Thu May 30, 2013, 08:20 PM
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Commencement speaker sheds light on profound power of interfaith relations
by April Gutierrez | May. 30, 2013 Young Voices
In September 2011, I wrote a Young Voices column for NCR on the opening of Claremont Lincoln University, the first graduate school owned by three Abrahamic faiths. On May 21, a modest audience gathered to celebrate CLU's inaugural commencement ceremony, honoring 10 CLU students alongside graduates of Claremont School of Theology. The ceremony began with a welcome from Dr. Jerry D. Campbell, founding president of CLU and the sixth president of Claremont School of Theology.
David Lincoln and Dr. Campbell were the visionaries for the groundbreaking interreligious university. Claremont Lincoln identifies as "the hub of a consortium of likeminded educational institutions and centers" that includes its founding partners: Claremont School of Theology; the Academy for Jewish Religion, California; Bayan Claremont (founded by the Islamic Center of Southern California); and affiliated schools and centers, including Center for Jain Studies; Center for Sikh Studies; Hindu Studies Program; and the University of the West (a Buddhist institution). At the end of June, Campbell will retire from both schools, and the governing boards of each institution will separately hire two new chief executives.
United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcaņo, the first Latina to be elected to the episcopacy of the second largest Protestant denomination, gave the invocation, and Dr. Tamar Frankiel, the president of the Academy of Jewish Religion, California, offered the final blessing.
Dr. Eboo Patel, founding president of the Interfaith Youth Core, received an honorary degree and gave the commencement speech, "On the Vanguard: A Celebration of Interfaith Leadership." Dr. Patel is a member of President Barack Obama's inaugural Advisory Council of the White House's Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and holds a doctorate in sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes scholarship. He is the author of the award-winning book Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation; is a regular contributor to The Washington Post, NPR and CNN; and was named by US News & World Report as one of America's Best Leaders of 2009.
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