Trouble viewing this email? Read it online.
Religious Studies header
Note from the Chair

Dear Alumni and Friends,

The spring issue of Perspectives offers snapshots of the life of the religious studies department “beyond the classroom”—events, news of students and alumni, faculty updates-- over the past two quarters. Enjoy!

Of course, not covered here is the work we all do “in the classroom.” And that is good work, too. One of my delights this past year as interim chair has been to talk with almost all of our faculty about their classes. In a given academic year we put together over 160 undergraduate classes, and another 30 or so for GPPM. While the administrative gyrations to get all that activity scheduled can be overwhelming (images of harried air traffic controllers come to mind), it amazes me to think of how much intellectual energy is humming throughout our classes—whether in person or online!--every day of the quarter.

This is my second round as an interim department chair. The last time I did it was over 30 years ago, when long time chair Jim Reites, SJ (RIP) was on a sabbatical in Rome. I am confident—and hopeful—I will not be tapped for the job in another 30 years.

Some things have not changed between these two stints as interim chair: we still get to engage every undergraduate student three times during their academic career at SCU; although small in number, our majors and minors each year emerge as a spirited and active community; faculty remain dedicated to teaching as they make their varied contributions to the scholarly communities they serve; and we continue to be blessed by great administrative staff, with Vicky Gonzalez stepping into the shoes of Ethel Johnson, Gretchen Ryan, Bernadette Proulx and others. Continuity is a good thing.

And yet so is novelty. Over ten years ago the whole department moved across campus, from the cramped quarters of the third floor of Bannan Hall, to new (for us!) digs in Kenna Hall. Former majors from that time, like Mike Mahony, are old enough that their children are now SCU alums. Other former majors from that time are now established scholars at universities across the country (and more recent ones are colleagues here!). The faculty colleagues with whom I worked as chair back then are no longer with us, the result of retirements, career moves, deaths. Their places have been taken by numerous individuals over the years—participating in their recruitment has been some of the most interesting and gratifying work I’ve done over my career. While some course titles remain the same—the iconic “Theology of Marriage” comes to mind—others, like “Eastern Religions,” have given way to countless new courses, as new faculty joined our ranks. The religious studies entry in the 2021-22 University Bulletin makes for interesting reading!

We are a large and varied department, and as the entries in this Perspectives illustrate, we do not all do the same thing. It was ever thus. As I reflect over the two different stints as chair an idea from Bernard Lonergan’s writings comes to mind, what he called “the self-correcting process of learning.” That term applies to individuals, to a dynamic by which we become ourselves and engage the world through ongoing acts of self-transcendence. I’d like to apply it to the community of which I have been a part for over 40 years. Although some of the questions or challenges the department faced this year seem all too familiar, to the point I wonder if we are making any progress, the energy and commitment faculty, students and staff bring to them is novel, fresh, and exciting, a source of hope.

In closing, I want to again thank my predecessor in this position, David Gray, for his six years of leadership. After this year I appreciate all the more his devotion to the job. And I look forward to handing the reins over to Jim Bennett, who will start his three-year term as chair in September. It’s a challenging job, but not without its rewards! I’m confident Jim will do a great job in leading the religious studies community in the years to come.

Philip Boo Riley
Chair, Religious Studies Department

Cover Story: "Comings and Goings"

As we thought about a “cover story” for the spring issue of RS Perspectives an idea popped up, one we named “Comings and Goings.” We have a variety of students majoring and minoring in our program, each with their own unique “perspective” on the department. We thought it would be interesting to invite a student who is just starting out to dialogue with a student who is graduating this year. Hydeia Wysinger '25 and Molly Flood '22 graciously agreed to carve out some time at the end of the quarter to share what they bring to--and take away from—the department.  Perhaps we will make “Comings and Goings” a spring quarter tradition!

Hydeia Wysinger '25

Hydeia Wysinger '25

God's calling.

Read More

Molly Flood '22

Ups and downs of college.

Read More


Student Spotlight

Four students answer "Why Religious Studies?"

Emma Somers '22, Lydia Sandy '23, Anna Johnson '24, and Hydeia Wysinger '25 on why they enjoy Religious Studies.

Read More

News & Events

Ana Maria Pineda, R.S.M.

Speaks about the legacy of Jesuit martyr, Rutilio
Grande S.J.

Read More


Karen Peterson-Iyer Book Event

Launches new book about Reenvisioning Sexual Ethics.

Read More


RS Conversations:  Winter 2022

Professor Akiba Lerner led a virtual conversation on the topic of Antisemitism. He explained how antisemitic narratives have become more mainstream and are increasingly used as political tools for recruitment amongst hate groups.


RS Conversations:  Spring 2022

Professors Bill Dohar, Cathleen Chopra-McGowan, and Paul Schutz led a zoom discussion on the complex relationship between Religion, Violence, and War, especially in Ukraine.

Aidan LatimerDanny Walsh

Living Religions Collaborative (LRC)

Welcomes 2022-23 LRC student fellows Aidan Latimer and Danny Walsh.

Read More

Religious Studies 2022 Reception

Annual Religious Studies Reception

Religious Studies community gathered on May 26 at the Kenna Trellis for their first ever outdoor year-end reception.

Read More

Faculty Updates

Paul Schutz

Graves Award will be used to support his first monograph, Reimagining Creation: A Theology of Creaturely Flourishing.

Read More


Bryson White

Meet our newest faculty member.

Read More


Sally Vance-Trembath

Oversees art competition and publication of new student literary magazine, Transcendence.

Read More


Elyse Raby

Works with the Diocese of San Jose and SCU faculty, staff, and students on SCU's contribution to the Synod of Synodality.

Read More

More faculty updates from Haruka Umetsu-Cho, Cathleen Chopra-McGowan, David DeCosse, Bill Dohar, Elizabeth Drescher, Jaime Wright, Teresia Hinga, Clovis Karam, Akiba Lerner, Gary Macy, Margaret McLean, Daniel Morgan, Karen Peterson-Iyer, Jan Giddings, Philip Boo Riley, and Eugene Schlesinger. Read More

2022 Student Award Winners
Molly Flood '22
Religious Studies Major Prize
William Gagan '22
Tennant Wright, S.J. Minor Prize
Ramon Duran '22
Theodore J. Mackin Senior Thesis Award
Vanessa Metti '22
Joseph Grassi Social Justice Award
Alejandro Eros '23
Catherine Bell Award

Class of 2022

Congratulations Class of 2022 Religious Studies Graduates!

Ramon Duran Vanessa Metti
Molly Flood Emma Somers
Cade Alcock Georgia Ellis
Anthony Avila Caitlin Fitter
Dalliana Banuelos William Gagan
Lisa Bui Maria Fernanda Gutierrez Orozco
Whitney Aaron Davis Claire Lindstadt
Lorena Delgado-Marquez Katie Soifer
Sofia Denecke Sydney Wang

Ramon Duran '22

Ramon will be studying toward a master's degree in sociology at Columbia University this fall.  He has deferred enrollment at Harvard Divinity School's Master of Theological Studies program for one year.

Read More

Alumni Updates

Kelby Uebelhor '21

Admitted to Yale Divinity School to study philosophy of religion.

Read More


Bjorn Thyrring '20

Bjorn joined Dean Daniel Press for a Linkedin conversation on February 22 titled “Getting REAL with Alumni: Exploring SCU’s REAL Program.” Bjorn is currently pursuing a Master’s in Theology at Harvard Divinity School (Politics, Ethics, and Religion).

We would love to hear from you! If you have any news or memories to share (tell us your best RS story!), would like to update us about your current life and work, or have any ideas for RS programs and initiatives, please email

You might include a story or photo of a recent event, or just let us know about your current location, career, or thoughts. Thank you!


Santa Clara University
Department of Religious Studies
500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053
Phone: 408.554.4547

© 2022