Established in 1994, the Unitas Distinguished Alumni/ae Awards bear witness to the faith and perseverance of living Union alumni/ae who exemplify the Seminary’s academic breadth, its diversity and inclusiveness, and the range of vocations its graduates follow.
The 2017 Unitas Award ceremony took place on October 6th. Watch highlights below:
2017 Unitas Distinguished Alumni/ae Awardees
The Rev. Dr. Robert A. Evans ’69
As Executive Director and co-Founder—along with his wife Alice—of the Plowshares Institute, the Rev. Dr. Bob Evans has devoted his life to transforming conflict and pursuing peace around the world. After earning his Ph.D. in the Union-Columbia doctoral program in 1969, Dr. Evans held a series of academic positions, while at the same time helping to shape new and constructive pedagogies in the academy. Together the Evanses have authored 12 books, including: Pedagogies for the Non-Poor and The Globalization of Theological Education, taught hundreds of workshops, and led more than 1,000 leaders from industrialized countries in international immersion seminars.
The Rev. Dr. Melanie L. Harris ’06
The Rev. Dr. Melanie L. Harris, who earned her M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees from Union, is presently serving in an American Council of Education Leadership Fellowship at the University of Denver. A Professor of Religion and Ethics at Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth, TX, she teaches in the areas of Christian Social Ethics, Womanist Religious Thought, African American Literature and Religion, and Media and Religion. Harris is also the Founding Director of the African American and Africana Studies program at TCU. Author of the book Gifts of Virtue: Alice Walker and Womanist Ethics; Ecowomanism: African American Women and Earth Honoring Faiths (Orbis Press); and Ecowomanism, Religion and Ecology (Brill), Harris’s scholarship provides insight into ethical theory by uplifting the moral practices and values of women. An ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and a former broadcast journalist, Harris worked as a television news producer and news writer for ABC, CBS and NBC news affiliates in Atlanta and Denver.
The Rev. Dr. George McClain ’64
The Rev. Dr. George McClain, Executive Director Emeritus of the Methodist Federation for Social Action, received his M.Div. from Union in 1964. McClain was Co-Coordinator of the Student Interracial Ministry (SIM) at Union, and in 1963 served on the staff of the Alabama Council on Human Relations in Birmingham, Alabama. As interracial field staff of the Methodist Student Movement, McClain participated in the Mississippi Freedom Summer in 1964 and helped organize the Selma to Montgomery March. He was the Executive Director of the Methodist Federation for Social Action for 25 years, bringing it back from near oblivion after it was targeted by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and Senator Joseph McCarthy, eventually building it to over 30 chapters of progressive leadership in the United Methodist Church (UMC) focusing on such key issues as South Africa divestment, developing a spirituality for activists, and early support for LGBTQI organizing. A tireless advocate for prison education and reform, McClain organized—and for 12 years led—the Rising Hope prison theological education program at a New York State prison on Staten Island. He is also a trainer in the Deaconess & Home Missioner Program of the United Methodist Women, teaching theology and New Testament as an adjunct through the St. Paul School of Theology.
The Rev. Tracey Lind ’87
For 17 years, the Very Rev. Tracey Lind — who earned her M.Div. from Union in 1987 — has been a voice for God’s love and justice in a struggling rust-belt city that is finally on its way to new life. As one of the three co-founders of Greater Cleveland Congregations, she has helped start a powerful grass-roots movement that continues to impact the city. Now she has retired early over health reasons, and is sharing her journey in order to help others by destigmatizing brain disease.
Know An Outstanding Alumnus/a?
The Unitas Award is the highest honor presented by Union’s Alumni/ae Council on an annual basis and is typically given during ReUnion weekend each fall. Recipients are nominated by fellow Alumni/ae, reviewed by the Alumni/ae Council, and then recommend to the seminary President for approval and final selection.
All Union alumni/ae are encouraged to submit nominations for the annual Unitas Distinguished Alumni/ae Award. To nominate a fellow alumnus/a for a 2018 award, please complete and submit a nomination form by January 31, 2018.
- Nominations will be reviewed by the Alumni/ae Council and then recommend to the seminary President for approval and final selection.
- Each submission should include as much detail about the nominee as possible, e.g., articles, publications, curriculum vitae, newspaper clippings, or other citations.
Please contact Director of Alumni/ae Relations, Emily E. Odom ‘90 | 212-280-1419