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 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 and selected by Union’s Alumni/ae Council.
The 2017 Unitas Award ceremony will take place on October 6th.
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 both her M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees from Union, is presently Associate Professor of Religion and Ethics at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, where she teaches in the areas of Christian Social Ethics, Womanist Religious Thought, African American Literature and Religion, and Media and Religion. Author of the book Gifts of Virtue: Alice Walker and Womanist Ethics, Dr. Harris’s scholarship provides insight into ethical theory and uplifts the moral practices and values of women. An ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and a former broadcast journalist, Dr. Harris worked as a television news producer and news writer for ABC, CBS and NBC news affiliates in Atlanta and Denver.
The Rev. 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.
Unitas Distinguished Alumni/ae Awardees: 1994 – 2016
Victoria J. Barnett ’81
Clifford J. Green ’64, ’72
Ann Belford Ulanov ’62, ’67
Raphael B. Warnock ’94, ’062015
Gay L. Byron ’92, ’99
Sally N. MacNichol ’87, ’05
John Curtis Raines ’59, ’67
William L. Wipfler ’65, ’782014
Calvin O. Butts III ‘75
Anne Rebecca Elliot ‘91, ‘98
Katharine Rhodes Henderson ‘82
Margaret Catherine Pols ‘64
Malcolm Boyd ’56
Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz ’85
John D. Miller ’70
Paul Sherry ’582004
Priscilla Chaplin ’57
Edward Farley ’58
Gerre Hancock ’61
Judith Hancock ’61
Edward L. Long, Jr. ’48
Joseph L. Roberts, Jr. ’59
John D. Twiname ’832003
Suzan Johnson Cook ’83
Walter Harrelson ’49
Roy I. Sano ‘572001
James A. Forbes, Jr. ’62
Beverly W. Harrison ’56
William J. Shaw ’57
We encourage all Union alumni/ae are encouraged to submit nominations for the 2018 Unitas Distinguished Alumni/ae Award. The process is as follows:
- Complete and submit a nomination form by January 31, 2018/ listed below.
- Each nomination should include as much detail about the nominee as possible, e.g. articles or other publications, curriculum vitae, newspaper clippings or other citations. Providing the name and contact information of another person (e.g. – family member, student, colleague, etc.) who could give additional information about the nominee would also be helpful supporting documentation.
All completed nominations must be received no later than January 31, 2018. Nominations will be reviewed by the Alumni/ae Council and then recommend to the president for approval and final selection. Please contact Kevin McGee with any questions.
Please send all nominations with supporting documents to the following address:
Rev. Emily E. Odom, M.Div. ‘90
Director of Alumni/ae Relations