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Harvard Divinity dean to deliver Baccalaureate address

William A. Graham

William A. Graham, Dean of Harvard Divinity School and an internationally respected educator and specialist in Islam and early Islamic literature, will deliver the Baccalaureate address for the Class of 2005 and will receive an honorary doctorate at the university’s commencement ceremonies the next day.

Graham, the Murray A. Albertson Professor of Middle Eastern Studies and John Lord O’Brian Professor of Divinity at Harvard, will speak at the ceremony held at 4 p.m Sunday, May 22 in Packer Memorial Church. University Chaplain Lloyd Steffen, who also serves as professor and chair of the religion studies department, will perform the service.

Graham is the first Dean of an American theological school whose area of expertise is Islam. He assumed his duties as Dean at Harvard in August 2002, having served since January of that year as acting dean. He has been a member of the Harvard faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences since 1973. He has served as director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, master of Currier House, and chair of the department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, the Committee on the Study of Religion, and the Core Curriculum Subcommittee on Foreign Cultures at Harvard. He is also former chair of the Council on Graduate Studies in Religion (U.S. and Canada).

His scholarly work has focused on early Islamic religious history and textual traditions and problems in the history of world religion. In October 2000, he received the quinquennial Award for Excellence in Research in Islamic History and Culture from the Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), the research institute of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

He has held John Simon Guggenheim and Alexander von Humboldt research fellowships and is the author of Beyond the Written Word: Oral Aspects of Scripture in the History of Religion, and Divine Word and Prophetic Word in Early Islam, which earned the 1978 American Council of Learned Societies History of Religions Prize. He co-authored The Heritage of World Civilizations (6th rev. ed., 2003) and Three Faiths, One God, and co-edited Islamfiche: Readings from Islamic Primary Sources.

Graham is also the author of numerous articles and reviews.

Graham is a summa graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in comparative literature and holds A.M. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University’s College of Arts and Sciences.

For more information, please contact Dr. Lloyd Steffen at Lehigh University, (610) 758-3877

--Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2005

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