The HDS Alumni/Alumnae Council established the Peter J. Gomes STB '68 Memorial Honors in 2013 to celebrate the outstanding contributions that HDS alumni make to their fields, and to society, across the broad spectrum of professions and vocations that HDS graduates pursue.
Reza Aslan, MTS '99, is an internationally acclaimed writer and scholar of religions and founder of AslanMedia.com, an online journal for news and entertainment about the Middle East and the world. A member of numerous boards and organizations, including the Council on Foreign Relations, he is also the author of the international bestseller No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam; Beyond Fundamentalism: Confronting Religious Extremism in a Globalized Age; and Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. Aslan also works extensively with Abraham's Vision, an educational, conflict-transformation organization for Israeli and Palestinian youths, and with PEN USA, which champions the rights of writers under siege around the world. He is currently associate professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside.
Susannah Heschel, MTS '76, is the Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College. Her scholarship focuses on Jewish-Christian relations in Germany during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the history of biblical scholarship, and the history of anti-Semitism. Her numerous publications include Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus, which won a National Jewish Book Award and Germany's Geiger Prize, and The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany. Between 2002 and 2007, with grants from the Ford Foundation, she convened a series of five international conferences of scholars in the fields of Jewish studies and Islamic studies, held at Dartmouth College.
The Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi, MTS '03, is the founding director of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and also serves as the Buddhist chaplain at MIT. At the age of 10, the Venerable Tenzin entered a Buddhist monastery in Rajgir, India, near the ancient Nalanda University, and was subsequently ordained by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who is his spiritual mentor. He received his spiritual training in India, Nepal, and Japan under the guidance of several eminent teachers. He lectures internationally and is president of the Prajnopaya Foundation, a worldwide humanitarian organization.
Sarah Sentilles, MDiv '01, ThD '08, is a scholar of religion, an award-winning speaker, and the author of three books, including Breaking Up with God: A Love Story and A Church of Her Own. She earned a bachelor's degree from Yale and a master's of divinity and doctorate in theology from HDS, where she was awarded the Billings Preaching Prize and was the managing editor of the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. At the core of her scholarship, writing, and activism is a commitment to investigating the roles religious language, images, and practices play in oppression, violence, social transformation, and justice movements. She is currently working on a new novel and an edited volume that investigates the intersections of torture and Christianity.
Ronald F. Thiemann, an ordained Lutheran minister, was Bussey Professor of Theology and former dean of Harvard Divinity School. He passed away in November 2012 at the age of 66. A noted scholar, theologian, teacher, and administrator, Ron Thiemann was a leading voice in discussions about contemporary theology and the role of religion in American public life. Thiemann was also responsible for the formation, in 1992, of the Center for the Study of Values in Public Life at HDS, a teaching and research center founded to examine the values that shape public policies and debates. He also served as director of the Business across Religious Traditions initiative, an executive education program for business leaders, and with Bruce McEver he co-founded the Foundation for Religious Literacy in 2011.