Religion Professor Earns Research Fellowship

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  2. Religion Professor Earns Research Fellowship

David L. Whidden, III, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Our Lady of the Lake College, has been accepted for a competitive Wabash Center Summer Fellowship. The mission of the Wabash Center Summer Fellowship is to support the careers of promising young teachers and scholars in religion and theology.

“I am grateful that the Wabash Center is supporting my research and also that the administration at Our Lady of the Lake College is so supportive of my work,” explains Dr. Whidden. “Students at OLOL College are the real beneficiaries when their faculty have an opportunity to think and write about difficult topics, as the new knowledge and the example of rigorous thinking carries over into the classroom.”

Dr. Whidden, who completed his doctoral work at Southern Methodist University in 2011, is a scholar in systematic theology with a particular interest in the medieval theology of Thomas Aquinas and Anselm. The Fellowship will allow him to finalize work on his first book, “Christ the Light: The Theology of Light and Illumination in Thomas Aquinas,” which has been accepted for publication in 2014 by Fortress Press. The book will be a part of the Emerging Scholars Series, a selective, curated series “dedicated to highlighting innovative and creative projects from new scholars in the fields of biblical studies, theology, and Christian history,” according to the publisher.

This grant to support Dr. Whidden’s research follows on his selection last year to participate in a year-long workshop on classroom teaching. “Whatever success I have had as a professor is the consequence of the many excellent professors who taught me throughout my education. I strive to give my students the same experience, where we use all of our intellectual abilities to think carefully about the deepest and most difficult questions that frame human existence. The small class sizes at OLOL College give me an opportunity to get to know each student and to help that student develop the critical thinking skills necessary for their future careers. OLOL College is a great place to be a professor, with bright, hardworking students.”

Stated David A. England, Ph.D., Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs at OLOL College, “In his short time here, Dr. Whidden has distinguished himself as an emerging scholar, an engagingly effective instructor, and a fully engaged faculty member.”

In addition to supporting scholarship efforts, The Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, which is located in Crawfordsville, Indiana, offers faculty the opportunity to reflect with colleagues about teaching as a vocation. According to its web site, the Wabash Center “organizes its activities around five areas: strengthening teaching and learning; developing the professoriate in theology and religion; supporting teaching environments in theological schools and religion departments; understanding new technologies in teaching and learning; and developing scholarly literature on theological teaching.”

“As a member of the faculty at a Catholic and Franciscan college, I hope that my work, both in the classroom and in my research, makes a contribution to our students’ understanding of their world and how they might contribute to it in a way that is deeply formed by the commitments of the Catholic Church. For me, studying Thomas Aquinas, who has had such a profound influence on the Church’s theology, provides both my students and me the opportunity to engage with one of the great minds of human history.”

Offering master’s, baccalaureate, and associate degrees, Our Lady of the Lake College is a four-year, independent institution, providing a strong foundation in the liberal arts and continuing its highly-regarded health sciences and nursing programs. Established in 1923 as a nursing school by the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady (FMOL), Our Lady of the Lake College holds to a Franciscan tradition of service, offering a healing and spiritual presence for the community and especially those most in need. To learn more about Our Lady of the Lake College, please visit

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