Oceanographer, Former Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop to Speak at Eckerd Commencement

March 24, 2016

The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Ph.D., oceanographer and 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church (2006-2015), will speak at the 53rd Commencement of Eckerd College on Sunday, May 22.

Katharine Jefferts Schori

The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Ph.D.

“It is a privilege and an honor to have Bishop Jefferts Schori, a scientist and trailblazing church leader, address the Eckerd College graduating class,” said President Donald R. Eastman III. “As the first woman to serve as Presiding Bishop, and during a tumultuous era in the Episcopal Church, she proved a fearless and prophetic leader advancing church views and policies related to the ordination of individuals of all orientations and gender identities, marriage equality, women’s leadership in church and society, the eradication of global poverty, and the response to climate change.”

Bishop Jefferts Schori earned her baccalaureate degree in biology from Stanford University in 1974. She later earned the Master of Science degree in 1977 and the Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1983, both in oceanography, from Oregon State University. She continued her research as a post-doctoral fellow with the National Marine Fisheries Service. Later, in preparation for ordination, she completed her Master of Divinity degree in 1994 at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley.

In her work as an oceanographer as well as an Episcopal priest, Bishop Jefferts Schori has sought to place herself at the intersection of the mind, body, and spirit and at the nexus of science and faith. When asked in a recent Huffington Post interview how her experience as an oceanographer transferred to her ministry, she stated, “I think that the careful way in which scientists are trained to look at the world and not jump to conclusions has been an immense gift in the work I’ve done. Coming with a hypothesis about what the problem or the challenge is and experimenting–if you will–with a different variety of possible solutions or resolutions, listening and looking carefully, and then trying and re-forming if that one doesn’t work.”

Commencement will take place on Eckerd’s South Beach Field under the largest tent of its kind against the stunning backdrop of Boca Ciega Bay. The event will also be broadcast live.