Published July 18, 2011
Springfield, Ohio — Wittenberg University alumna Alison Tyner Davis, class of 2006, was recently named a fellow in the fourth cohort of the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program (LFP) in the Humanities and Arts. Davis, who earned her bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg with a double major in English and philosophy, begins pursuit of a Ph.D. in religion and literature at the University of Chicago next month.
The LFP supports graduate education by providing scholarships and mentoring opportunities to students interested in becoming teacher-scholars at church-related colleges and universities throughout the United States. The latest cohort includes 16 fellows selected from 61 applicants hailing from a wide variety of prestigious institutions.
Fellows are individuals who are entering Ph.D. or equivalent programs in humanities and arts at schools of their choosing. They receive $3,000 per year for three years, in addition to access to a mentoring program that focuses on the relationship between faith, scholarship and teaching. LFP participants also attend four conferences over the course of three years, where they have the opportunity to collaborate with one another and with senior scholars.
“My hope is that the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program will not only provide an extended period of vocational exploration, but also a time to consider the place and the purpose of small church-related colleges and universities in the world of higher education,” said Davis, a native of Dublin, Ohio. “I expect this three-year program will be just the place to think critically about and reflect intentionally upon the history and the future of higher education in the U.S.”
Davis recently completed a three-year M.Div. program at the Divinity School, where she was able to both pursue research interests in theology, American and Czech literature and the history of Christian thought and spend time engaged in off-campus internships. She also served as a pastoral intern at Concordia Lutheran Church in Chicago during her second year of graduate school, and the following summer she worked as a chaplain at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill.
“The experiences working in the parish and at the hospital allowed me to explore some of the power and limits of Christian theologies and practices,” Davis said.
She recalls fondly her undergraduate career at Wittenberg. She said that she hopes to educate in much the same way that her Wittenberg professors did.
“In countless ways, I was shown extraordinary hospitality from the faculty, staff and students at Wittenberg,” Davis said. “The gift that the Wittenberg community has given me is a willingness to recognize that some of the most valuable experiences of change and learning occur in passing conversations, in shared silence, in community action.
“I’ve learned from my professors at Wittenberg that perhaps the most important work a teacher might do for her students is to be hospitable to these moments of learning – to foster room for exploration both in the classroom and outside of it, to nudge conversation in ways that challenge assumptions, and to create spaces that are strange enough to pique curiosity and yet safe enough to encourage exploration.”
Recognized Lilly Fellowship Program National Network Undergraduate institutions nominate applicants for the fellowship.
“As the LFP representative from Wittenberg, I was one of the interviewers for this cohort, and it was a very impressive group,” said Wittenberg Professor of English Lori Askeland. “Alison impressed everyone who interviewed her. This is a great honor for Alison and for Wittenberg.”
Written By: Adam Schick ’11 and Ryan Maurer