Stanford announced last Friday that the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori ’74 will be this year’s Baccalaureate speaker.
The Baccalaureate service is designed to recognize the role of spirituality in education and is one of several graduation ceremonies held over Commencement weekend. Organized by the Office of Religious Life, it is open to students and their families of all religious backgrounds, and features a student speaker, who has yet to be announced, in addition to its guest speaker. It is set the day before Commencement, happening this year on June 11 at 10:00 a.m. in front of Memorial Church within the Main Quad.
Until last November, Jefferts Schori served as the 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church — the first woman to occupy that position. Over her nine-year tenure (from 2006 to 2015), Jefferts Schori led the Church in a more liberal direction, expressing support for same-sex marriage, abortion rights, and climate change. Priesthood within the Episcopal Church, uniquely, is open to women and openly LGBTQ+ individuals as well as men. Jefferts Schori herself was ordained as a priest in 1994, and was elected as the 9th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada in 2001.
“Katharine Jefferts Schori is a person of great courage, conviction and integrity,” said the Reverend Jane Shaw, professor of religious studies and Stanford’s Dean for Religious Life. “She brought extraordinary brilliance and bravery to a very demanding position at a crucial point in the history of the Episcopal Church.”
For Jefferts Schori, speaking at the Baccalaureate ceremony is something of a homecoming; Jefferts Schori graduated from Stanford in 1974 with a B.S. in biology. She later went on to earn an M.S. degree in 1977 and a Ph.D. in 1983, both in oceanography, from Oregon State University — an interest that began with a class that she took at the Hopkins Marine Station. In 1994, the same year as her ordination, Jefferts Schori earned a Master of Divinity degree from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley.
Jefferts Schori reconciled her beliefs in science and religion in leading the Episcopal Church to take a more progressive stance on climate change.
“It is decidedly wrong to use resources that have been given into our collective care in ways that diminish the ability of others to share in abundant life,” Jefferts Schori wrote on the Anglican Communion News Service website, also calling arguments against climate change “a sin of omission.”
In recent years, Baccalaureate speeches have been given by lawyer and civil rights activist Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., and Zen Buddhist priest Zoketsu Norman Fischer.
Contact Jacob Nierenberg at [email protected]