Religion and Conflict Transformation Program Named in Honor of Professor Tom Porter

May 2, 2019 – On Thursday evening in the STH Community Center, many members of the STH community gathered to celebrate the life’s work of long-time faculty member Thomas W. Porter, Jr. as he prepares for his retirement at the end of this academic year. Professor Porter began his tenure at the School of Theology back in 2005.

Professor Porter’s retirement will end an illustrious career as a trial lawyer, mediator, teacher, and pastor, marked especially by his co-direction of the Religion and Conflict Transformation Program here at the School. At his retirement ceremony, Dean Mary Elizabeth Moore announced this signature program will “henceforth and forevermore” be named the Tom Porter Religion and Conflict Transformation Program. The supporting endowment fund will also be re-named as the Tom Porter Religion and Conflict Transformation Endowment Fund. 

Co-director Judith Oleson expressed her thoughts on working side-by-side with Tom these past few years, as she prepares to lead the program as its Executive Director starting this fall. “As the founder, Tom graciously shared his vision for Justpeace, theological frameworks of conflict transformation, diverse skills and a multitude of relationships he had developed at the BU School of Theology and beyond.   It is a gift to collaborate with someone that is both prophetic and pragmatic, humorous and humble, reflective and engaging.  Always supportive, and never judgmental, Tom has been an inspiring colleague and friend.  He will be missed, but the impact of his work continues with every STH graduate that participated in the RCT program over the past sixteen years!”

Tom Porter is looking forward to the next stages of his life and can relax knowing that Judith’s leadership will expertly guide the RCT program. “I leave the Program knowing that it will get better and better under Judith Oleson’s leadership.  Judith and I have worked together for over two years. I have witnessed her excellent teaching and her gracious mentoring of students. She added, among other initiatives,  the travel seminar to the Balkans, circle conversations for the participants in the program, and a research program (including five extraordinary research fellows who meet monthly). BUSTH is fortunate to have her as director of the Program. I look forward to going back to school—studying at the Center for Action and Contemplation with Richard Rohr, mediating lawsuits and other matters, and spending more time with Zozie and our children and grandchildren. I might even write a book on the Theology and Jurisprudence of Restorative Justice, but I am letting this unfold.”

Watch Dean Moore’s announcement of this exceptional honor below, captured courtesy of current student Elizabeth Marshall.