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Theology Chairwoman Is Newton Alumnae Professor

Catherine Cornille (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

By Kathleen Sullivan | Chronicle Staff

Published: Mar. 13, 2013

Boston College has announced the appointment of Theology Department Chairwoman Catherine Cornille to the Newton College Alumnae Chair in Western Culture. An internationally acclaimed scholar in the field of comparative theology, Cornille succeeds Judith Wilt, the inaugural Newton College Alumnae Professor, who retired in 2011.

In addition to her academic prominence, Cornille has a reputation as a pioneer: Prior to joining Boston College in 2005, she was an associate professor of religious studies at the Catholic University of Leuven in her native Belgium, the first female theologian on the teaching staff in the university’s 500-year-old history; then, in 2010, she became the first woman to chair BC’s Theology Department.

"Catherine Cornille has been a terrific chair of the Theology Department for the last three years and she has established an international reputation as a leading scholar in the field of comparative theology,” said College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean David Quigley. “I'm pleased to see that Catherine will succeed Judith Wilt as the second holder of the Newton College Alumnae Chair.”

Cornille’s teaching and research focus on interreligious dialogue and comparative theology and on particular theological questions arising from Hindu-Christian and Buddhist-Christian dialogues. She has written or edited 14 books in English and in Dutch, including the award-winning The Im-Possibility of Interreligious Dialogue. She is the founding editor-in-chief of the book series Christian Commentaries on non-Christian Sacred Texts.

From 2008 to 2012, Cornille organized the annual Boston College Symposia on Interreligious Dialogue, which brought together scholars from different religious traditions to discuss issues such as women, cultural change and economic development.

“I am humbled by the appointment," said Cornille. "As religious diversity is becoming an integral part of Western Culture, I hope that my work on interreligious dialogue will shed some light on the religious challenges and opportunities raised by this continuously evolving reality."

The Newton College Alumnae Professorship in Western Culture was endowed by alumnae of Newton College of the Sacred Heart to preserve the Newton College name and to honor its tradition.