2018 Honorary Doctorate Recipients

The General Theological Seminary is pleased to announce the next recipients of its Doctor of Divinity degree, honoris causa, to be conferred at the 196th Commencement ceremonies on Wednesday May 16, 2018: the Rt. Rev. R. William Franklin and the Very Rev. Lang Lowrey, III. 

Five additional honorary degrees will be awarded over the course of the next year including the Rt. Rev. Kevin Brown, the Most Rev. Michael Curry, the Rt. Rev. Gretchen Rehrberg, the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, and the Most Rev. Rowan Williams. 


The Rt. Rev. R. William Franklin

The Rt. Rev. R. William Franklin has been the Bishop of Western New York since 2011. He is also Dean Emeritus of the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University and he serves as Episcopal Visitor of the Companions of St. Luke of the Order of St. Benedict. He is a member of the Theology Committee and the Ecclesiology Committee of the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church and he has served on the Nominating Committee of the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, The General Board of Examining Chaplains, and the Board of the Archives of The Episcopal Church. He has been awarded the Ph.D. by Harvard University and the D. D. by the Berkeley Divinity School of Yale University. In 1991 he served as Visiting Professor of Church History at The General Seminary and from 1993 to 1998 he served as Society for the Promotion of Religion and Learning Professor of History and World Mission and Professor of Modern Anglican Studies at The General Theological Seminary. In 1997 he served as Associate Dean of The General Theological Seminary. He is the author or co-author of seven books in the areas of Church History, Ecumenism, and Christian Humanism. He is married to Carmela Vircillo Franklin who is Professor of Classics at Columbia University. His two daughters are: Corinna Franklin, a surgeon at Shriners' Hospital in Philadelphia, and Beatrice Franklin, who is a Clerk on the United States Supreme Court.


Bishop Franklin comments on his relationship with the seminary, saying: “l am proud to have served as a professor at General Seminary in 1991 and then again from 1993 to 1998. I had the privilege of teaching a generation of students in the 1990's who have gone on to become outstanding priests, bishops, scholars, and leaders of The Episcopal Church. For more than two hundred years General Seminary has formed clergy and laity through a unique combination of academics and scholarship, liturgy and spirituality, and life in an urban residential Christian community. I am grateful for all the many ways General Seminary has formed me as a lay academic, a priest, and as a bishop, as it has formed countless others over these two centuries.”


The Very Rev. Lang Lowrey, III

Lang Lowrey is the Director of the Episcopal Studies Program; Professor in the Practice of Church Leadership at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. He is a graduate of Georgia Tech and earned his Master of Divinity at Candler. After college, he owned and ran several successful ventures before selling them to create Buckhead Technology Angels to incubate emerging technology companies. He twice was selected to run Fortune 500 firms facing difficult challenges, implementing complex turnaround plans and securing robust equity events.

Lowrey has served at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta and was founding rector at St. Benedict’s Episcopal Church and Day School in Vinings, a successful church plant that now has 1,000 people in its community. From 2010 to 2013, he was president of The General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church in New York City, where he led the institution through a period of broad-based restructuring and the development of new revenue streams. He also has enjoyed a highly successful career as a corporate executive, and is involved in many missions and outreach organizations.

The former interim Dean and President provided the following statement:

“To save financially save General and renovate the Close was important but the most important work has occurred since I left. Under the leadership of Dean Dunkle, I am very impressed with his new plan for GTS in a rapidly changing world. Obviously seminaries must form a new type of leadership in a changing world. They must also find ways to cut the cost of education for students. Students cannot continue to be burdened by high debt. The Wisdom Year accomplishes both of these key initiatives PLUS allows smaller parishes to be able to afford clergy who will not only be formed by real life experience but also help them survive. The Wisdom year is a win/win/win for the church, the student and the world.

General Seminary’s location in NYC, The Wisdom Year and General’s international worldview make it extremely valuable to the church and the world. This gives me great hope for its future and I think this is proven by the progress that it reports every year. This progress, including increased enrollment and fund raising proves that Dean Dunkle’s plan is working but that the church recognizes its future value. There is no doubt in my mind that progress will continue to be made and that in but a few years the turmoil of the financial meltdown and the resulting wake of it will be but a moment no longer remembered.

I am proud to be a part of General Seminary’s long esteemed history. General (“Mother”) has weathered so many storms (including Hurricane Sandy during my tenure) but has always emerged stronger and with great promise for the future. This is what is happening again.”