HDS Names 2003 Alumni/ae Award Recipients


Harvard Divinity School has announced recipients of the three alumni awards that were presented on its Alumni Day, June 4, 2003. At a luncheon held on the HDS campus, the First Decade Award was given to Maria Karagianis, Founding Executive Director of Discovering Justice, Boston; the Rabbi Martin Katzenstein Award was given to the Rev. Dr. Oscar Allan Rogers, retired president of Claflin College, Orangeburg, South Carolina, and the Preston N. Williams Black Alumni Award was given to the Rev. Dr. Charles G. Adams, Pastor of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, Detroit, Michigan.

The First Decade Award was established in 1983 by the Alumni Association of the Divinity School to recognize a graduate from the previous ten years "whose professional pursuits have demonstrated the values and skills developed at the Divinity School, and who is an inspiration for all graduates."

Since 1998, Maria Karagianis, MTS '93, has been the executive director of Discovering Justice: The James D. St. Clair Court Education Project, housed in the federal courthouse in Boston. She has grown the project from a one-person staff with a $100,000 annual budget to a 14-staff, several hundred-volunteer, $1.1 million organization. More than 18,000 children and adults have participated in the project, which brings the courtroom and judicial process to life through special grade-school curricula, professional theater performances, and a "legal apprentice" program. Formerly an award-winning Boston Globe reporter, Karagianis spent a yearlong reporting assignment in South Africa at the heart of apartheid, an experience that peaked her interest in religion and justice. During her time at HDS, she studied world religions and learned more about her own Greek Orthodox heritage. She sees her current work as a continuation of her experience at Harvard and enjoys using innovative educational approaches to draw people together who might not otherwise meet. Karagianis lives in Milton, Massachusetts, with her husband and two daughters.

The Rabbi Martin Katzenstein Award was established in 1979 to recognize a Harvard Divinity School graduate "who exhibits a passionate and helpful interest in the lives of other people, an informed and realistic faithfulness, an embodiment of the idea that love is not so much a way of feeling as a way of acting, and a reliable sense of humor." It honors Martin Katzenstein, ThM '58, who died in 1970 while he was the Divinity School's acting dean of students.

The Rev. Dr. Oscar Allan Rogers, STB '53, served as the president of Claflin College for 10 years and, before that, spent 24 years at Jackson State University in several different positions, including professor of social science education, dean of students, and dean of the graduate school. At every school he served, Rogers strengthened faculties, student bodies, curricula, and endowments. He was especially dedicated to increasing graduate education opportunities for African Americans in the South, after his own experience of being forced to get his graduate education in the North. While serving as a full-time administrator, Rogers, a native of Natchez, Mississippi, served as a minister to mostly small, rural congregations in Kentucky, Arkansas, and Mississippi and participated in civic organizations including the NAACP, the Boy Scouts Troup Committee and the Mississippi Teacher's Association. He also holds an MAT from the Harvard Education School and a Doctor of Education degree (EdD) from the University of Arkansas. Rogers is the father of three sons and several grandchildren with his wife, Ethel Lewis Rogers of Tougaloo.

The Preston N. Williams Black Alumni/ae Award was created in 2002 by the HDS Black Alumni Network to honor "one who has demonstrated a concern for the religious experience of the African Diaspora … (and) has likewise demonstrated a commitment to scholarship at Harvard Divinity School, and has been an inspirational model of brotherhood and sisterhood by empowering others in the pursuit of truth and justice."

The Rev. Dr. Charles G. Adams, BD '64, has been pastor of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, since 1969. Hartford has thrived under the leadership of Adams—who was named one of America's 15 greatest black preachers and one of the 100 most influential black Americans by Ebony magazine—and now has a membership of more than 10,000 strong. Adams has established social, educational, and recreational programs for congregants of all ages, revitalized northwest Detroit with economic development initiatives (including a Super K-Mart and Meyers), and founded Kafo and Kentake Academies, providing African American-centered education to Detroit youth. He is president of the Detroit Branch of the NAACP and holds memberships on several boards, including the National Council of Churches and Morehouse College (his alma mater).

His influence extends beyond Detroit and the United States to the global arena. Adams was integral to the World Council of Churches efforts to combat worldwide racism, has spoken before the United Nations on South African apartheid, and accompanied President Clinton to Jordan to witness the signing of the Peace Accord between Jordan and Israel in 1994. Yet the Black Alumni/ae Award honors him in particular for acting as one of HDS's most trusted advisers over the years. A founding member of the school's Black Alumni Network, he played an integral role in raising the money to create the Black Seminarians fund at HDS. He has also been a guiding force in the development and growth of the Summer Leadership Institute, an annual two-week program begun in 1998 that trains pastors and lay leaders in community and economic development. Not only has Adams served on the SLI faculty each year, but he has engendered a fruitful cross-fertilization between Hartford and Harvard, bringing Harvard professors to speak at his church.