Roosevelt Montás, Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland to Address Ursinus Class of 2023
Roosevelt Montás, a Columbia University scholar and one of the world’s foremost advocates for the virtues of liberal arts education, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters and address the class of 2023 during Ursinus College’s 150th commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 13. A baccalaureate ceremony precedes commencement on Friday, May 12. The Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland, a faith leader, public theologian, and justice advocate, will speak at baccalaureate and receive an Honorary Doctor of Divinity.
Montás is a senior lecturer in American studies and English at Columbia University and serves as director of its Freedom and Citizenship Program. He speaks widely on the history, place, and future of the humanities in higher education and is the author of Rescuing Socrates: How the Great Books Changed My Life and Why They Matter for a New Generation (Princeton University Press, 2021). Montás specializes in Antebellum American literature and culture, with a particular interest in American national identity. He regularly teaches moral and political philosophy in the Columbia Core Curriculum as well seminars in American Studies. He won Columbia’s Bancroft Award with his dissertation, Rethinking America.
In June, Montás will be a guest panelist for “Revolutions in Liberal Education,” a Teagle Foundation-funded conference hosted by Ursinus that fosters candid and probing discussions about the future of liberal education.
“Ursinus College, like many small colleges, has a reputation for changing lives—a phrase that has become so commonplace as to suggest liberal education provides a trivial transformation. Roosevelt Montás, Ursinus’s 2023 commencement speaker, provides a personal and dramatic counter-example to that cynical view,” said Mark Schneider, vice president for academic affairs and dean.
Copeland is currently the chief operating officer for the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. She will deliver the keynote address at Ursinus’s baccalaureate ceremony, a tradition where graduates gather as a class for one last time for songs and readings that represent the many faith traditions of the student body. She has worked for several faith-based organizations and in addition to anti-poverty work, she has advocated on environmental stewardship, racial reconciliation, immigration, healthcare, education, and more. Copeland formerly served as the director of the Ecumenical Poverty Initiative, an anti-poverty ministry, and as director of Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice.
“Roosevelt Montás and Leslie Copeland are thought leaders who have dedicated their professional lives to advancing many of the values that are central to the mission of Ursinus College. I’m looking forward to the wisdom they will impart to our graduating students, and I’m proud to welcome them to our commencement and baccalaureate ceremonies,” Ursinus President Robyn Hannigan said.