Chair’s Welcome

Dr. Molly Bassett and family. Photo courtesy of Chanda Willams.

Each semester as classes wind down, I like to leave students a few treats before finals. I’ll send my class an email or post an announcement with a short list of fun things I’ve read or seen online or a GIF of a dancing rainbow unicorn or a cute puppy chasing its tail. Like those messages, this newsletter is full of good treats.

Our graduating majors and graduate students are headed off into the world where they’ll pursue advanced degrees and careers that will benefit our communities. This spring, we have had the pleasure of honoring three students with department awards. Our students have presented research at GSURC, the AAR, and many other conferences. Five of our MA students represented Georgia State at the Southeastern Conference on the Study of Religion in Athens, GA, in February! (Be sure to read our highlight on Catherine Moore’s work!)

Our faculty are in the midst of exciting transitions. In August, Dr. Herman will retire after 19 years at Georgia State, and Dr. Moultrie will return from a year at Harvard. Cassandra Velasco, an alumna who has taught with us the past two years, moves into full-time work as the Director of Children’s Programming for the Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence. We also offer congratulations to Visiting Lecturer Ryan Woods, who accepted a position as a Course Developer for Docebo, a Milan-based LMS. (Fear not, he’ll be back to teach with us here and there!)

As you read on, you’ll discover the important work our students have undertaken in Atlanta this year. They have worked in health care, education, and non-profit to raise awareness about advance directives, improve religious literacy, and increase census participation in Latinx communities.

At the same time, our year—our world—has changed in ways we did not anticipate when classes began in August. I usually write this letter sitting in an office that overlooks Five Points from seventeen flights up. Now I’m at my dining room table in Kirkwood. My kids are asleep upstairs. My spouse is replying to work emails. In a few minutes, we’ll watch “Top Chef” or “Upload.” Tomorrow will be much like today. We’ll take turns running, the kids will login for first grade (yes, the three-year-old, too), and I’ll talk to Claire about hiring summer GRAs and to Lauren about this newsletter. Eddy and I will exchange emails about how to plan for fall classes. I’ll remember that I need to reach out to our Alumni Board members. (Hi you all! I know I owe you an email.) I’ll talk to a prospective student. I’ll make a grocery list for the next day and set it beside the mask I made a few weeks ago.

Tonight I am grateful for you all: my colleagues, students, alumni, friends. I miss seeing you. I miss the funny way Langdale smells and walking the worn-in path from 25 Park Place to Classroom South. I miss stepping over the legs of students hunkering in hallways between classes. I even miss the temptation of the under-baked almond croissants at a coffee shop I won’t name.

Here’s where the dancing rainbow unicorn GIF would come in handy. (The scrolling rows of lucky charm marshmallows would work, too.) In their absence, I hope that you are able to make time to listen to a good podcast (or two!), read a new book, take a long walk, call a close friend, and feed your sourdough starter. (Hi, Kathryn!) When the time is right, we’ll see one another again on campus, and until then, be well friends.

Molly Bassett