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Two Whitworth alums selected for esteemed Lilly Graduate Fellows Program

July 26, 2011
Whitworth alumni Chris Holmes, '06, and Heather Wallace, '11, are among 16 people nationwide selected to the prestigious Lilly Graduate Fellows Program this year. The graduate program is part of the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts that supports outstanding students who want to explore the connections among Christianity, higher education, and the vocation of the teacher-scholar.

Holmes, Wallace, and the other 14 fellows were selected by a nine-member committee who interviewed 24 finalists selected from an original group of 61 applicants. Over a three-year period, the fellows, along with two mentors who are senior scholars in the Lilly Fellows Program Network, will communicate and collaborate in the areas of research, teaching and professional development. Each will attend four conferences in the next three years, will participate in group readings and online discussions, and will receive an annual $3,000.

"Being selected for this program is an honor first because I had to be recommended by Whitworth even to apply, and it means a lot to have the support and endorsement of a place like Whitworth," says Holmes, who received his M.Div. this year from Princeton Theological Seminary and will be pursuing a doctorate in New Testament studies at Emory University, in Atlanta. "Beyond that, it's an honor to have been selected from such a competitive pool of applicants and to have the opportunity to work with an outstanding program like Lilly's."

Holmes says he wanted to participate in the graduate program because he feels that teaching in an institution of higher education is a vital part of his vocation. He says he's looking forward to thinking about the opportunities and challenges that come with that vocation with other up-and-coming scholars who are working in other fields, as they will add breadth to his own career preparation and research interests.

"I really hope to gain a group of peers who share a similar passion for teaching as a form of Christian ministry, and I hope that my time in the program will help me better fulfill the vocation to which I have been called," he says.

Wallace, who will be pursuing a doctorate in philosophy at Duke University, says the program will provide her with invaluable mentoring and networking opportunities in the Christian academic community.

"I am thrilled to be selected for this program, especially as a Christian philosophy student entering a secular philosophy department at Duke," Wallace says. "The community in the cohort and the fellowship award will help me transition into Christian professionalism."

Wallace, Holmes, and the other fellows will meet with their mentors—Caroline Simon, of Hope College and Thomas S. Hibbs, of Baylor University— at an inaugural conference in Indianapolis in August. The conference topic will be Christian hospitality.

Another Whitworth alum, Kelly Vincent, '09, was selected to the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program in its first year in 2009, making a total of three Whitworth alumni who have earned fellowships in the first four years of the program. The program is funded by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.

"This is a stellar accomplishment as each of the more than 90 schools now part of the national Lilly Fellows Program network can nominate up to three candidates for the 16 awards granted annually," says Arlin Migliazzo, professor of history at Whitworth and the university's faculty representative to the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts. "Chris and Heather's selection this year, as well as Kelly's in 2009, demonstrates that our graduates can compete successfully for prestigious awards with students from other Lilly Fellows Program institutions such as Wheaton College, the University of Notre Dame, Calvin College, Baylor University, and Boston College."

Whitworth is a charter member of the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts, which began in 1991 with 26 church-related colleges and universities from across the country. Since its founding, the Lilly Fellows Program has provided postdoctoral fellowships for teacher-scholars who seek to enrich their intellectual and spiritual lives while preparing for leadership roles in church-related higher education. The program also supports mentoring programs for new and junior family members at network institutions, exchange programs showcasing distinctive programs that highlight the church-related characteristics of institutions and conferences examining matters of interest to those involved in Christian higher education. For more information, please visit

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Arlin Migliazzo, professor of history, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4367 or

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or