November 15, 2005

An acclaimed scholar of American religious history took the helm of a major university last month when Nathan O. Hatch was installed as the 13th president of Wake Forest University. Hatch, 59, comes from the University of Notre Dame, where he climbed the ranks from junior faculty member to provost over 30 years. During that time, he made his mark as an expert on the evangelical piety of colonial America, particularly with his prize-winning 1991 book, The Democratization of American Christianity. Though scholars often become administrators, few religion specialists have in recent decades stepped into a major university’s top job. Hatch will oversee a Baptist-heritage campus in North Carolina of about 4,000 undergraduates and 2,400 graduate students.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was honored by Greek Orthodox Americans with their annual Athenagoras Human Rights Award at a banquet in New York October 22. Previous winners include former presidents Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush and Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Gorbachev’s political reforms dismantled the Iron Curtain and opened the Soviet bloc to the West. A member of the Russian Orthodox Church, Gorbachev also received the honorary title of Archon Great Orator from the current ecumenical patriarch, Bartholomeos, with Archbishop Demetrios of the U.S. doing the honors.