When Jennifer Barkley Jones Austin—attorney, social justice advocate, executive director of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, influential member of several Boards, and advisor on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Fair Recovery COVID-19 Task Force—was approached about having her name presented to the Nyack College/Alliance Theological Seminary (ATS) Board of Trustees as a candidate for receiving an honorary doctorate at the College’s May 2020 Commencement ceremony, she responded affirmatively.
Yet it was the persistent COVID-19 pandemic that prohibited the presentation of that honorary degree more than a year ago.
The timing and the place could not have been a better venue for Nyack/ATS administrators to confer the Doctor of Letters. The ceremony took place during the Sunday morning worship service on December 12, 2021 at Bethany Baptist Church located at 460 Marcus Garvey Blvd., in Brooklyn, NY where Dr. Jones Austin’s father, the late Rev. Dr. William A. Jones, Jr. served as senior pastor for 43 years until his retirement in 2005.
The degree presentation and installation into the Nyack President’s Hall of Distinction was officiated by President Rajan Mathews along with ATS Dean Dr. Ronald Walborn and Vice President of Church Relations/ Dean of the Chapel Dr. Charles Hammond with Bethany Baptist Senior Pastor Rev. Dr. Adolphus Lacey on hand.
The author of Consider It Pure Joy published in 2018, Dr. Jones Austin is on the staff of Nyack’s Center for Racial Reconciliation (CRR) and has been a powerful CRR “Beyond Diversity” series speaker.
“I am deeply moved to have received an honorary degree from Nyack College, and to be inducted into the President’s Hall of Distinction. That this esteemed institution deemed me worthy of such recognition gives me immense joy and encourages me to continue striving to live as God the Revolutionary taught—in service and pursuit of justice and equity for all,” said Jennifer Jones Austin.
The campus community extends congratulations to this extraordinary new alumna of Nyack College and ATS.