Rev. Robert Randall Distinguished
Professorship in Christian Culture
The Randall Professorship is held by a recognized scholar whose work concentrates on an understanding of culture that embodies a Christian view of human achievement. The selected individual contributes to undergraduate instruction in the theology, philosophy, history, literature, or the social sciences departments by participating in the Liberal Arts Honors and Development of Western Civilization Programs, directing student research, and delivering public lectures.
2014-15 Randall Chair: Kathleen Norris
Kathleen Norris, a celebrated author and poet and a Benedictine oblate, has been named the 2014-15 Rev. Robert J. Randall Distinguished Professor in Christian Culture at Providence College. She is the 11th person to serve as Randall Professor.
After attending preparatory school in Hawaii, Norris earned a bachelor’s degree from Bennington College in Vermont. Almost immediately after graduation, her laudable literary career took off. She has written seven books of poetry, including Falling Off (Follett Big Table Poetry, 1971), The Middle of the World (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1981), and Little Girls in Church (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1995).
Norris, who moved to South Dakota in 1974 after inheriting her grandparents’ farm, has been a prolific and award-winning author of non-fiction as well. Her book, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography (Houghton Mifflin, 1994), was named a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year” and was praised by Library Journal. Her other books include The Cloister Walk (Riverhead, 1996), The Virgin of Bennington (Riverhead, 2001), and Embracing a Life of Meaning (Church Publishing, 2012).
Norris’ essays and book reviews have appeared in a number of periodicals, including America, Christianity Today, The New York Times, and O Magazine, and she has served in editorial roles for the St. Katherine Review, The Christian Century, and Spirituality & Health.
She has received honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Notre Dame, Albright College, Concordia College, and South Dakota State University, and served on the board of trustees and board of overseers at St. John’s University (Minn.) and St. John’s School of Theology, respectively.
Norris divides her time between South Dakota and Honolulu, where she volunteers at an Episcopal church, cooks for a homeless shelter, and helps teach a spirituality class for teenagers. She travels to the mainland regularly to speak to students, medical professionals, social workers, and chaplains at colleges and universities, as well as churches and teaching hospitals.