Graduate school of arts and sciences

Episcopal presiding bishop receives Bouchet Medal

On April 9, President Peter Salovey ’86PhD presented the 2021 Bouchet Leadership Award Medal to Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry ’78MDiv, the head of the Episcopal Church, as part of the closing ceremony of the 17th annual Yale Bouchet Conference on Diversity and Graduate Education. The Bouchet Leadership Medal is a national award given to leaders in academia and the community who are outstanding in their own fields of study, and who serve as inspirational role models to people of all ages.

Michael Bruce Curry (born March 13, 1953) is the 27th and current presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church. Elected in 2015, he is the first African American to serve as presiding bishop in the Episcopal Church. He was previously bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina.

The descendant of enslaved Africans brought to North America by way of the trans-Atlantic slave routes, Curry was raised by his father and his grandmother, who grounded him in Christian beliefs and practices through their example and teachings. He attended public schools in Buffalo, New York, and at an early age learned about social activism through his father’s leadership and his own dedication to righting a broken world.

Curry delivered the keynote address at this year’s national conference honoring the life and legacy of Edward Alexander Bouchet (1852–1918), who graduated from Yale College in 1874. Bouchet went on to be the first self-identified African American to receive a doctorate from an American university when he earned a PhD in physics at Yale University in 1876. At that time, he was the sixth person in the western hemisphere to earn a doctorate in physics. He was also one of the first African Americans to be elected to the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. 

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