Rafael Luevano, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies and author of a recent book reflecting on the murders of hundreds of Mexican women, has been awarded the T.A. Abbott Award For Faculty Excellence by the Higher Education and Leadership Ministries (HELM) of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
“I’m thrilled to receive the award because it’s an honor to be a service to the Chapman University community as a priest and as a professor,” Luevano said.
The T.A. Abbott Award, presented now for the 30th consecutive year, was established through a gift to HELM from the descendants of the Rev. T. A. Abbott, an administrator and faculty member at Culver-Stockton College who died in 1914. Nominees must be full-time teaching faculty at Disciples-related institutions of higher education and be nominated by the institution’s chief academic officer. Criteria for selection include quality of teaching, personal example and commitment to the integration of Christian faith and learning.
The award announcement comes just as Luevano is preparing to go on sabbatical to continue his research into the narco-violence plaguing Mexico and the moral and theological questions it poses for drug runners and drug users on both sides of the border. The work is related to Luevano’s most recent book, Woman-Killing in Juarez: Theodicy at the Border, which explored the horrific murders of young women near the city of Ciudad Juarez in Mexico. In his next book Luevano says he hopes to bring both a theological and international perspective to the problem of narco-violence.
“I believe the book will be a significant contribution on both sides of the border to the international discussion regarding violence in Mexico and on the border,” he says. “It’s impossible to have this discussion without serious consideration of the United States’ interests with regard to violence, our economy and national disposition.”
HELM President Dennis Landon will present the award on March 15, 2014, on the Chapman University campus.
A member of the Chapman faculty since 2000, Luevano also serves as Roman Catholic Chaplain to the Chapman campus. Previously he was ecumenical and interreligious affairs officer for the Diocese of Orange and rector of Saint John’s Seminary College.
Luevano is the second Chapman faculty member to receive the award; Ronald Farmer, Ph.D., received it in 2008.
Luevano will receive an engraved plaque and a cash gift of $1,000, the latter to be used for expanding his personal library, developing new courses or continuing his education or research.