Last week, the Randolph College Board of Trustees approved religious studies professor Suzanne Bessenger and English professor Gary Dop for tenure.
Bessenger came to Randolph in 2011 and teaches courses on Asian religions. As an undergraduate, she designed a major in anthropology and Asian studies to complete her degree at Mills College in Oakland, California. She went on to earn her master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Virginia. Her doctoral training is in the history of religions, with areas of expertise in Buddhist studies, particularly Tibetan Buddhism, as well as Hinduism and Chinese religions.
Bessenger organized visits by Tibetan Buddhist monks to Randolph in 2011 and 2013. The visits allowed students, the Randolph community, and the public to witness the construction of sacred sand mandalas in Houston Memorial Chapel. In 2016, she was selected to participate in a national seminar on teaching interfaith understanding, offered by the Council of Independent Colleges and Interfaith Youth Core, with support from the Henry Luce Foundation. She also recently published the book, Echoes of Enlightenment: The Life and Legacy of the Tibetan Female Saint Sonam Peldren, and her article, “I am a god, I am a god, I am definitely a god”: Deity Emanation and the Legitimation of Sonam Peldren, was published in the journal Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines this month
An accomplished poet, playwright, and performer, Dop began teaching at Randolph in 2013. He earned his B.S. degree from North Central University, his M.A. from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and his M.F.A. from the University of Nebraska. Dop’s writing has appeared in many national literary journals, including Prairie Schooner, New Letters, Agni, North American Review, Blackbird, Rattle, Poetry Northwest, and the Poetry Foundation’s column American Life in Poetry.
In 2013, Dop was awarded the Great Plains Emerging Writer Award, and in 2011 the Pushcart Prize Anthology highlighted his poetry with a Special Mention. Most recently, his poetry, along with several of his former students’, was published in the Fall/Winter 2016 issue of the Sugar House Review. In October 2016, the Washington Post published his social justice themed op-ed, “A Field Trip’s Hard Lesson.”