Trinity College alumnus Raja Changez Sultan, an internationally acclaimed Pakistani painter and poet, will be the guest speaker at Trinity’s 196th Commencement on Sunday, May 22.
Sultan graduated from Trinity in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He went on to earn two master’s degrees at Columbia University before becoming one of Pakistan’s most prolific creators, with an artistic career spanning over 50 years.
After completing his childhood education in Pakistan and England, Sultan arrived at the Trinity campus, where he wrote his first poem, “The Mirror”. The day after the poem was composed, Sultan sat in the cafeteria with English teacher Trinity Hugh Ogden, who read his poem and offered him the encouraging instruction to keep writing. Following his advice, Sultan forged an intellectual journey during which his work as a writer and painter was celebrated internationally.
“It is our privilege to welcome all of our well accomplished honorands to Trinity. We are very proud of each of them,” said Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney. “I am also grateful and delighted that Raja is addressing our launch attendees. Through the power of his work, he encouraged a whole generation to pursue his love for the arts, especially in his home country of Pakistan, and thus helped shape a more just society. His voice, alongside all of our distinguished honorands, will help make this year’s Commencement a truly special occasion.
Inspired by his countless works of poetry, Sultan’s paintings have been widely exhibited in Austria, England, Switzerland, Oman and Pakistan. While he continued to write and paint under the ideals of equity and inclusion, his career included service at the United Nations and the World Health Organization before taking on leadership positions for the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation. He was later appointed Director General of the National Arts Council of Pakistan in Islamabad, advancing the work of artists, thinkers, writers and visual and performing arts, allowing no challenge to hinder its promotion and support to the arts.
Sultan will receive an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts in recognition of his distinguished career and his dedication to a fairer society for his home country and for the world.
Honorary degrees will also be awarded to Lloyd Alexander Lewis Jr., the first African American from Alexandria, Va., to be ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church, and Cornelia Parsons Thornburgh, the first female board chair. from Trinity College.
Biographical information on Lewis and Thornburgh is below.
Lloyd Alexander Lewis Jr., Trinity College class of 1969
(to obtain the degree of Doctor of Theology, honoris causa)
Recognized as one of our country’s foremost religious minds, Lewis served as a preacher, teacher, pastor and distinguished scholar for more than 50 years.
Lewis graduated from Trinity College in 1969 with a BA in Classics. In 1985 he obtained a doctorate. in New Testament Studies from Yale University.
After being ordained a deacon and priest in the Episcopal Church, Lewis served parishes in Hartford and New Haven, Connecticut; Brooklyn and Garden City, New York; and Washington, D.C. Six years later, he joined the VTS faculty as an assistant, then associate, professor of New Testament and taught until 1991. For the next nine years he served as Dean of the George Mercer Jr. Memorial School of Theology and as associate bishop for education in the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island. In 2000 Lewis returned to the VTS and was later appointed Molly Laird Downs Professor in the New Testament, a position he held until his retirement in 2012.
He proudly represented the Episcopal Church as a member of the World Council of Churches theological education program in Prague, Czech Republic, and was a member of the General Board of Chaplain Examiners of the Episcopal Church, which directs, administers and assesses the National General Ordination Examination.
Lewis is a member of Alexandria [Virginia] African American Hall of Fame.
Cornelia Parsons Thornburgh, Class of 1980 at Trinity College
(to obtain the degree of doctor in human letters, honoris causa)
A longtime guardian and staunch supporter of Trinity College, Thornburgh spent 17 years as a dedicated member of Trinity’s board of trustees, most prominently as chair of the presidential search committee that brought the first female president to the college. in 2014, the same year. she would become chair of the board of directors.
Thornburgh earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Trinity in 1980, followed by an MBA from Columbia University.
In addition to her membership on the board of trustees, she devotedly served the college as the founder of the new Marjorie Butcher Circle, a philanthropic alumni leadership group; as Co-Chair of the Community Building Charter Committee; as three-time college capital campaign chair to raise $350 million; and as a member of the Council of Fellows. She was also one of the creators and is now a member of the Founders Council of the Women’s Leadership Council and is a Fellow of the Elms Society.
In 2010, she became the first alumnus to be awarded the Eigenbrodt Cup, one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a Trinity graduate, in recognition of her unusual and significant standing and service to Trinity. In 2013, to celebrate her cumulative lifetime giving, she and her husband, Richard E. Thornburgh, were included on Trinity’s Wall of Honor, which recognizes those whose philanthropy has had a profound impact on the college. In 2020, Thornburgh was named one of Trinity’s 50 for the Next 50, which, to celebrate 50 years of gender diversity at college, honored 50 women who will have a lasting impact over the next 50 years at Trinity.
In addition to her service at Trinity College, Thornburgh was the former chair of the board of trustees at Convent of the Sacred Heart, an independent K-12 girls’ school in New York City. She is the current chair of the board, as well as former secretary to the board and former head of the advancement committee, of The Lord’s Place, an organization committed to breaking the cycle of homelessness in the south. -East Florida.
For more information on the launch weekend, including a full schedule of events, click here.