Two Ph.D. Students Succeed: Introducing Professors Fugikawa and Garland

Two Ph.D. Students Succeed:  Introducing Professors Fugikawa and Garland

The Patrick F. Taylor Ph.D. in Theology Program at Ave Maria University is able to boast a one hundred percent placement rate of graduates with doctoral degrees into teaching positions. Two of these placements were secured earlier this year.

Daniel Garland Jr. of Orlando, FL is a Ph.D. candidate in Systematic Theology at Ave Maria University. He received his B.A. in Theatre from Florida State University and an M.A. in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville. Beginning Fall 2015, Garland will be Visiting Lecturer in Theology at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia, where he will teach a section of Fundamentals of Catholic Doctrine and three sections of Introduction to the Old Testament.

Jason A. Fugikawa of Greenhills, Ohio earned his Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Ave Maria University in 2011. Before coming to AMU, he earned his B.A. in Theology and Classical Languages from Fordham University. For the last three years, Fugikawa has served as Dean of Academics and Faculty at Holy Family Academy in Manchester, New Hampshire. This Fall, he begins as Assistant Professor of Theology at St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee, Oklahoma, where he will teach Health Care Ethics and Introduction to Sacred Scripture.

Garland selected Ave Maria University’s doctoral program during his search for one that was “both authentically Catholic and academically rigorous,” he said. “I was drawn to the program’s strong emphasis on doing theology in light of both the ancients and the moderns, as well as ensuring a strong foundation in the different branches of theology (systematic, biblical, moral, historical), while at the same time integrating these branches so as to avoid a narrow specialization in just one.”

Fugikawa’s decision to pursue graduate studies in Theology resulted from his study of Newman’s Idea of a University and John Paul II’s Ex Corde Ecclesiae while a junior in college. “These two works,” he said, “impressed upon me both the profound opportunity to continue my formal study of theology and the responsibility to scrutinize carefully my choice of a graduate program in Catholic theology.” In February 2004, First Things announced the establishment of a graduate program in Theology at Ave Maria University. This announcement, Fugikawa continued, “signaled the promise of faithful Catholic teaching and a broad, rigorous course of graduate studies rarely enjoyed on American shores.”

During his residency at Ave Maria University, Fugikawa was invited to assist with the logistics—including providing transportation for the speakers—of a conference hosted by AMU’s Aquinas Center for Theological Renewal. “The experience,” he recalls, “did much to reinforce in me the humanity of these thinkers whom I had previously only known by their scholarly books and articles. Their expressed gratitude for my services and interest in my studies helped to define my own professional demeanor and approach to my students.”

Both Garland and Fugikawa are glad to be in the classroom this academic year. “I am most looking forward to teaching the faith to incoming freshmen who are eager to learn and grow in their knowledge of Christ, and [to sharing] the riches of the Old Testament with sophomores,” Garland, a husband and father of five, said. “I am also excited,” he continued, “to work with the wonderful faculty and staff at Christendom and be a part of their mission to restore all things in Christ by equipping the students with a liberal arts education that is rooted in the Catholic faith.” Fugikawa, a husband and father of four, is setting aside his three years of administrative work in order to be in the classroom full-time. He is looking forward to “working with students directly as they engage the difficult and seminal questions of the faith and what it means to be human.”

Garland fondly recalls some of the most memorable courses during his time in the AMU doctoral program, such as Dr. Roger Nutt’s Salvation in Aquinas, Dr. Michael Waldstein’s Gospel of John, Dr. Steven Long’s Praeambula Fidei, and Fr. Matthew Lamb’s Theology and Postmodernism. “It was an extraordinary opportunity to learn from amazing scholars,” he said. “I am most thankful for the strong theological formation I received in Ave Maria University’s doctoral program, which enabled me to find a great teaching position on my first attempt.”