As chaplain of American University, Joseph Eldridge, SIS/MA ’81, can often be found on campus talking to colleagues, listening to students, and lending his support to countless university events.
Joe’s journey at American University began during a chance meeting in Brazil with former faculty member, Dr. Brady Tyson, where the two developed a friendship and mutual admiration for each other’s work in human rights. Dr. Tyson, now the namesake of AU’s Brady Tyson Award for Excellence in Work Related to Human Rights, recommended that Joe apply to the master’s degree program in international relations at the School of International Service. Fortunately for AU, Joe followed his friend’s advice, thus beginning a long, successful, and fulfilling career at the university where his passion and work now meaningfully intersect.
Although his current job concentrates on theology, it is widely known that Joe has a long and illustrious career in the international human rights and humanitarian field, focusing specifically on Latin America. While at AU, Joe was introduced to the concept of peace and conflict resolution from the well-renowned professor and scholar of peace and conflict studies, Abdul Aziz Said. Said also introduced the idea of civil resistance and peacemaking as drivers of sustained change, and this truly resonated with Joe’s passion for civil society and international transformation.
As university chaplain, Joe now uses many of his skills and experience to mentor students as they transition through some of the most transformative years of their lives. He enjoys watching students from when they first step onto campus through their days of graduation and the beginnings of various career paths. Joe is continuously enthusiastic about partaking in this vital era in the students’ lives and it is the reason he remains an integral part to the AU community.
However, guiding students is only one of the many ways Joe shows his support to American University. He also gives back through the university’s annual fund and is passionate about encouraging other alumni, faculty, staff, and parents to do the same. When discussing AU, he says, “AU is a place of utter transformation and it offers so many ways to find participation…a sense of community is in the air.”
So, as the 2013-14 school year comes to a close and AU presents its newest graduates to the world with all of the tradition, pomp, and circumstance they deserve, consider giving back to the community where many students, faculty, staff, parents, and friends began their journey.
In fact, there are countless places to offer your support, whether it is to a school’s specific Dean’s Fund, the AU Fund for Excellence, or the new UFUND, where the university’s own clubs and organizations fundraise for specific programmatic needs. The university relies on the support and dedication of alumni, faculty, and staff members like Joe, who truly inspire the rest of the AU community to give back to any area that signifies and commemorates your own AU experience.