Two Grads Win Distinguished Alum Awards

Each spring the Seminary honors a number grads with the Distinguished Alumnae/I Awards. Meet two of this year’s honorees: Dr. Sandra Collins ’87 (academia) and the Rev. Dr. Herbert V. R. P. Jones ’83 (specialized ministry).

Sandra Collins

For the past decade, Dr. Sandra Collins ’87 has served as professor of sacred Scripture at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Ss. Cyril and Methodius, an Eastern Catholic seminary in the Observatory Hill area of Pittsburgh. Also as director of information services at the seminary, Sandra has responsibility for the library and for instituting and directing Byzantine Online, the school’s distance learning program.

Sandra completed her master’s work in church history at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Here she studied with now P. C. Rossin Professor Emeritus of Church History the Rev. Dr. John Wilson, for whom she wrote her thesis on John Henry Cardinal Newman and ecclesiastical authority. Sandra went on to earn her master’s in library science and her Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh, where in her doctoral program she concentrated in Jewish Studies and Gender. In 2012 Cambridge Scholars Press published her book, Weapons Upon Her Body: the Female Heroic in the Hebrew Bible, which grew out of her dissertation. Several years later, she received The Catholic Library Association’s John Brubaker Award for her article “A Wandering Aramean: ATLA and the Scholar of Eastern Christianity,” published in the Association’s award-winning journal, Catholic Library World.

Sandra has also worked at Trinity School for Ministry, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and Duquesne University as a theological librarian. She writes a regular column on forthcoming books on religion for Library Journal and for Women in Judaism. And, when her ire is piqued, she contributes opinion pieces to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Herbert Jones

The Rev. Dr. Herbert V. R. P. Jones ’83, founder and director of The Heritage Gospel Chorale of Pittsburgh, is one of the nation’s foremost figures in choral conducting and pedagogy and an expert on the intersection between theology and musical expression. He has cultivated a multifaceted career as a choral conductor, educator, operatic and oratorio bass, liturgical dancer, orator, and pastor who has taught and performed across the United States and Europe. Currently Dr. Jones serves as minister of music at Bethany Baptist Church (Homewood, Pa.) and as adjunct faculty at Geneva College’s Center for Urban Biblical Ministry.

Selected in 2011 by the New Pittsburgh Courier as one of “50 Men of Excellence” and recognized in 2013 by the Rachel Randall Education Ministry (Pittsburgh) as one of five “Men of Distinction,” Dr. Jones holds music multiple master’s degrees (in counseling psychology, choral conducting/music education, and divinity) and two doctoral degrees (in musical arts and in ethnomusicology).

A retired member of the music faculty of greater Pittsburgh’s Community College of Allegheny County, Dr. Jones has also taught in Mississippi, North Dakota, and Arkansas. He is a leading authority on the music of Moses George Hogan and is currently working with The Spirituals Project, PBS, and others to produce a documentary on the life of this internationally renowned African-American composer, best known for his arrangements of spirituals.

Dr. Jones is executive assistant to the academic dean/academic division of the Gospel Music Workshop of America, Inc. He sits on the Boards of the Afro-American Music Institute (Pittsburgh), Professionals for Christ, Inc. (Birmingham, Ala.), Pentecostal Temple Development Corporation (Pittsburgh), RAISE Academy (Columbus, Ohio), and Holcolm Music Academy (Atlanta).