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Distinguished Alum Awards

Reverend TiShaunda McPherson and Reverend Dr. Roger Ireson Named 2022 Distinguished Alums


Reverend TiShaunda McPherson (G-ETS 2015) and Reverend Dr. Roger Ireson (GTS 1966) have been named the 2022 Distinguished Alums of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Each year the seminary chooses two alums to be honored as Distinguished Alums. One alum is chosen from the most recent 25 years of graduates, and one alum is chosen from alums who graduated over 25 years ago. Both McPherson and Ireson will be honored at the 165th Commencement service on Friday, May 13, 2022, at Alice Millar Chapel, Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.



“Garrett-Evangelical has extraordinary alums serving throughout the world. Roger Ireson and TiShaunda McPherson are fully representative of the excellence our alums embody and we are so pleased to honor them for their faithful and impactful service. Their influence in the church and academy, and their particular passion for broadening the reach and inclusion of higher education has had a transformative impact on the lives of so many people around the globe and it is something for which we as a seminary are exceedingly proud.” – President Javier A. Viera.



The Reverend TiShaunda McPherson


Master of Divinity, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, 2015


The Reverend TiShaunda McPherson serves bi-vocationally as senior vice president and chief diversity officer at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago and as associate minister at DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church in Lisle, Illinois. She is drawn to ministry with youth and young adults and seeks to bring youthful energy and perspective to her preaching and teaching, making the Gospel relevant to the circumstances they face today. She uniquely connects biblical teachings and Christian doctrine with current affairs such that it is clear that God’s message of love, hope, and justice are just as timely today as when written in years past.


McPherson earned her master of divinity from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in 2015. She also holds a bachelor of science in psychology from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a master of public policy from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, and a juris doctor from Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law.


In 2022, McPherson joined NORC as senior vice president and the organization’s first-ever chief diversity officer. In this role, McPherson leads NORC’s efforts to build a more diverse, racially equitable, and inclusive workplace and research portfolio, and serves on NORC’s Executive Council, the company’s senior-most decision-making body.


Prior to joining NORC, McPherson served as senior associate vice president for equity at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. She oversaw the office of equity staff and its three priority areas: creating, reviewing, and implementing programs and policies to reinforce equitable learning and working environments; responding to reports of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation; and facilitating education and outreach initiatives to ensure individual and University-wide awareness and development of strategic processes for combating discriminatory treatment and practices.


McPherson has served in numerous civil rights positions in higher education and employment settings, including roles as a researcher, attorney, compliance professional, and equity officer, each of which strengthen her understanding of and bold leadership in the areas of equity and access.


McPherson is an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In her role as youth minister at DuPage AME Church, McPherson serves as a youth advocate and mentor. McPherson encourages new generations of leaders to view themselves the way God sees them and to pursue their dreams with confidence.


McPherson is married to her loving husband, Michael, and they have two handsome sons, Malcolm and Isaiah. She enjoys traveling and spending time family and friends who’ve become family.



The Reverend Dr. Roger Ireson

Master of Divinity, Garrett Theological Seminary, 1966


The Reverend Dr. Roger Iresonis a retired—yet still very active—United Methodist elder who has served as pastor, administrator, and professor in a variety of settings around the world.


Ireson holds a bachelor of arts from DePauw University and a master of divinity from Garrett Theological Seminary. Ireson was ordained a deacon in 1963 and an elder in 1966 with membership in the Detroit Annual Conference. Ireson earned his doctor of philosophy from Manchester University in England.


Ireson served as a pastor from 1970-1988 in both the suburbs and city of Detroit, Michigan. His appointments included: associate pastor, Franklin Community United Methodist Church, Franklin, Michigan; pastor of St. Paul United Methodist Church, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; and senior pastor, Saint Timothy United Methodist Church, Detroit, Michigan.


In 1988, Ireson was elected general secretary of The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) of The United Methodist Church, a position he held until his retirement in 2001. As general secretary, Ireson was responsible for church programs, policies, and general oversight related to 123 schools, colleges, universities, and theological seminaries; the ministries of ordained deacon and elder, local pastors, and diaconal ministers; and campus ministries, chaplains, and pastoral counselors. During Ireson’s leadership and at the urging of United Methodists in Africa, GBHEM established and developed Africa University in Zimbabwe, which now has 1500 students from 26 African countries.


Ireson was also instrumental in establishing the International Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges, and Universities (IAMSCU), having served as its founding president in 1991.


Ireson has served as a trustee of American University, Africa University, Meharry Medical College, Scarritt-Bennett Center, Scarritt Foundation, and the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation. Ireson has taught religion and humanities courses at Martin Methodist College, Green Mountain College, Vanderbilt Divinity School, Lawrence Technological University, and Marygrove College. As a consultant, Ireson has aided in the development of Methodist universities in Rosario, Argentina; Montevideo, Uruguay; Colegio Ward in Buenos Aires, Argentina; and the Methodist Church in Malaysia.


Ireson has received eight honorary doctorates from universities on three continents.


Ireson is married to Judy, who is a retired school principal. They currently live in Austin, Texas.