The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Katharine Jefferts Schori Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Janice Dilg.

August 15, 2014


“From OSU Oceanographer to International Religious Leader”  August 15, 2014  Location: Oregon State University Foundation Portland Center, Portland, Oregon.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In the interview, Jefferts Schori discusses her upbringing and the roots of her interests in both science and religion. She also notes her undergraduate years at Stanford University, where she studied Marine Biology.

Jefferts Schori next reflects on her time as a graduate student in Oceanography at Oregon State University. In so doing, she remarks on her varying research interests, her social experience, her sense of campus culture in the mid- to late-1970s, and the challenges facing women in science at the time. She also describes her early development within the local Episcopal congregation and recounts meeting her husband, who was likewise a member of the congregation.

The bulk of the session focuses on Jefferts Schori's evolution as a student of religion and as a leader within the church. She describes her experiences in divinity school and her early activities as a member of the clergy in Corvallis. She then sheds insight into her election as Bishop of the Nevada diocese and her activities in that position.

From there Jefferts Schori discusses the story of her election to the highest leadership post within the Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop and Primate, and the particular issues that she faced as the first woman to occupy this role. In this, she recounts the process by which she was elected, her investiture and vestments, her responsibilities as leader of an international religious community, and her assessment looking back on nine years in the position. The interview closes with a coda detailing Jefferts Schori's history as an airplane pilot and her love of flying.