Lilly Fellows Program at Valpo Welcomes Two Teaching-Scholars

rot1The Valparaiso University-based Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts welcomes two fellows to the program and University faculty, Ashleigh Elser in religious studies and Daniel Silliman in history.

During their two-year residencies at Valpo, each Lilly Fellow will teach in Christ College - The Honors College and the College of Arts and Sciences, participate in a weekly colloquium on Christianity and the academic vocation and conduct scholarly research.

Postdoctoral fellowships prepare teaching-scholars for positions of educational leadership and are one initiative of the Lilly Fellows Program, which seeks to strengthen the quality and shape the character of church-related institutions of learning. The program also maintains a collaborative National Network of more than 100 church-related colleges and universities and sponsors a national Graduate Fellows Program for exceptionally talented graduate scholars who are exploring vocations in church-related higher education. All programs are headquartered at Valparaiso University.

Ashleigh Elser earned her B.A. in philosophy and intercultural studies from Prairie College, her M.A. in religion and literature from Yale Divinity School and most recently a Ph.D. in religious studies at the University of Virginia, where she specialized in the areas of scripture, interpretation and practice. Elser’s research stands at the intersection of biblical studies, Jewish and Christian scriptural interpretations and modern religious thought, with a particular interest in how the difficulties of sacred texts are interpreted by modern readers. As a Lilly Fellow, Elser teaches courses in biblical studies and modern religious thought as well as the great books seminars in the Christ College Freshman Program.

Daniel Silliman, a U.S. historian, earned his B.A. in philosophy from Hillsdale College, his M.A. in American studies from the University of Tübingen and his doctorate from Heidelberg University. Silliman’s research explores the interactions between American religion and culture, and he is especially interested in the ways economic markets and media networks shape religious movements. His newest research project looks at class issues in early 20th-century revivalism and the spiritual values of early mass entertainment, and his popular writing appears regularly in the Washington Post. As a Lilly Fellow, Silliman teaches U.S. history survey, a seminar on media and the American presidency, a course on Watergate, and the great books seminars in the Christ College Freshman Program.

Elser and Silliman form the 26th cohort to be welcomed to Valpo’s faculty, joining 71 other Lilly Fellows who are now teaching at colleges and universities throughout the country.

Entering their second year as Lilly Fellows at Valparaiso University are Elizabeth Fredericks in English, Patrick Gardner in theology, and Chelsea Wagenaar in English/creative writing.

For more information on the Lilly Fellows Program, visit