Vitale receives Sachs scholarship for study at Oxford
By Ruth Stevens
Princeton NJ -- Senior Vincent Vitale has been named the recipient of the 2004 Daniel Sachs Class of 1960 Graduating Scholarship.
The award, one of the highest honors given to Princeton undergraduates, was established in 1970 to provide a senior with the opportunity to study, work or travel abroad after graduation. It will fund Vitale's tuition and living expenses for the next two years as he pursues an M.Phil. in philosophical theology at Oxford University in England.
Vitale, who is from Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., and a graduate of Christian Brothers Academy, is an A.B. candidate in philosophy with a particular interest in the philosophy of religion. At Oxford, he expects to continue to focus on two philosophers, St. Thomas Aquinas and Soren Kierkegaard. The Oxford course of study combines the contemporary philosophy of religion with the history of philosophical theology and culminates in a 30,000-word thesis.
Currently, Vitale is completing a senior thesis tentatively titled "Divine Modality and Political Theory." He also has written substantial academic papers on "The Coherence and Significance of [Radical] Omnipotence" and "Kierkegaard's Teleological Suspension as an Ontological Redemption." After finishing graduate school, he hopes to teach at a secular university and eventually to pastor an evangelical church.
"When I heard that I had received the scholarship, I was intensely thankful," Vitale said. "So many people are involved: my precious family, my dear friends, Daniel Sachs and those who have carried on his legacy. My receiving this stewardship is the product of so many encouraging words, prayers, criticisms and challenges."
Classmates and friends established the scholarship in memory of Daniel Sachs, who starred in football and lacrosse at Princeton before attending Worcester College at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He died of cancer at age 28. The award is given to the senior who best exemplifies Sachs' character, intelligence and commitment, and whose scholarship is most likely to benefit the public.
"Vince Vitale has devoted a great deal of energy to athletics and to various religious and volunteer activities on and off campus, but none of this has detracted even slightly from his academic achievements," said Jeffrey Stout, professor of religion. "At this point, he knows as much about theology as any rising senior I have ever taught. In the classroom, he is forthright and courageous in expressing his views. He's a tenacious thinker and arguer. Criticism does not deter him. He listens carefully, perfectly at ease with himself, and tries to fix what is wrong with his argument.
"I have known Vince since his senior year of high school, when he happened to join a soccer team I was then coaching," Stout continued. "It has been a great pleasure to watch him come of age intellectually and as a leader over the last few years."
Vitale is the recipient of a Pew Younger "Traditio" Scholarship, intended to identify the "next generation of Christian scholars." He spent a month last summer at the University of Notre Dame studying with 19 other scholars. He also spent the spring 2002 term studying philosophy and religion at Oxford. He has served as a peer adviser in Princeton's philosophy department.
Also an accomplished athlete, Vitale has competed on the varsity soccer team for four years. This year, he is serving as student director of Athletes in Action Christian Fellowship, a student-led ministry with some 100 members. He also launched and co-leads a chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Lawrenceville High School.
Vitale, who has a deep commitment to volunteer service, has participated in the Big Brothers/ Big Sisters mentoring program through the Student Volunteers Council at Princeton and coordinated a service project involving 20 students in New York following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He has worked to raise funds to support children's initiatives in Kenya and in Zambia, where he also participated in an Athletes in Action soccer ministry.