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Julia Kelto Lillis

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching
Adviser: Elizabeth Clark



Julia Kelto Lillis entered the Ph.D. program in religion at Duke in 2009 as a James B. Duke Fellow. She developed a new undergraduate course called "Formation of the Christian Biblical Canon" and has taught "Hellenistic Greek" for the Divinity School. She also has served as the teaching assistant for four courses and the preceptor for another. In addition, she has been a guest presenter in many local settings, including academic classrooms and faith communities. Lillis has completed The Graduate School’s Certificate in College Teaching and Preparing Future Faculty program. Her research focuses on early Christianity, and her dissertation is titled “Virgin Territory: Configuring Female Virginity in Early Christianity.”

In Her Words

"One of the most important things to do in the classroom is to have discussions among all the students and to find ways to connect what students are reading about and thinking critically about with things in their own lives.… Some of the most important learning I did during college was coming to understand viewpoints that were incomprehensible to me before because someone next to me in the room was able to articulate them and describe why they held that view or belief."

In Their Words

Excerpts from Lillis’s Nominations

“Students praise her knowledge, organization, patience, and willingness to spend time helping them above and beyond regular office-hour duties.”

“Not only did I feel fully confident in turning the class over to her when I was away, she also did better than I did in sensing when students needed more background or assistance in understanding some complex points.”

“The strength of Julie’s lecture was that she kept the students engaged with her interesting research, and she was able to discuss female sexual organs and sexuality in the graphic detail that was appropriate to the discussion, yet she handled the topic so deftly that it seemed like a natural and comfortable conversation for both her and the students.”

“When it comes to her teaching, she combines her calm authority with a humility that most undergraduates will find endearing as well as encouraging.”