'Existentially profound' Ph.D. student remembered for kindness, warmth, curiosity

Azizou Atte-oudeyi

By John Waterhouse
Special to Rice News

Azizou Atte-oudeyiAzizou Atte-oudeyi, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Humanities’ Department of Religion, died Sept. 20 from complications with malaria.

Atte-oudeyi worked closely with Elias Bongmba, the Harry and Hazel Chavanne Professor of Christian Theology. He was deeply interested in Islam and Christianity in the African context. His research focused on conversion experiences, contemporary African Christianity and Islam, and the impact both religions have had and continue to have on social and economic development in West Africa.

One of his professors referred to him as “existentially profound” and another noted he “thought deeply and saw problems clearly, without losing his capacity for wonder.”

“Azizou was known by students and faculty in our school for his kindness, warmth and intellectual curiosity,” said Kathleen Canning, dean of the School of Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of History. “He was a generous scholar, colleague and friend, and our entire community is saddened by his passing.”

Atte-oudeyi joined Rice in 2018 after serving as a diplomat and a Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellow for the U.S. State Department. He was born into a family of 10 in Togo. He traveled to America on a diversity visa and became a U.S. citizen in 2005.

He was awarded a fellowship from the university’s Boniuk Institute for the Study and Advancement of Religious Tolerance. He received a bachelor’s degree in international studies from American International College, a master’s in international sustainable development from Brandeis University and a master’s in religious studies from Rice.

Atte-oudeyi is survived by his wife, Cherifa, and their three children. The Department of Religion intends to hold a memorial service in the coming weeks. More information will be shared as plans are finalized.

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