October 18, 2002
BIOETHICIST WILLIAM MAY,
MEMBER OF THE PRESIDENT'S COUNCIL ON BIOETHICS, TO LECTURE AT
Public Lecture Honors Retiring
Religion Professor Thomas Derr
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.-In 1963, Thomas
Derr, professor of religion, joined the Smith faculty as an instructor
and assistant chaplain. He went on to serve as religion department
chair from 1971 to 1974 and again from 1994 to 1997.
Now, after almost 40 years at Smith, Derr will retire this year.
Also in 1963, William F. May, Derr's predecessor as the former
chair of the religion department at Smith, founded the Department
of Religious Studies at Indiana University, which was later ranked
among the top departments in the nation.
In honor of Derr's years of service, on Tuesday, Oct. 29, May
will return to Smith to give a lecture, "The Shift in Political
Anxieties in the West: From the 'Russians Are Coming' to the
Coming Anarchy," at 4:30 p.m. in Neilson Library Browsing
The event is free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible.
May, the Cary M. Maguire University Professor of Ethics Emeritus
at Southern Methodist University, is a member of the President's
Council on Bioethics, a high-profile group in today's world of
fast-moving medical technology. He also serves as the president
of the Society for Christian Ethics, has published widely on
medical ethics and served in 1993 on the subgroup on "Ethical
Foundations" for the Clinton Task Force on National Health
Care Reform. His latest book is titled "Beleaguered Rulers:
The Public Obligation of the Professional."
May, who earned degrees from Princeton and Yale universities,
served as the Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., Professor of Christian
Ethics at Georgetown University's Kennedy Institute of Ethics.
He received the Distinguished Teaching Award from Indiana University
in 1970, the Scholar/Teacher Award from Southern Methodist in
1989 and the Outstanding Teaching Award from the American Academy
of Religion in 1993.
Derr has written and taught courses on social and political ethics
and was ordained to the ministry of the United Church of Christ
in 1956. He twice served as chair of Smith's Afro-American studies
department, from 1991 to 1993 and again in 1998 to 1999.
After receiving degrees from Harvard University and Union Theological
Seminary, Derr served as assistant chaplain for Stanford University
and served a two-year stint as a research associate with the
World Council of Churches in Geneva. He was twice awarded Danforth
Foundation grants for religious study and was a fellow at the
Institute for the Advanced Study of Religion at the University
of Chicago in 1981.
Derr is among the longest-serving faculty members at Smith.
May's lecture in his honor is sponsored by the Department of
Religion and Biblical Literature, the Office of the President,
Office of the Provost and the Smith College Lecture Committee.