Lecture to Honor Religion Profs Retirement
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, Derrs predecessor as the former chair of the religion department at Smith, founded the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University, which was eventually ranked among the top departments in the nation.
In honor of Derrs years of service, on Tuesday, October 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 Browsing Room.
May, the Cary M. Maguire University Professor of Ethics Emeritus at Southern Methodist University, is a member of the Presidents Council on Bioethics, a high-profile group in todays 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 Universitys 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 Smiths Afro-American studies department, from 1991 to 1993 and again in 199899.
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.
Mays 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.