Those attending the opening morning ceremony of the Westminster Symposium on Religious Experience in Global Society were treated to the news that James W. "Jim" Harrod, Westminster Class of 1957, and his wife Sharon from Horseshoe Bay, TX, have established the Harrod-C.S.Lewis Professor of Religious Studies Chair at the College and named the Reverend Dr. Clifford C. Cain to be the first to hold the Chair.
Westminster President Dr. George B. Forsythe joined the Harrods on stage to make the announcement.
"This professor will be a leader among the faculty, a mentor to the students and a prominent scholar in the field," said President Forsythe. "Westminster has only five other professorships or chairs and adding a sixth is a huge step forward. This is happening purely because of the love Jim and Sharon have for the College and their support of it. I have no way to adequately thank them for this, but I thought 1,000 students, faculty and staff giving a standing ovation would be a fitting place to start."
Named in honor of C.S. Lewis, the author and lay theologian who wrote classics such as The Chronicles of Narnia, the Harrod-C.S. Lewis Professor of Religious Studies will research, write and teach on the history, current condition and future of religion. The Chair will begin in January 2013 and be funded through a bequest.
Westminster offers a major and minor in religious studies.
"We want to preserve faith as a viable part of the academic experience," says Sharon Herrod. "C.S. Lewis epitomized academic excellence, and his name is recognizable to everyone and is respected. So it is a natural fit."
Jim Harrod was born in Mexico, MO, and attended Fulton High School in Fulton, MO, where he was student body president. He started an Edward Jones office in Marshall, TX, at a time when the company only had 70 offices. He became regional manager of five states and then a General Partner in 1974. In 1990, he became head of the Edward Jones training department in St. Louis and served on the firm's management committee as well. He was a charter member of the security industry group that designed the securities continuing education program.
Harrod is retired from Edward Jones and a member of the Westminster Board of Trustees since 1995. He currently serves as Vice Chair of the Development Committee and a member of the Investment Committee on the Board. He was biology major and a member of the Missouri Gamma Chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity as a Westminster student.
"My wife and I initiated this professorship to give back to the College, says Herrod. "I've always admired C.S. Lewis and because of the English connection, I thought it fitting."
The Harrods are Friends of the Churchill Museum, members of the Westminster Leadership Society for lifetime giving and members of the True Blue Society. They have supported Westminster College in a multitude of ways, including the Westminster Fund, the Mueller Leadership Hall, the National Churchill Museum, the SAE House, Student Activities and the former Harrod Challenge. They have made the Westminster Talent Show possible for many years.
The announcement that Dr. Cain would be the first to hold this new endowed chair was kept as a surprise to him until the ceremony.
"The Harrod-C.S. Lewis Professorship of Religious Studies will honor the legacy of C.S. Lewis-a creative thinker, gifted writer, highly-regarded teacher and widely-respected individual," says Cain. "The Professorship will impact the campus community and the greater community through sharing the results of research, writing, lectures and presentations. As the occupant of this Professorship, I plan to use topics and issues that C.S. Lewis accented in his writings as a guide and springboard for the various programs. For example, he was very interested in how science and religion related, was personally affected by philosophical issues such as the problem of pain and suffering and frequently used fiction to devise metaphors for the religious journey and the Christian faith."
Dr. Cain is Professor of Religious Studies at Westminster and serves as an active counselor and minister on campus. His scholarly interests include world religions and interfaith dialogue, contemporary theology, environmental issues and the dialogue between science and religion.
He is the author of six academic books, six collections of sermons and numerous journal articles. His newest work, Many Heavens, One Earth, is an anthology on religious themes and teachings that focus on humans place in earth's ecosystems.
He also serves as the Theologian-in-Residence at First Presbyterian Church in Jefferson City, MO.
Dr. Cain holds degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary, Leiden University in the Netherlands, Vanderbilt University and Rikkyo University in Japan.