Roanoke College

College appoints first Charles and Helen Schumann Professor of Christian Ethics

  • College appoints first Charles and Helen Schumann Professor of Christian Ethics

  • 03/23/11
  • Roanoke College is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. James C. Peterson as the first holder of the Charles and Helen Schumann Chair of Christian Ethics. Peterson is the Roy A. Hope Professor of Theology and Ethics at McMaster Divinity College and a professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences training physicians at McMaster University, Ontario, Canada. He will assume the Schumann Chair beginning with the fall 2011 semester.

    The College also has appointed Peterson as its next Director of the Center for Religion and Society. He will succeed Dr. Robert Benne at the conclusion of the 2011-12 academic year.

    Peterson is a widely published author and frequently invited speaker on topics related to theology, ethics and science. His most recent book, Changing Human Nature: Ecology, Ethics, Genes, and God, examines the ethics of genetic intervention and has spurred invitations to lecture from the University of British Columbia to Queens to Oxford. A Henry R. Luce Scholar and winner of the Templeton Science and Theology course award, Peterson also is one of the editors for the journal Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith.

    "Roanoke College has a tradition of leadership in exploring and articulating Christian ethics," said President Michael Maxey. "Dr. Peterson is an outstanding leader who will enhance that critical contribution Roanoke College makes to society. That was the intention for the Schumann Chair, and Dr. Peterson admirably fulfills that intention."

    The professorship was endowed by Charles and Helen Schumann, who also endowed the Schumann Professorship of Lutheran Theology, held by Dr. Ned Wisnefske.

    Mr. Schumann said, "[It is our] broaden the education of young people. We feel that this is a way to prepare them for their part in the twenty-first century, a century that may well be the most important era of human existence. We believe, as [does] Roanoke College's leadership, that Dr. James C. Peterson will fulfill all that is hoped for in this position."

    "Charles and Helen Schumann have my deepest admiration and appreciation for their vision to fund a chair in Christian ethics," said Peterson. "Such a chair offers focus on a perspective that will contribute well to a college that draws from the best of the past and present to prepare students for the complex challenges ahead. Roanoke College has brought together august faculty and able students in a strikingly beautiful place. I am looking forward to being part of the conversation and discovery there."

    "I am delighted that James Peterson has been appointed to the Schumann Chair in Christian Ethics," said Dr. Robert Benne. "He is a leading scholar in bio-ethics in general and Christian bio-ethics in particular. His work in the ethics of genetic manipulation is cutting edge. I expect him to be a major contributor to bio-ethics discussion in the Roanoke Valley, the region, and the country."

    Benne, who will have completed 30 years as the director of the Center for Religion and Society, will work with Peterson next year before stepping down. "I will with full confidence turn over the reins of the Center to him," said Benne. "It is time to interject fresh thinking into the work of the Center, and I am certain that Dr. Peterson will do that with respect for the Center's past accomplishments and with energetic attention to new and different projects."

    Roanoke College, a classic liberal arts college in Salem, Virginia, combines firsthand learning with valuable personal connections in a beautiful, undergraduate setting. Roanoke is the nation's second oldest Lutheran college. Roanoke is one of just seven percent of colleges nationwide with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest and most prestigious honor society. The Princeton Review lists Roanoke as one of the "Best 376 Colleges" in its 2012 guidebook, which includes the top nine percent of colleges, and U.S. News & World Report ranks Roanoke the number seven "Up-and-coming National Liberal Arts College."

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