Bidding farewell to a model steward

J. Irwin Miller, noted philanthropist, lay religious leader, dedicated supporter of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), longtime board member of Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana, and an exemplar of the finest qualities of the nonprofit trustee, died on Monday, August 16, from natural causes at age 95. During the 1990s, many hundreds of seminary board members came to know him through the half-hour video program titled Irwin Miller: Portrait of a Trustee, in which he reflected on the rewards and challenges of board service.

Miller led the Cummins Engine Company (Columbus, Indiana) for more than forty years, overseeing its transformation from a small, family-owned firm to a Fortune 500 company with more than 25,000 employees in 131 countries and more than $6 billion in annual sales. In over half a century on the Cummins payroll, Miller gave away 30 percent of his pre-tax salary. And following its longtime CEO's example, Cummins still donates 5 percent of the company's pre-tax profit to charity.

Christian Theological Seminary was often on the receiving end of Miller's largesse, sometimes in contributions to capital campaigns, often in support of the operating budget, and in support of endowed scholarships on other occasions. His strong belief in architecture and art as expressions of a vibrant faith is felt in the design of the seminary's chapel and other buildings on campus.

Miller's many contributions to religion led to his selection as the first lay president of the National Council of Churches (NCC) from 1960 to 1963. Under his leadership, the NCC founded the Commission on Religion and Race, which coordinated organized religion's support for strong civil rights legislation, and jointly sponsored the March on Washington. Commenting on Miller's impact on the NCC, General Secretary Bob Edgar stated, "He was especially supportive of the NCC's priority work to rebuild burned Black churches, to combat poverty, and to revise its own life and mission for the 21st century."

A news release from CTS noted that Miller's "abiding faith was more than personal. His integrity and ethics were reflected frequently in boardrooms and civic halls in stands against inequality and injustice. We thank the Almighty for this magnificent life well lived."

J. Irwin Miller on Board Service from Irwin Miller: Portrait of a Trustee

  • As you look for members of the board, find people who are committed to the purposes of the institution and then they will be your chief resources, not only in the vision of the institution, but also in generating resources from other people.
  • All trustees ought to be passed through the screen of selfless commitment to the education of Christian students and second to their belief that this institution is the place where they can give their best service. 
  • A person who listens intelligently, who asks commonsense questions without embarrassment, who presents an outside point of view that is usually refreshing, can add enormously to every meeting. 
  • It's a mistake to say this will only take a few hours of your time two or three times a year. If you are the right kind of trustee, it will take some night work.

Harvard Divinity School to Pursue Islamic Appointment Minus Sheikh's Gift

William A. Graham, dean of Harvard Divinity School, has announced that the Faculty of Divinity will pursue an appointment in Islamic religious studies supported by special university funds. The dean's announcement comes after a decision by Harvard University to place on hold a gift of $2.5 million that came to the divinity school in 2000 from Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates. In the meantime, President Zayed has withdrawn his donation to the university.

The gift had been questioned in the last year because of activities undertaken by an organization in Abu Dhabi, known as the Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow-up, that were contrary to academic values and to the express purpose of the professorship "to promote a better understanding of Islam among the non-Muslim peoples of the world and the dialogue among the world's great religions." In August, the United Arab Emirates announced a directive by Sheikh Zayed that closed the center, citing activities "that starkly contradicted the principles of interfaith tolerance" that the sheikh has professed.

In announcing that HDS would proceed to search for a senior faculty member in Islamic religious studies with other funding, Graham said of the issues surrounding the Zayed funds: "From the beginning of the year, we have been extremely concerned over questions raised about the Zayed gift, and we have worked closely with colleagues in the central administration on developing an appropriate course of action for the university. I respect the range of opinions expressed during this time and want to reassure all concerned that, whatever is ultimately decided about this particular gift, the divinity school and the university remain committed to the highest principles of religious tolerance and diversity."

Source: Harvard Divinity School

Changes at the Top

■ On January 15, 2004, leadership of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (Wake Forest, North Carolina) passed from Interim President Bart C. Neal to the school's sixth president, Daniel L. Akin. No stranger to Southeastern, Akin previously served at the school as assistant professor of theology and dean of students from 1992-1996, before accepting the position of vice president for academic administration/dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

■ The Reverend Canon Eric Beresford will assume the presidency of Atlantic School of Theology (Halifax, Nova Scotia) on December 1, 2004, succeeding seven-year president, William Close. Beresford is currently employed by the Anglican Church of Canada (in Toronto) as Consultant for Ethics and Interfaith Relations. Helga Mills, principal emeritus of St. Paul's United College, University of Waterloo, Ontario, is serving as interim president at AST during the fall term.

■ The Reverend Canon Joseph Britton has been named dean of the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale and associate dean of Yale Divinity School, succeeding Interim Associate Dean Frederick Borsch, the retired Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. Britton, who assumed his new assignment on July 1, 2004, is an Episcopal Church Foundation Fellow and a member of the Society of Christian Ethics and the American Academy of Religion. He comes to Berkeley from the European Institute of Christian Studies in Paris, where he was the founding director.

■ The Very Reverend Gerald L. Brown, SS, has been appointed new president/rector of St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park, California, effective July 1, 2004. The president/rector at Assumption Seminary in San Antonio, Texas since 2000, Brown succeeds the Reverend Gerald D. Coleman, SS, who has served for sixteen years as president/ rector of St. Patrick's Seminary. Coleman plans to take a sabbatical year at the Carmelite Monastery in Carmel, where he will serve as chaplain to the Carmelite sisters.

■ The Very Reverend Warren A. Brown, OMI, assistant professor of church law and Judge of the Appellate Court for the Dioceses of Texas, has been appointed interim president of Oblate School of Theology (San Antonio, Texas), effective July 1, 2004. He steps in for the Very Reverend J. William Morell, OMI, who is on sabbatical following nine years in the presidency.

■ New Testament scholar Erwin Buck, a longtime member of the seminary's faculty, has been named interim president of Lutheran Theological Seminary (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), as the governing board continues the presidential search process. Faith Rohrbough, the school's president since 1996, retired on June 30, 2004.

■ Approaching its bicentennial in 2007, Andover Newton Theological School (Newton Centre, Massachusetts) has named Reverend Nick Carter as its president, effective July 1, 2004. An ordained American Baptist minister specializing in institutional transformation, Carter's immediate challenge, according to a press release from the school, is to bring his entrepreneurial flair to "the second phase of a massive capital campaign drive to shore up Andover Newton's financial situation." He succeeds Benjamin Griffin, who, following nine years in the presidency, retired on June 30.

■ The Very Reverend Thomas P. Cassidy, SCJ, became president-rector of Sacred Heart School of Theology (Hales Corner, Wisconsin). Cassidy received the Master of Divinity degree from the seminary, worked in the Sacred Heart formation department from 1972-73, and served on the seminary's board of directors from 1989-91. He succeeds the Very Reverend James D. Brackin, SCJ.

■ The Very Reverend Lawrence J. Christian has been appointed president of Assumption Seminary (San Antonio, Texas), succeeding Gerald Brown.

■ The Franciscan Friars have appointed educator Reverend Mario DiCicco, OFM, to serve as president of the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, California, effective July, 2004. He succeeds Reverend William Cieslak, OFM Cap., FST's president for the past twelve years and a faculty member for twenty-five years. Father DiCicco most recently served as interim president of Quincy (Illinois) University.

■ Tom Faulkner moved into the presidency of St. Andrew's College and St. Stephen's College (Edmonton, Alberta) on July 1, 2004, picking up leadership responsibilities from Interim President George Rodgers. Faulkner most recently served as professor and chair of the department of comparative religion at Dalhousie University of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

■ Jeff Iorg, the seventh president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, (Mill Valley, California) began his new assignment on August 1. The executive director-treasurer of the Northwest Baptist Convention since 1995, Iorg was the founding pastor of the Greater Gresham (Oregon) Baptist Church and has also pastored churches in Missouri and Texas. Immediate past president William Crews has been named chancellor of the seminary.

 David Maldonado, Jr. has retired from the presidency of The Iliff School of Theology (Denver, CO), effective May 26, 2004, a position he had held since June 2000. As the governing board searches for the school's next president, J. Philip Wogaman, a retired United Methodist minister and professor emeritus of Christian ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary (Washington, D.C.), will serve as interim president.

■ The Reverend Edward P. Smith, director of formation at Mount St. Mary's Seminary and former vice rector and director of liturgy at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, has been appointed the thirty-second president/rector of The Athenaeum of Ohio/Mount St. Mary's Seminary (Cincinnati), effective July 1. He follows The Reverend Gerald R. Haemmerle.

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