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Valparaiso University Appoints Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair in Christian Ethics

Valparaiso University has named Thomas Albert (Tal) Howard, Ph.D., as the Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair in Christian Ethics. Professor Howard comes to Valpo from Gordon College, where he served as professor of history, director of the Center for Faith and Inquiry, and director of the Jerusalem & Athens Forum.

“I join the Valpo community in welcoming Tal to the University,” said Mark Biermann, Ph.D., provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “Tal brings an outstanding record of teaching and scholarly work to this position, and his intellectual contributions have earned him international recognition.”

In his role Professor Howard will develop and teach various courses in the field of Christian ethics, deliver an annual public lecture related to current issues from a theological ethics perspective, and provide campus leadership to support the Lutheran Church-related character of the University.

“Tal will be able to use his unique gifts to move the Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair in Christian Ethics forward in powerful new ways,” Provost Biermann said. “He will be able to build on the excellent work of the chair’s previous holder, Gil Meilaender, in order to bring another powerful perspective to the important work of the chair.”

In his previous role as director of the Center for Faith and Inquiry at Gordon College, Professor Howard collaborated across multiple disciplines and with various scholars to coordinate conferences and scholarly and pedagogical resources regarding timely issues that relate to Christian intellectual and moral life, including ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, teaching about Islam in a post-9/11 world, and others. He is published widely, including “Remembering the Reformation: An Inquiry into the Meanings of Protestantism” and “Protestantism after 500 Years,” co-edited with Mark Noll.

“It is simply a tremendous and humbling honor to have been offered this position,” Professor Howard said. “Valparaiso University has been a special place to me ever since I was a postdoctoral fellow in its Lilly Fellows Program in the late 1990s. My family and I are very pleased to return to Valpo, and I hope that through the activities as chair I am able to contribute to the cause of faith and learning and thereby advance the overall mission of the University.”

As Valparaiso University seeks to maintain and strengthen its ethos as an international Lutheran University in an increasingly diverse and globalized world, Professor Howard’s scholarship, public work, and deep understanding of the Lutheran tradition will offer Valpo yet another highly regarded scholar to provide oversight, wisdom, and pedagogy as the University looks to grow and diversify.

Professor Howard holds a Ph.D. in European History from the University of Virginia, an M.A. in Early Modern and Modern European History from the University of Virginia, and a B.A. in English Literature and History from the University of Alabama.