Phi Beta Kappa's Churchill is commencement speaker for Class of 2003

April 28, 2003

Dr. John Churchill, secretary of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, is scheduled to give the commencement address during Maryville College’s 184th commencement exercises set for 6 p.m., May 18 on the campus grounds.

“ The Liberal Arts in a World in Conflict” is the title of Churchill’s address to the approximately 240 graduates of the Class of 2003, which is expected to go down in the history books as one of the largest graduating classes since the College’s founding in 1819.

As secretary of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, Churchill is responsible to the Society’s Senate for administration of the organization’s programs and activities. Founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary, Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest academic honor society, and today considered the nation’s leading advocate for the liberal arts and sciences at the undergraduate level.

The organization publishes “The American Scholar,” a quarterly journal of literary and cultural affairs, as well as “The Key Reporter,” a quarterly newsletter, and sponsors a variety of awards and fellowships that recognize and support scholarly excellence and service.

Churchill graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Rhodes College (then Southwestern at Memphis), where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1971. He earned two master’s degrees and a doctorate from Yale University, followed by another master’s degree from Oxford University in England.

Prior to his appointment at Phi Beta Kappa, he was a professor and administrator at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark. From 1984 until 2001, Churchill served as the school’s vice president for academic affairs and dean. In that period of time, he chaired the committee that led to the establishment of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Hendrix.

A recognized expert in the histories of philosophy, religion and Christianity, as well as philosophers Wittgenstein and Hume, Churchill has had numerous scholarly works published.

Kimball awarded honorary degree

During the College’s commencement exercises, Richard Kimball, director and retired president of the Teagle Foundation, will be awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree.

Based in New York, N.Y., the Teagle Foundation, Inc. was established in 1944 by longtime president and later chairman of the board of Standard Oil Company Walter C. Teagle. The foundation’s major emphasis is strengthening higher education, with a principal emphasis on small liberal arts colleges.

Since the early 1990s, the Teagle Foundation has invested more than $600,000 in Maryville College, funding such important initiatives as institutional research, strategic planning, church relations and the automation of the College’s library catalog.

Baccalaureate held at 2 p.m.

Brother Jimmy Wayne Gray, pastor of Farmington Baptist Church in Lewisburg, Tenn., will be the baccalaureate speaker for Maryville College’s graduation weekend. Gray, the father of graduating senior Lois Gray, will address students in a sermon entitled “Seek Joy.”

Baccalaureate services begin at 2 p.m., May 18 in the College’s Wilson Chapel and are open to the public.


Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2014 semester is 1,213.