Magazine On-line [summer 2011]
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Around campus

Portrait of beloved professor given to university

Ben Lewis ’43, the late professor of philosophy and religion, loved Transylvania and was very proud of teaching there for 29 years. So his wife, Glenva Starcher Lewis, decided to honor his memory by giving Transylvania an oil portrait of Ben to hang in the university library. The portrait depicts Lewis in his black and crimson academic regalia and was formally installed in May.

Ben lewis portrait with professors
The portrait of Ben Lewis hangs in the library. Pictured from left, president emeritus Charles L. Shearer, friend John Campbell, religion professor emeritus Phillip Points, Glenva Starcher Lewis, psychology professor Mike Nichols, and history professor emeritus Joseph Binford.

Lewis was a popular professor, and hanging the portrait seems a fitting tribute to a man who gave so many years to the university. He retired in 1983 and was honored with Transylvania’s Morrison Medallion in 1985.

“He was clearly one of the most talented teachers I ever had, and I think he caused thousands of students to think in new ways, to be more reflective, and to enjoy the exciting history of ideas so central to the liberal arts curriculum,” psychology professor Mike Nichols ’68, a former student of Lewis’s, said. “I still feel the influence today of classes I took with him.”

Lewis graduated from Transylvania with a degree in philosophy and religion. He earned a bachelor of divinity degree from the College of the Bible, now Lexington Theological Seminary, in 1946, a master’s degree in theological sciences from Harvard University in 1950, and a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Cincinnati in 1961.

In addition to his Transylvania work, Lewis was a pastor in West Virginia and Kentucky. He was minister of New Union Christian Church in Woodford County, Ky., for 28 years until his death.

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