Duquesne University has named nationally recognized scholar Dr. Kenneth L. Parker as its new Ryan Endowed Chair for Newman Studies effective July 1, 2017.
In addition to serving as the interim executive director of the National Institute for Newman Studies (NINS) in Pittsburgh, Parker is currently the Clarence Louis and Helen Irene Steber Professor of Theological Studies at Saint Louis University.
“The Ryan Endowed Chair for Newman Studies offers an extraordinary opportunity to promote the life, work and influence of John Henry Newman and continue research I have pursued for almost 30 years,” said Parker. “The invitation to join Duquesne University in this role is a great honor, and I am delighted to become part of this community of learning, research and service.”
As the Ryan Chair, Parker will report to the dean of the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts, where he will also hold a faculty appointment as professor of theology. Besides continuing to foster the affiliation between Duquesne University and the NINS, Parker will teach courses, advise graduate students and pursue academic research aligned in his various areas of scholarly interest.
An expert on Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, Parker has done much work editing volumes, publishing articles and book chapters, and developing scholarly tools to advance the field of Newman studies. He also created a chronological bibliography of Newman’s use of the Oriel College Senior Library, which will be published in a series of bibliographical essays in the Newman Studies Journal in 2017-2018. Parker has directed five dissertations on Newman and Newman-related topics.
Parker’s work has been published in The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, the Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses, Church History, The Oxford Handbook of the Oxford Movement and Receptions of John Henry Newman, among many others.
During the last 10 years, Parker founded and was the inaugural director of the Saint Louis University Prison Program, which offers an associate arts degree to both incarcerated men and prison staff members. This unique “college-in-prison” model recognizes that prisons contain two populations underserved by higher education. In 2011, the Jesuit Honor Society, Alpha Sigma Nu, made Parker an honorary member in recognition of his work with this project. The Saint Louis University Student Government honored Parker in 2012 with the George C. Wendell Civic Engagement Award.
Awarded the Innovative Teaching Fellowship from the Reinert Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning from 2014 through 2016, Parker also garnered the Donald G. Brennan Award for Excellence in Graduate Mentoring in 2013. In 2008, he received the Helen Mandeville Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching through student nominations and a peer-review process.
Outside of the classroom, Parker served as an RCIA director at a local parish in Saint Louis for more than 15 years, and he promoted work for the underserved and the homeless as a trustee of the Incarnate Word Foundation fox six years.
Parker earned a Ph.D. in Divinity at the University of Cambridge and did his post-doctoral studies in 19th century Roman Catholic theology and church history at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. He has a master’s in theology from the Fuller Theological Seminary and a bachelor’s degree in history from Houghton College.
“The affiliation of the National Institute for Newman Studies with Duquesne University gives the Ryan Chair added significance,” Parker added. “I look forward to participating in this joint initiative to promote Newman Studies.”
The Ryan Endowed Chair for Newman Studies was established at Duquesne University in 2010 through a $2.5 million gift from alumna Catharine M. Ryan and her husband John T. Ryan III. Catharine Ryan, who earned her master’s degree in theology at Duquesne in 1993, co-founded The National Institute for Newman Studies. Since its inception in 2002, the NINS has developed the most extensive Newman library in North America.