Wilfred M. McClay Presents Barnett Civic Leadership Lecture

Address titled ‘The Blessings and Burdens of Our History’

SILOAM SPRINGS, Arkansas (April 28, 2021) – John Brown University will host Wilfred M. McClay, Ph.D, as the 2021 speaker for the Barnett Civic Leadership Series. McClay, who holds the Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty at the University of Oklahoma and serves as the director of the Center for the History of Liberty, will present a lecture titled “The Blessings and Burdens of Our History" on Tuesday, May 4, at 7 p.m. in Simmons Great Hall B.

The event is being presented by the Center for Faith and Flourishing and the Ray & Laurine Barnett Civic Leadership Speaker Fund. It will be in person for JBU students, faculty and staff, and may also be viewed free via livestream here.

"What a privilege to host the 2021 speaker for the Barnett Civic Leadership Series," said Dr. James Bruce, JBU professor of philosophy and director of the Center for Faith and Flourishing. "I have great respect for Bill McClay and his scholarship, and I am looking forward to this lecture.”

McClay will join the history department at Hillsdale College this coming academic year. He served on the National Council on the Humanities, the advisory board for the National Endowment for the Humanities, for 11 years, and he is a member of the U.S. Commission on the Semiquincentennial, which has been charged with planning the celebration of the nation’s 250th birthday in 2026. 

His book "The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America" received the 1995 Merle Curti Award of the Organization of American Historians for the best book in American intellectual history. Among his other books are "The Student’s Guide to U.S. History," "Religion Returns to the Public Square: Faith and Policy in America," "Figures in the Carpet: Finding the Human Person in the American Past," "Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity, and Public Life in Modern America," and "A Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story." 

The Ray and Laurine Barnett Civic Leadership Series, established in 2016, is funded by an endowment created with gifts from the Barnett family and donations from more than 20 organizations and individuals. The series, which brings a speaker to JBU each academic year, focuses on Christian leadership and addresses the intersection of faith and public service. Past speakers include Chief Judge Lavenski Smith, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit;  Alveda C. King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the director of Civil Rights for the Unborn, the African American Outreach for Priests for Life and the African American Outreach for Gospel of Life Ministries; Shapri LoMaglio, vice president for government relations and executive programs at the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities; former Gov. Mike Huckabee and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

The Center for Faith and Flourishing, established in 2019 with commitments of more than half a million dollars, provides programming, curriculum, partnerships and activities dedicated to exploring the relationship between Christianity and human flourishing. In addition to hosting lectures and debates to foster open discussion about challenging topics, the center assists the university’s required Gateway Seminar for first-year students and supports the Honors Scholars Program’s philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) courses and minor, as a way to promote a multifaceted approach to problems in our increasingly interdependent world.

John Brown University is a leading private Christian university, training students to honor God and serve others since 1919. Arkansas’ top-ranked regional university (U.S. News Best Colleges, 2021), JBU enrolls more than 2,200 students from 37 states and 48 countries in its traditional undergraduate, graduate, online and concurrent education programs. JBU offers more than 40 undergraduate majors, with top programs including nursing, psychology, kinesiology, engineering, biology, family and human services, and graphic design. Eighteen graduate programs are available in business, counseling, cybersecurity, education and higher education.


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