The T.B. Walker Foundation, an anonymous donor and other friends have committed $1.5 million to create the first endowed chair in the natural and behavioral sciences at the college. The T.B. Walker Chair in the Natural and Behavioral Sciences will honor the work of an outstanding professor in biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering-physics, mathematics or psychology.
Jeff Schloss, distinguished professor of biology, will be the first scientist to hold the new position. Internationally known for his prolific scholarship on interactions between evolutionary theory and religious faith, Schloss has co-edited several major books on this topic: “The Believing Primate: Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Perspectives on the Origin of Religion” (Oxford University Press); “Evolution and Ethics: Human Morality in Biological and Religious Perspective” (Eerdmans), which won a Templeton Science-Religion Book of Distinction Award in 2005; and “Altruism and Altruistic Love: Science, Philosophy, and Religion in Dialogue,” (Oxford University Press). He speaks frequently throughout the country and around the world to both scholarly and popular audiences and serves on more than a dozen editorial and advisory boards related to issues in science and religion.
“A brilliant scientist who is also a committed Christian, Jeff models for our students the rigorous intellectual exploration we encourage them to pursue,” says President Gayle D. Beebe. “Despite his active scholarly career, Jeff is a popular and engaging teacher who makes a point of spending time with students.”
“I am, and I encourage students to be, decidedly ambivalent in refusing to choose between teaching and research, experimental fieldwork and integrative scholarship, and the integrity of science and the viability of biblical faith,” Schloss says.
He joined the biology faculty at Westmont in 1981. A graduate of Wheaton College, he earned a doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology from Washington University.
The T.B. Walker chair includes a reduced teaching load (one less class each year) so the professor can focus on research. It’s the third chair established at Westmont in the past year. Earlier in 2009, the college inaugurated two other endowed positions, the R. Anthony Askew Chair in Art and the Fletcher Jones Foundation Chair in the Social Sciences.