Monday, March 7, 2011

Farewell to a Powerful Christian Model

A fond Christ-centered farewell to a beloved professor of mine from college days took place last Friday, Mar 4, at Second Presbyterian Church in Carlisle, PA. His name was Philip Lockhart, retired professor of classical languages from Dickinson College. A bit of his bio is included below.

Dr. Lockhart was one of my first Christian professorial contacts at Dickinson College in my freshman year there in 1965-66. I did not know he was a Christian at first, but found out about his love for Christ and for the biblical faith very quickly. With another student friend, I even took an introductory course on New Testament Greek with him--which my friend at the funeral reminded me about, since I had forgotten it. Amazing that now I teach an online introductory course to New Testament Greek!

Dr. Lockhart was much more to me than just a professor and adult friend. He helped stabilize my life as a freshman kid who was literally scared of college, and of a secular institution like Dickinson. I thought for sure I was going to be swallowed up by nonChristian, atheistic thought and that I would lose my faith moorings. He assured me that was not going to happen, and that I could relax and I would "grow up" in my college years to become a self-assured, stable Christian man who would be well-trained by the liberal arts. That really happened! My years at Dickinson were great years, and I look back with fond memories of my classes and professors (most of them anyway) and am thankful to God for the training, insights and help I received from them.

I was sitting at the memorial service on Friday praising God for such a positively oriented Christian professor and churchman. Dr Lockhart lived out his faith on a secular campus--and made friends doing it, as the testimonials showed. I would lke to die this way--by being a real light to Christians AND nonChristians by making the Christian faith a positive, enlivening, powerful witness and not a defensive and destructive one.

Philip N. Lockhart, emeritus Asbury J. Clarke Chair of Latin, died on February 20, 2011 at the Forest Park Health Center in Carlisle. Phil is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Ayer Lockhart, son, Dr. Bruce Lockhart, daughter, Betsy Wood, and her husband, Jeff Wood.

Phil, a native of Pennsylvania, earned his B.A. in English with honors, and Phi Beta Kappa distinction, from the University of Pennsylvania in 1950. After his undergraduate work, he received his M.A. in comparative literature from the University of North Carolina in 1951 and went on to receive his Ph.D. in classical languages and archaeology at Yale University in 1959. 

Before joining the faculty at Dickinson in 1963, Phil was a missionary teacher at the Ezel Mission School in Kentucky and also taught at the University of Missouri, the Ohio State University and at the University of Pennsylvania. He was appointed the chair of the department of classical studies in 1965 and was appointed the Asbury J. Clarke Chair of Latin in 1971. After 27 years of teaching at Dickinson, Phil retired in 1990 at which time he was awarded professor emeritus of classical languages and emeritus Asbury J. Clarke Chair of Latin. 

Phil was beloved by students across the years for his expertise, lively and challenging classroom, and his deep interest in his students. Under his tutelage the study of the classics at Dickinson grew and flourished. He established a curriculum founded on Greek and Latin majors and insisted that the study of Biblical Hebrew be included in the curriculum. This earned him quite a reputation in the field, and he was often invited as an outside evaluator and consultant for undergraduate classics programs across the country. 

Phil received many awards and honors during his career including Honorable Mention by the Distinguished Teacher Award Committee of the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church in 1974. He was also the first winner of the Constance and Rose Ganoe Memorial Award for inspirational teaching in 1969, which he promptly used to assist in establishing the John David Wright III Memorial Scholarship in Classical Studies. He went on to receive the Ganoe Award two additional times in 1973 and 1981, making him the only three-time winner of this student-voted prize. 

While at Dickinson, Phil served on various committees and also served as Faculty Secretary in 1966-68. He often assisted in preparing the Latin wording for the honorary degrees that were given at Commencement every year as well as assisted with the planning of the Baccalaureate Ceremony. Phil also established the Philip N. Lockhart Book Prize in Classical Studies that is still awarded to an outstanding graduate majoring in classical studies today. In addition to these and many other commitments at Dickinson, he was president of the Philadelphia Classical Society and the Pennsylvania Classical Association, a member of the American Philological Association, a founding member of the South Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the Archaeological Institute of America, and served on evaluation teams for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Instruction. 

Phil was a member of the Second Presbyterian Church in Carlisle and served several terms as an elder as well as 40 years as a member of its Sanctuary Choir. Additionally, he taught in the community Sunday School teacher training programs and served on the Presbytery Committee on Christian Vocations and Candidate Review.