CMU Lecture Series

dr.-tao-jiangGil and Ruth Fleer Lecture Series

Speaker: Dr. Tao Jiang, Professor of Religion and Philosophy Rutgers University

Title: Zhuangzi and the Tragedy of Personal Freedom in Chinese History   

Date: March 27, 2024

Location: Inman Lecture Hall (Stedman 200)

Bio: Tao Jiang is Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, with a joint appointment in the Religion Department and the Philosophy Department. He specializes in classical Chinese philosophy and Mahāyāna Buddhist Philosophy. Jiang's 2021 book, Origins of Moral-Political Philosophy in Early China (Oxford University Press), received the 2023 Joseph Levenson Prize honorable mention from the Association for Asian Studies. He is the director of Rutgers Center for Chinese Studies and co-chair of the Neo-Confucian Studies Seminar at Columbia University.

About the lecture series: Former faculty member and sponsor of Alpha Phi Gamma “MOKERS,” Dr. Gilbert “Gil” Fleer '55 and his wife, Ruth Hombs Fleer '58, had a vision to enhance the spirit of excellence at CMU. Their passion for their alma mater where they met, and the love of their son, Jeffrey G. Fleer, led them to make gifts to the University, enhancing the Central experience for students for generations to come.

Fleer was an assistant professor of religion at Central from 1959-65. Before his passing, Dr. Fleer was a social science professor at Western Texas College and a United Methodist counselor. He spent many years counseling young adults in unconventional settings. The couple’s strong support of leadership training led them to fund the Gil and Ruth Fleer Fund for Excellence in Values-Based Education at CMU.

This lecture is funded by the generosity of Gil and Ruth Fleer.

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dr.-michael-behe-23.jpgDr. Thomas A. Perry Faith & Science Lecture Series

Speaker: Dr. Michael Behe, Professor of Biochemistry Lehigh University

Title: Chance or Purpose?: The Argument for Intelligent Design in Biology  

Date: April 24, 2024

Bio: Michael J. Behe was awarded the Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1978 from the University of Pennsylvania for his dissertation research on sickle-cell hemoglobin. He is currently Professor of Biochemistry at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In his career he has authored forty technical papers and three books, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (1996), The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism (2007), and Darwin Devolves: The New Science of DNA That Challenges Evolution (2019), all of which argue that living system at the molecular level are best explained as being the result of deliberate intelligent design. The books have been reviewed by the New York Times, Nature, Philosophy of Science, Christianity Today, and many other periodicals.

About the lecture series: Thanks to a generous gift from the Rev. Garth Leigh, wishing to honor the memory of Dr. Thomas Perry, longtime chair of the CMC English Department, this lecture has been endowed at Central Methodist University. Rev. Leigh sponsored a lecture series as a testament to the impact Perry had on generations of students at Central, encouraging them to think deeply, wrestle with greater questions, and challenge themselves to be the best citizens and scholars. The annual lecture will focus on the role that minister-scientists have played in the development of both religious traditions as well as scientific discoveries.

In addition to spending 20 years as chairman of the Department of English at Central Methodist College, Perry also served as chair of the Division of Literature and Languages and of the honors program. He sponsored Scribblers and Scrawlers, a club for aspiring creative writers, hosting and entertaining them monthly in his home. Perry is the late father of Tad Perry, current member of the board of trustees at CMU. Rev. Leigh served as a United Methodist Pastor for many years, and has worked as a freelance writer since his retirement from ministry in 2000. He currently lives in Kansas City, Mo. with his wife, Cheri.

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