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President Shinn receives honorary degree from Centre College

Jan. 20: Berea College president Larry D. Shinn was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Centre College during Founder’s Day ceremonies at Centre. Shinn also delivered the keynote address at the event.

Berea College President Larry D. Shinn

The award acknowledged Shinn's work toward environmental sustainability both in Berea College and in Kentucky.

In an announcement of the award, Centre noted that “due in part to Shinn's active role in the Energizing Kentucky initiative, as well as the strides he has made towards sustainability at Berea, positive examples and options for improving the Commonwealth's environment have been enhanced.”

Recently, Shinn was one of four Kentucky college and university presidents who organized Energizing Kentucky, an ongoing initiative that included a trio of conferences held in 2008 and 2009. The purpose was to bring together Kentucky's key constituencies to improve the state's energy and economic situations.

By bringing together those who produce and consume large quantities of energy (industry and business), those who set policy (government officials) and those who educate the state's future citizens (K-16 education institutions), Energizing Kentucky allowed the state's leaders to discuss crucial issues from a variety of viewpoints.

Personally dedicated to environmental sustainability for several decades, Shinn’s leadership in this area during his tenure at Berea is evident in the creation of Berea's Sustainability and Environmental Studies (SENS) program, the establishment of the Ecovillage residential and learning complex, and a comprehensive program of ecological building renovations on campus.

In recognition of his efforts, Shinn also received the Earth Day Award from the Kentucky Environmental Quality Commission in 2003.

Dr. Shinn, a religion scholar and author and editor of six books on world religions, has served as president of Berea College since 1994. He also is an ordained minister of the United Methodist Church. Prior to becoming Berea’s president, Shinn was vice president for Academic Affairs and professor of religion at Bucknell University, where he also served for 10 years as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. His career in higher education also includes teaching for 14 years at Oberlin College, where he was William H. Danforth Professor of Religion.

Dr. Shinn received his bachelor's degree in religion in 1964 from Baldwin Wallace College, where he was graduated magna cum laude. He earned his bachelor of divinity degree from Drew Theological School in 1968, graduating summa cum laude. He received his doctorate in the History of Religions from Princeton in 1972.

He is the author of "Two Sacred Worlds: Experience and Structure in the World's Religions," published in 1977, and "Dark Lord: Cult Images and the Hare Krishnas in America" (1987). He's the co-author of "Lustful Maidens and Ascetic Kings" (1981), associate editor for the major reference work, The Abingdon Dictionary of Living Religions (1981), editor of "In Search of the Divine: Some Unexpected Consequences of Interfaith Dialogue" (1987), and co-editor of "Krishna Consciousness in the West" (1989).

He has received academic awards and grants from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Institute for the Advanced Study of Religion at the University of Chicago, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Princeton University, and other institutions and foundations. In 2003, he was awarded an honorary degree from Drew University.

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