Academic Program at Centre College
W. David Hall joined the Centre faculty in 2002, and in 2005 received the Kirk Award for excellence in teaching. He was named a Centre Scholar in 2007, and held the NEH endowed professorship from 2010 to 2013. He has served as chair of the religion program. Prior to coming to Centre College, he taught for two years as visiting assistant professor of religious studies at DePaul University in Chicago.
Dr. Hall’s primary research interest is 19th- and 20th-century European thought. He is co-editor of and contributor to a recent volume of essays entitled Paul Ricoeur and Contemporary Moral Thought (Routledge, 2002), and is the author of Paul Ricoeur and the Poetic Imperative: The Creative Tension Between Love and Justice (SUNY, 2007). His approach is broadly interdisciplinary, addressing currents within philosophy, literary theory, and the social sciences, and their impact on contemporary theology and ethics. His current interests concern questions of political agency within the context of modern notions of state sovereignty.
Dr. Hall received a B.A. in rhetoric from California State University in Sacramento. He attended graduate school at the University of Chicago, where he received an M.Div. and a Ph.D.
File last updated: 6/26/17
Watch a photo essay highlighting Dr. Hall’s Basketball as Religion class.
Lee Jefferson is an associate professor of religion, and was named a Centre Scholar in 2014.
Prior to coming to Centre in 2008, Jefferson taught courses at Memphis Theological Seminary and at Vanderbilt University, both in various areas of the Christian tradition. His primary area of interest is the development of the Christian tradition and art and imagery of Late Antiquity.
He graduated cum laude from Sewanee-University of the South and earned his M.Div. from Southern Methodist University (magna cum laude). He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in religion from Vanderbilt University. He has published articles on aspects of early Christianity in Religion and the Arts, Studia Patristica, Religion Compass, the Sewanee Theological Review, and SBL Bible Odyssey. His book reviews have appeared in Review of Biblical Literature, Religious Studies Review, Church History, and the Journal of Roman Studies. He is a contributor to the Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception (DeGruyter), and contributes to the Huffington Post, and most recently to Marginalia: Los Angeles Review of Books (see his article here).
Jefferson has developed a study abroad course on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. In addition to traveling to sites of holy pilgrimage, he is researching the rise of reliquary devotion associated with pilgrimage routes in early and medieval Christianity.
His book, Christ the Miracle Worker in Early Christian Art (Fortress Press, 2014) concerns the early images of the miracles of Jesus. His second book, a collection of essays including a chapter he authored, co-edited with Robin M. Jensen, entitled The Art of Empire: Christian Art in Its Imperial Context, was published in October 2015. He contributes to the Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity and the The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Gender Studies. He also has a forthcoming chapter in the Routledge Handbook of Early Christian Art. (read about it here).
He won the Kirk Award for Teaching Excellence in 2011. He is also a Shohet Scholar, having won the Shohet Scholars Award from the International Catacomb Society in 2013. Prof. Jefferson is utilizing the grant along with Prof. Tom McCollough to explore the material evidence of the caves of Khirbet Qana in Israel.
File last updated: 9/7/2016
Byron McCane joined the Centre College faculty in 2019 as professor of religion.
Before coming to Centre, he taught at Duke, W&L, and Wofford. His research explores the archaeology of religion, and he has excavated in Israel, Jordan, and Rome. Currently he co-directs the excavation at Horvat Kur in northern Israel.
McCane holds a B.A. in economics from the University of Illinois, and a Th.M. and Ph.D. in the academic study of religion from Duke University.
Eric Mount is professor emeritus of religion at Centre College, where he began teaching in 1966. In 1996 he became the holder of Centre’s first endowed professorship in religion—the Nelson D. and Mary McDowell Rodes Professorship. He retired from the active faculty in June 2002.
Mount taught courses on topics such as ethics and health care, business ethics, religion and contemporary literature, and contemporary theology. He also served as dean of students, college chaplain, and vice president of the college at various times during his career at Centre. Twice he and his wife Truly, who taught French part-time for 20 years at Centre, directed the College’s program in Strasbourg, France.
A scholar in the field of ethics, Mount is the author of four books: Conscience and Responsibility (John Knox Press 1964 – paperback 1971), The Feminine Factor (John Knox Press 1973), and Professional Ethics in Context: Institutions, Images, and Empathy (Westminster/John Knox 1990), Covenant, Community, and the Common Good (Pilgrim, 1999).
A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Mount was the secretary of the petitioning group that was awarded Centre’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in 1971.
Along with his teaching, Mount organized a community ethics discussion group that was held once a month for members of the Danville and Centre communities. He is an ordained Presbyterian minister and has been active for more than 20 years in the the local church, in the Presbytery of Transylvania, and at the General Assembly level. He has also been active in civil rights and race relations in Central Kentucky and received the 1985 John E. Haycraft Award from the NAACP for outstanding contributions to civil rights. Past chair of the Boyle County Human Rights Commission, United Way, and other civic organizations, he currently serves on the Institutional Review Board of Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center, two Centre review boards, the Heritage Hospice Ethics Committee, and the Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency Board, among others.
Mount holds a bachelor of arts degree with distinction from Southwestern at Memphis (now Rhodes College), a bachelor of divinity degree with honors from Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, a master’s degree in sacred theology from Yale Divinity School, and a Ph.D. from Duke University.
File last updated: 5/2/13
Matthew Pierce joined the Centre College faculty in 2011, and was awarded tenure and promotion to associate professor in 2019. Before coming to Centre, he spent extensive time in the Middle East and Central Asia, including living in Egypt, Yemen, and Iran. He was named a Centre Scholar in 2016.
Pierce specializes in medieval Islamic history and thought. His current research focuses on classical Arabic and Persian biographies, analyzing the production of cultural symbols related to gender, authority, and identity. His 2016 book, Twelve Infallible Men: The Imams and the Making of Shi’ism (Harvard), won international recognition when selected for the Iran’s Book of the Year Award. He is presently writing a biography of the eighth century scholar, Ja’far al-Sadiq (under contract with Oneworld Publications). Pierce has also contributed to The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought (2012) as well as an edited volume on Women, Leadership, and Mosques: Changes in Contemporary Islamic Authority (Brill, 2012). His work has also appeared in the Journal of Shi’a Islamic Studies.
In addition to his regularly-taught course, “Western Religious Traditions,” Pierce teaches a variety of upper-level courses on topics related to Islamic Studies. He serves on the gender studies program and frequently teaches courses abroad during winter terms. In the spring of 2017 he served as co-director of the Centre-in-London program.
Pierce holds a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from Boston University’s Division of Religious and Theological Studies. Prior to that, he earned his bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies from Bryan College and received a Fulbright Fellowship (2002-2003) to research Qur’anic religious education in Sana’a, Yemen. From 2003 to 2006, he participated in an inter-faith dialogue program while studying in Qom, Iran.
To read about his course on “Islam in America,” click here.
To read about his course on “Rock, Rap, and Religion,” click here.
File last updated: 7/15/19
Shana Sippy joined the Centre College faculty in 2017. She is assistant professor of religion.
Sippy earned a masters of theological studies from Harvard Divinity School, and a Ph.D. in religious studies from Columbia University.