Robert Neville: A Personal History


October 23, 2020

By Robert Neville, rneville@bu.edu, Milton, Massachusetts

Dear Colleagues,

I have been retired now since May 2018, when I was 79 (I'm now 81).

From 1987 until my retirement I taught at Boston University in the Philosophy, Religion, and Theology Departments and was chair of Religion and director of the Division of Religious and Theological Studies beginning in 1987. From 1988 to 2003, I was dean of the School of Theology under John Silber and Jon Westling and defended (against them) the liberal approach to theological education. For instance, I defended the open and affirming position on gay and transgender people. In 2003, I transferred to Marsh Chapel, where I was dean for four years, preaching "up" rather than preaching "down." From 2006 to 2009, I was executive director of the Danielsen Institute, which was a psychological organization with a Ph.D. program, a psychoanalytic clinic and a research program.

During my career, always on special appointment, I published 30 volumes, including four books of sermons and over 300 articles. I have been president of the American Academy of Religion, the Metaphysical Society, the International Society for Chinese Philosophy, the Institute for American Religious and Philosophical Thought, and the Charles S. Peirce Society, as well as co-directed the Society for the Study of Process Philosophies.

During all this time, I have taken secret delight in the 1,000 miles between my bishop in Missouri and me and have persuaded the bishop in New England that I worked for the one is Missouri. But then, about 12 years ago, when both of them were women, they met up in my presence, and I thought my goose was cooked. It turned out that they enjoyed the 1,000 miles and working for the other as much as I did.

I wish all my colleagues in Missouri the best of health and the most prosperous of ministries.

Robert Neville

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