Faculty Feature: Dr. Bill Davis
Faculty Feature is a series in the Blue Tribune that recognizes the excellent professors and staff of Covenant College through a series of questions.
This week we're highlighting Dr. Bill Davis, Professor of Philosophy.
What brought you to Covenant? How long have you been teaching?
I came to Covenant in 1997, accepting the position as a significant upgrade from teaching at an "historically Methodist" liberal arts college in the Midwest. I've been teaching Philosophy at the undergraduate level for over 30 years.
What is your history with Covenant?
I completed my BA in Philosophy at Covenant in 1982, having studies under Jim Hurley, Gordon Clark, Chuck Anderson, and many others who shaped me in many positive ways. My wife graduated from Covenant in 1984, and for three semesters I was the emergency replacement Math instructor for Covenant in the mid-1980s. After completing my graduate work in 1992, I taught at other schools until being hired by Covenant in 1997.
What do you love about teaching at Covenant?
Everything. (That sounds trite and unserious; but it is a sober estimate.) The students are highly intentional about growing both academically and spiritually. I take steps to make Christ central in all my teaching; and it is made MUCH easier by students who eagerly ask for it and by fellow professors who are showing their students (and me through them) ways to do it faithfully and at the same engaging the subject matter at a high level by any standard.
The other professors are my friends. The Philosophy Department is a (small) haven of extensive agreement about what we are trying to accomplish in our students' lives; and when we disagree about philosophical matters, we are both eager to search the Scriptures and submit to it (and not just to winning an argument). The administration enthusiastically supports what I am trying to do in my teaching and scholarship. The only thing I would like is for every day to have more hours in it so that I can give students all the feedback they need.
What's your history with the PCA or Reformed Tradition?
My family was in an RPCES church in the early 1970s when I was shown the beauty of the doctrines of grace and covenant theology as they are given in the Bible. So I have thought about my relationship with Christ and his church in a reformed way all my life. I was worshipping in an RPCES church when the denomination was "joined and received" by the PCA, and thus became PCA without lifting a finger. My seminary training was at Westminster Seminary/California, a school that is self-consciously (and maybe rabidly and deeply) in the Reformed tradition. While a grad student at the University of Notre Dame, I was a member of a Christian Reformed Church; and after Notre Dame I taught for a year at Calvin College (as it was then). In the mid-90s I was a member of a PCA church in Boardman, Ohio. Since 1998, I have been a member of Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church (PCA) and now serve as a Ruling Elder there.
What's your favorite Covenant tradition?
Convocation: for the raucous enthusiasm about our academic life together and the litany of commitment.
What is a current research project or area of interest you're excited about?
I am working on a book on the Ten Commandments as God's Gift to his beloved children, as well as a book on "Honor Your Father and Mother," which is an expanded account of the fifth commandment. These projects contribute to my on-going work as a volunteer ethics consultant for a local Catholic Hospital.
What's one of your favorite cultural or family traditions?
My family (and Scottish Presbyterians as my tribe) loves enjoying a day of rest from our daily toil, using the Lord's Day to anticipate heaven in worship and unhurried time together.
Anything else prospective students should know about you?
All four of my children graduated from Covenant, and they all have jobs and live in places of their own. Most importantly, they are all walking with Lord and active in a local church.
Tell us a little about your family:
My wife of 38+ years teaches toddlers in a Mothers Day Out program. She invests all kinds of time into finding age-appropriate crafts and activities to encourage their development. My children are STEM people (physics, computers, data analysis, accounting) who also love English literature and YouTube.
How do you/your department encourage each student to pursue academic excellence?
We (the department) encourage students to recognize their academic talents as gifts given to them by Jesus Christ for the purpose of advancing his purposes in the world. Jesus wants us using all our powers to glorify God in and by serving others. Zealous development of their academic abilities is what Jesus wants them doing. For those with modest abilities, the accomplishments may look moderate to onlookers; but we are as pleased by modest accomplishments when it is the result of faithful effort as we are by outstanding accomplishments for students with outstanding gifts.