An endowed chair of philosophy has been established at Converse College in honor of longtime Spartanburg, SC physician Dr. Harold E. Fleming. The position was made possible by a $1.25 million gift from Billy and Lindsay Webster of Spartanburg. Mr. Webster is currently vice chairman of the Converse College Board of Trustees.
“Converse President Betsy Fleming’s focus on investing in the core of the liberal arts tradition is something that my wife, Lindsay, and I feel is important to support, and we chose to do so in a way that honors one of our community’s leading citizens. Dr. Harold Fleming and his family have a long-standing and deep commitment to both Spartanburg and the tradition of the liberal arts education. My wife and I both attended single-gender liberal arts colleges and value the uniqueness these institutions offer in helping students to grow and learn, so it is important to us that Converse College have the resources it needs to offer the best possible education,” Webster said.
The establishment of the endowed chair affirms Converse College’s commitment to providing a thorough and liberal education for women. “My first priority at Converse is to ensure that this institution prepares women for lifelong learning, leadership, and service,” said President Fleming. “The study and application of ethics are central to every academic subject and every profession in our society. As science, technology, and communications advance at an increasingly rapid pace, strong ethical principles must play a critical role in our decisions, individually and as a global community.”
A Spartanburg native, Dr. Fleming is an internal medicine and cardiology specialist with Carolina Medical Associates. He received a BA from Wofford College in 1961, an MD from the Medical University of South Carolina in 1965 and an MBA from The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University in 1997. Fleming’s family has cultivated a tradition of valuing education that has passed from generation to generation. His grandparents were high school teachers who supported all ten of their children in attending college, and his great uncle was a Latin professor at Columbia University in New York. Fleming has continued this tradition by placing a priority on quality education for his four children.
“It is a tremendous honor to have this endowed chair named for a quiet community leader and beloved doctor who also happens to be my father,” said President Fleming. “He has always believed that behaving ethically is the responsibility of every global citizen and that it is most vital on the local level as a daily habit. My father considers education to be the vehicle for developing the knowledge and skills necessary for crafting an ethical life.”
A national search to fill the position is already underway. “Our goal is to hire someone by February or March so that our new philosopher will be in place by the fall 2006 term,” said Dr. Jeffrey Barker, vice president for academic affairs, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and a professor of religion and philosophy at Converse. Barker leads the search committee that includes Emily Arndt, assistant professor and chair of the Religion and Philosophy Department; Dr. Douglas Jensen, assistant professor of biology and chair of the college’s Biology Department; and Dr. Thomas McDaniel, senior vice president at Converse.
“There are specific qualities we are seeking as we fill this position,” said Barker. “The ideal candidate should be someone who specializes in ethics and one or more of its applications to biomedicine, business and the environment; be a generalist w