Jeffrey H. Barker

Past President

Dr. Jeffrey H. Barker was appointed as Converse University President during the 2021-2022 academic year. He was Converse’s 11th President. President Barker passed away on July 21, 2021.

As Provost, Dr. Barker taught Philosophy courses at Converse, specializing in biomedical ethics and law, where his students explored a variety of ethical issues on the frontier of biomedicine as well as contemporary legal issues. His recent scholarly work includes essays on biomedical research and public health policy.

In the winter of 2000, he served as visiting professor of philosophy at the University of Iceland in Reykjavík, where he taught an upper-level seminar in health and human rights and presented a university lecture on genetic therapy research and xenotransplantation. He was a research fellow at the Yale Law School in 1989 and at the Stanford Law School in 1992.

In addition to his 1986 book, Individualism and Community: The State in Marx and Early Anarchism, Dr. Barker has published works in several philosophy journals, medical journals, and law reviews, including The Review of Law and Social Policy and Medicine, Healthcare, and Philosophy. He contributed lead articles to The Oxford Companion to the Body, focused on his research interests in bioethics, ethics and the human face, and to the second edition of the Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics. In 2021, he and Converse Professor Emerita Melissa Walker published the book, Kansas Boy: The Memoir of A.J. Bolinger, a contribution to the history of the American West.

Dr. Barker was Vice-Chair of the Biomedical Institutional Review Board for the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, and was a consultant member of the South Carolina Medical Association Bioethics Committee.

Dr. Barker graduated with honors from California State University where he majored in history and philosophy. He earned his Master’s degree and PhD in philosophy from Purdue University.

More about President Barker

Barker’s selected publications include:


Kansas Boy: The Memoir of A.J. Bolinger, edited, with Melissa Walker (Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press), March 2021

Individualism and Community: The State in Marx and Early Anarchism (Westport, CT.: Greenwood Press, 1986)

Book Chapters, Essays and Reviews:

“Imagine What It’s Like: Humanities and End-of-Life Decisions in the Clinical Setting,” Journal of the South Carolina Medical Society 108:2 (April 2012), pp. 46-47

“Views of Human Nature and Applied Ethics,” forthcoming in Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics second edition (Elsevier, projected 2011)

“A Few Thoughts for the New Chief Academic Officer,” Academic Leader 25: 12 (December 2009), 1-5

“This is Water: The Ethics of Memory,” an invited review essay of Avishai Margalit’s The Ethics of Memory (Harvard University Press, 2002), published online at H-GENOCIDE, December 2006.

“Common-Pool Resources and Population Genomics in Iceland, Estonia, and Tonga,” in Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 6:133-144 (2003); reprinted online through SpringerLink.

“Cod, Vikings, and Population Genomics in Iceland: Comment on Gísli Pálsson and Kristín E. Harðardóttir, ‘For Whom the Cell Tolls,’” Current Anthropology 43: 2 (April 2002), 287.

“The Face” (lead essay), “Chin,” “Epicanthic Fold,” “Dimples,” and “Freckles,” in Blakemore and Jennett, eds, Oxford University Press Companion to the Body, (Oxford University Press, October 2001)

“Human Experimentation and the Double Facelessness of a Merciless Epoch,” Review of Law & Social Change XXV: 4 (1999; published 2001), 603-623

“Respect for Persons, Informed Consent, and the Assessment of Infectious Disease Risks in Xenotransplantation,”(with Lauren Polcrack), Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 4: 53-70, 2001

“Facing Biomedicine: Levinas, Løgstrup, and An Ethics of the Interhuman,” in Apollon, Fure, and Svåsand, eds, Approaching a New Millenium: Lessons from the Past—Prospects for the Future, Proceedings of ISSEI 2000, Winter 2001 (University of Bergen, on CD-ROM)

“The Holocaust and Moral Dissonance in Postmodern Discourse,” The European Legacy, Fall 1998 (on CD-ROM)

“Capital Punishment in the New Europe,” The European Legacy 1:2 (April 1996), pp. 812-819

“The Immorality of Credible Nuclear Bluffs,” Public Affairs Quarterly 3:3 (July 1989), pp. 1-14

In addition, President Barker has published more than three dozen book reviews.