Why I Give . . .
Why I Give . . . Timothy Morris, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, North Central College
While still in graduate school in the mid-1970s, I began teaching “medical ethics” part time at an area community college. Because bioethics was then an emerging field, there was not much available in the way of course material. Around that time, The Hastings Center and its founders, Daniel Callahan and Willard Gaylin, were featured on a television documentary I watched. From that point forward, The Hastings Center and the Hastings Center Report became very valuable to my students and to me. Toward the end of my career, I was invited to the Center as a visiting scholar and was able to discuss with Daniel Callahan the impact of Hastings on my teaching and scholarship.
But that’s not my only connection with The Hastings Center and its mission. My father, who worked in the insurance industry for forty-five years, finished his undergraduate studies in The College at the University of Chicago on the GI Bill in the late 1940s. He was always an avid reader, but his reading list changed while I was in college and graduate school pursuing studies in philosophy. His library grew to include the history of Western philosophy, primarily the ancient Greeks as well as political philosophy. When I started teaching courses in medical ethics, Dad broadened his reading to that area as well. He read many books in the field and subscribed to a number of journals in bioethics and the philosophy of medicine—including the Hastings Center Report. He’d frequently send me articles that he thought might help in my teaching or research.
After my father retired, we attended a Hastings Center “meet and greet” in Chicago in the late 1990s, where we talked with Hastings leaders including Thomas Murray and Strachan Donnelley. Dad sounded more like an academic than an insurance expert. Now retired myself, I remain intrigued and engaged with bioethics. The Hastings Center Report keeps me apprised of new developments, recent books, and special topics in bioethics…and not infrequently reminds me of my father’s commitment to lifelong learning.
Dad’s various connections to The Hastings Center led him to become a donor to the Center and, upon his death, I have continued to donate each year. More recently, I decided to prioritize support for Hastings in my estate planning—making me a proud charter member of The Hastings Center Beneficence Society. My father and I always saw the Hastings Center as a fiercely independent organization committed to ethical reflection and action in all life sciences, not only medicine. I hope my philanthropic support will help secure that mission for many years to come.
Why I Give . . . Nancy Press, PhD, CEO, Child Aid:
Why DID I choose to support the Hastings Center?
For some reason I don’t remember, I brought along a copy of Once a Catholic on my wedding trip in France. Since I had just finished my doctorate and was deep in my job search, it seems an odd choice now. Perhaps I was trying to better understand my Catholic ex-seminarian husband in the best way an anthropologist like me could think of to do it. But what I remember most clearly was the chapter by Dan and Sidney Callahan. Something about the tone of conversation and inquiry was so captivating, so much what a semi-disillusioned recent PhD had hoped intellectual discourse would be like, that I decided an incredible career goal—far out of reach—would be to someday be at The Hastings Center.
When some years later, now involved in work adjacent to medical ethics, I was actually invited to be part of a Hastings Center project, the I-need-to-pinch-myself-to-make-sure-this-is-real sensation was intoxicating. But what is perhaps more remarkable is that after four more Hastings Center projects, I have maintained much the same feeling.
Several years ago, I decided to leave academia to become CEO of the non-profit I had co-founded earlier. I felt that I had wrapped up the research and teaching part of my life and was ready for quite a different kind of challenge. But, of course, I continue to ruminate on my academic career—what was worthwhile; what was not; what do I wish I could have done more of. And the clear answer, every time I drift into that conversation with myself, is that the work of which I am most proud, and which I sometimes miss with sharp longing, is my collaboration with The Hastings Center. To sit around a long table, in what, to me, always felt like slightly hallowed space, and to have the freedom to entertain not the next grant; not the next paper; but the important questions that nag at one’s mind and heart with a group of stellar intellects of varying views and disciplines and passions…that is an academic life that exists in few other places. And to follow up those free and open conversations with timely published and publicized work…well, that is academic effectiveness that I have personally seen nowhere else.
The Hastings Center is a special place. The work that is done needs to continue to be done and continue to be broadly known. What an enormous privilege and pleasure to help ensure that continuance by closing the loop that began in a hotel room in France several decades ago.
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