Bornstein named Stella Koetter Darrow Professor in Catholic Studies

A leading historian of religion was installed as the first Stella Koetter Darrow Professor in Catholic Studies in Arts & Sciences March 18 in Holmes Lounge.

Daniel M. Bornstein, Ph.D., and his wife, Jane, examine the medal given to him at his installation as the first Stella Koetter Darrow Professor in Catholic Studies in Arts & Sciences. The ceremony took place March 18 in Holmes Lounge.

Daniel M. Bornstein, Ph.D., joined Washington University last fall with a joint appointment in religious studies and history, both in Arts & Sciences. He is a scholar whose broad focus encompasses the relationship between religion and civic culture, the role of religious life in late medieval and Renaissance Italy, the varieties of religious practices and the role of women in the Catholic Church. With these distinguished credentials, he is a good fit for the vision of the late Stella Darrow.

“Stella Darrow envisioned a program that enhanced and broadened the study of Roman Catholic thought and history,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said. “As one of her final efforts, she created an endowed professorship that will continue what she strove to do throughout her life: to support the educational mission and enhance the life of students at her alma mater. She was extremely generous and a loyal supporter of many facets of the University, and for that we are very grateful,” Wrighton said.

A native St. Louisan and 1931 alumna of Arts & Sciences, Darrow devoted considerable time, effort and resources to the University. She was a founding member of the Women’s Society and the Arts & Sciences Century Club, groups that support a variety of initiatives that would not otherwise be funded. A former librarian, Darrow was dedicated to the advancement of the University Libraries and was a founding member of its national council.

Throughout her long alliance with the University, Darrow made many contributions honoring members of her family. The most notable is an endowed scholarship in the School of Medicine for her father, Albert F. Koetter, who served as chief of the oncology clinic from 1916-1920. In addition, she was among a group of individuals who helped raise funding to support and later strengthen the Newman Center, also known as the Catholic Student Center.

“Daniel Bornstein’s teaching, research and scholarship are deeply respected, and they add a significant dimension to religious studies and history at Washington University,” said Edward S. Macias, Ph.D., executive vice chancellor, dean of Arts & Sciences and the Barbara and David Thomas Distinguished Professor in Arts & Sciences. “I am confident Mrs. Darrow would be delighted with Daniel Bornstein as the inaugural holder of the Stella Koetter Darrow Professorship.”

Bornstein’s ability to question the nature of religious life within the context of the traditional Church is a distinct characteristic of his scholarship and matches one of Darrow’s reasons for giving this professorship. Bornstein has written extensively on his subjects of expertise, composing books, journal articles, chapters, reviews and conference papers. In addition, he has translated several medieval texts. His current research involves editing a volume on Medieval Christianity as part of a seven-volume treatise “A People’s History of Christianity,” which is due out this spring.

He began his career at the University of Michigan and also taught at the University of California, San Diego, before starting a long tenure at Texas A&M University, where he coordinated the Interdisciplinary Program in Religious Studies. Bornstein earned a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College and earned master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Chicago.

His research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society and the National Humanities Center among others. Professional involvement includes the American Society of Church History, the American Catholic Historical Association and the Society for Italian Historical Studies. He sits on the editorial boards of “Rivista di Storia del Cristianesimo” and “Medievalia et Humanistica.”