Patterson named first Baron Professor of Social Justice Education
Sara Patterson, Hanover College professor of theological studies, has been appointed the inaugural Linda ’73 and Mark Baron Professor of Social Justice Education.
The endowed professorship is made possible by a $1 million gift from Linda Pirtle Baron ’73 and her husband, Mark. The appointment includes salary incentives, discretionary spending for research and funding for student social justice-oriented projects.
Patterson, who joined Hanover’s faculty in 2008, is an award-winning professor, scholar and author. She teaches courses in theology, history of Christianity, religion in the Americas, confronting poverty in Indiana and introduction to gender studies. Last spring, she earned the Arthur and Ilene Baynham Outstanding Teaching Award. She received the Stanley Totten Award for outstanding service to the campus community in 2013.
“I am thrilled to receive the Baron Professorship of Social Justice Education,” said Patterson, who will begin a five-year term in January. “The new professorship helps signal a new institutional commitment to social justice that will provide students with the skills and theories necessary to follow their passions.”
In addition to the endowed professorship, the Barons’ financial support greatly expands the reach and impact of initiatives on Hanover’s campus. This is highlighted by the launch of the Templeton Social Justice Leadership Program, which will create student leadership opportunities and foster an active culture of dialogue, engagement and support.
“We are incredibly excited that Dr. Sara Patterson will be leading the Templeton Social Justice Leadership Program,” stated Linda Baron. “She will challenge students to think deeply and critically about social justice issues, challenge preconceived views, and push them as they develop campus projects and participate in demanding internships. Dr. Patterson exemplifies the outstanding Hanover College faculty, dedicated to teaching and preparing students for life after graduation.”
Patterson noted, “The innovative Templeton Social Justice Leadership Program demonstrates a new level of commitment to social justice work at Hanover College. While the commitment has existed on a class-by-class and activity-by-activity level for decades, the new program institutionalizes Hanover’s commitment to social justice by merging the curricular and the co-curricular. Students will be asked to put the theoretical and practical skills of social justice work and activism in conversation with one another. There are numerous staff and faculty members committed to making the program a success and I am proud to be one of them.”
Hanover’s social justice program is named for Benjamin Templeton, a free Black man from Chillicothe, Ohio, who began his Hanover education in 1832 and spent five years at the College. Templeton later led the free Black community in Philadelphia, where he served as pastor of the Second African Presbyterian Church.
The Barons have been actively involved with the former Benjamin Templeton Scholars Program and also served on the Templeton Scholar Advisory Board. In 2018, the couple established the Linda and Mark Baron Endowed Benjamin Templeton Scholars Retreat Fund. The endowed gift supports the Benjamin Templeton Scholars annual retreat, providing lodging, meals, transportation, supplies and honoraria for the excursion, which promotes issues of diversity education, tolerance and social justice.
“It has been a pleasure to get to know Linda [Baron] as we worked together on the Templeton Advisory Council through the past two years,” said Patterson. “The Barons’ commitment to justice work through their service to the College is remarkable. They, along with countless other alumni, have worked to make the campus and the broader community a better place.”