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Endowment established for Carol Grizzard Browning Lecture Series

October 22, 2015 12:00 AM
Pikeville, Ky.
“Maybe the things that we think matter most about us, like our jobs or our bank accounts or our talents or our preaching, will turn out not to matter next to something we think of as purely personal.” – Carol Grizzard Browning

University of Pikeville professor emeritus of religion Carol Grizzard Browning, Ph.D., contemplated the subject of legacies in a sermon she wrote and delivered on the Book of Ruth. Although Carol ultimately decided, “We don’t know what our legacies may be,” her husband, UPIKE professor of religion James Browning, Ph.D., has no trouble identifying Carol’s legacy.

“Unknowingly, she created her own legacy by her impact on students,” James says. “We want to create another legacy for her by attracting top quality scholars to the Carol Grizzard Browning Lecture Series.”

In its fourth year of existence, the Carol Grizzard Browning Lecture Series strives to enrich the academic and religious experience of students. Particular emphasis is placed on scholars whose research provides new insights and approaches to understanding the Bible and the world’s religions. Past lecture series included such presenters as internationally-known theologian Matthew Fox; Mennonite Biblical scholar Ted Grimsrud; and Old Testament expert Wilma Bailey.

In order to ensure the continued participation of top quality speakers in the lecture series, UPIKE seeks to endow the series.

“In addition to being top quality, the scholars must have a contemporary focus,” James says. “That was Carol. She was an excellent communicator who found the way to make her wisdom applicable to today.”

Carol also served as an advisor to UPIKE’s academic team and published scholarly articles including “Kingship in Israel” with Marvin Tate in the Mercer Dictionary of the Bible, the study notes on I and II Samuel in The New Interpreter’s Study Bible, and “Life, the Universe and Everything: Medieval Spanish Judaism Dealing with Aristotle and Sacred Texts” in Cuaderno Internacional de Estudios Humanístticos y Literatura.

Illness forced Carol, who taught at UPIKE for 23 years, to retire in 2011. James says it was important for him to provide closure for her and to illuminate her academic and scholarly legacies. During a recent sabbatical, he reviewed her writings and assembled them into a blog. The blog, which can be accessed at, contains many of Carol’s classroom lectures as well as sermons she delivered at area churches.

“Carol retired at the height of her academic career, and probably missed a decade or more of teaching. Maybe the blog and the lecture series will even things out,” James says.

“The work James has done during his sabbatical brings Carol’s career to fruition,” says UPIKE professor of religion and alumna Sumer Bingham (’11), a former student of Carol’s. “Carol is the brightest person I have ever met, and she has a remarkably sharp wit. I admired the way she approached her lectures. She was always funny. I feel bad for the students here now because they didn’t have her in class.”

“As genuine a person and a teacher as I have ever met, Carol has always shared something special with her students: herself,” says Jessica Varney (’07). “It was clear each time she lectured that she taught from her heart. Her passion for the subject and for the student was unquestionable. Inside and outside of the classroom, Dr. Grizzard sincerely expressed interest in her students, and I personally benefitted from her caring spirit and words of wisdom and encouragement.”

Varney, the director of Christian education at Pickens Presbyterian Church in Pickens, S.C., continues, “Frederick Buechner wrote, ‘The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.’ Dr. Grizzard’s passion for religious studies has intersected many students’ hunger for knowledge. It is truly fitting that she is honored by the Carol Grizzard Browning Lecture Series.”

The next lecture series will held Monday, Nov. 9, and Tuesday, Nov. 10, with Robina Courtin at 7 p.m., in Chrisman Auditorium, Armington Learning Center.

Alumni and friends of UPIKE are welcome to contribute to the Carol Grizzard Browning Lecture Series endowment. For more information, call (606) 218-5276.

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