Timmer has taught at Central since 1980, serving as department or division chair for more than 25 years. Timmer completed his bachelor’s degree from Calvin College and his Ph.D. in theology from the University of Notre Dame. He has published works on medieval Jewish-Christian relations, Franciscan missionaries in colonial Mexico, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life and thought, and more.
The endowed position provides additional support for research and helps make larger projects possible, said Timmer. This fall, he is working on a book-length manuscript during his sabbatical. Timmer will also present portions of this work at the Lilly Fellows Program regional conference: Reason and Faith on the Five-Hundredth Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, hosted at Central Oct. 13-14.
It is a privilege, Timmer said, to help enrich Central College by stimulating research along with his fellow endowed chairs. “Each department makes a unique contribution to the college and has an important role to play,” says Timmer. “In philosophy and religion, we think about the big questions. We have a mission, a calling, to think and to learn, to shape our ideas in a way that will make the world better.”
During his 37 years at Central, Timmer has served twice as the college’s visiting program director in Merida, Yucatan. He has been elected to many faculty committees focused on policy, personnel, curriculum and faculty development. At the same time, Timmer has served on the Commission on Theology of the Reformed Church in America and as editor of “Perspectives: A Journal of Reformed Thought.”
Central College President Mark Putnam says Timmer’s professional achievements reveal a longstanding commitment to the study of religion and engagement with the Reformed Church in America. “David’s advocacy for the humanities, academic excellence, global experiential learning, and oral and written communication skills are to be celebrated,” says Putnam. “He brings students, including the large number of non-religion majors he teaches, to an informed appreciation of historical Christianity and to a more sophisticated level of reading and writing.”
Established in 2002, the endowed position honors Jacob and Gela Schnucker Sessler, longtime friends of Central College, for their high standards, principles and expectations for teaching and scholarship. Chad Ray, professor emeritus of philosophy, held the position from 2002 until this year, when he retired.
“It’s an honor for me to participate in this kind of leadership,” said Timmer, “which I think is very important for the future of the college. And to be the successor of Chad Ray, who is one of my oldest and dearest friends, is also an honor.”
Timmer will be officially installed as Dr. Jacob and Gela Schnucker Sessler Chair during the coming academic year.
The Central College faculty includes eight endowed chairs. In addition to Timmer, they are:
- Mark Babcock, M. Joan Kuyper Farver Endowed Chair in Music and associate professor of music
- Mark Johnson, Ruth & Marvin Denekas Endowed Chair in Science and Humanities and professor of mathematics/computer science
- Keith Jones, Mark and Kay De Cook Endowed Chair in Character and Leadership Development and professor of psychology
- Nicole Kaplan, Kenneth J. Weller Distinguished Professorship of the Liberal Arts and associate professor of French
- Graham Lemke, Donald T. Butler Endowed Chair and professor of finance
- Cynthia Mahmood, Frank Moore Endowed Chair in Anthropology and professor of anthropology
- Mary Stark, John and Anna Poole Endowed Chair in the Humanities and professor of English