Described as energetic, vivacious and never boring, religion professor Bruce Lawrence gave his last lecture after teaching for nearly 40 years at Duke Thursday in York Chapel before an audience of students and colleagues past and present.
In a lecture titled "Before, During and Beyond Duke," Lawrence described his life as "privileged," tracing the path he took through young adulthood that led him to a faculty position at Duke in the early 1970s.
He talked about meeting his spouse, miriam cooke, at Duke in the early 1980s, reviewed four books he authored and read poetry reflections on "embodied religion."
Islamic studies professor Ebrahim Moosa, who organized the event, said Lawrence radiates something that makes those who know him feel like a part of his family, embracing different cultures, faiths, orientations and walks of life.
"He is intellectually vibrant, spiritually generous and an intensely loyal friend," Moosa said.
Moosa also cited Lawrence's authorship of seven books and pioneering scholarship in comparative religion and the study of Islamic societies globally. He noted that during his time at Duke, Lawrence has chaired the Department of Religion, directed the Center for South Asian Studies, served as the inaugural director of the Duke Islamic Studies Center and was recently named a Carnegie scholar.
Lawrence says he hopes to remain active in the Duke and academic communities more broadly after his formal retirement in 2011.
Richard Jaffe, chair of the religion department, added, "Bruce, like a force of nature, is somewhat unstoppable."