Jay Richards ’89
Photography by Lance Holt
Jay Richards ’89 has devoted his career to his beliefs and to the pursuit of truth. As a result, his professional accomplishments speak volumes. He is currently a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute, where he directs the Center on Wealth, Poverty and Morality. He is also an author, producer of documentaries, and frequent speaker on the topics of science and faith.
The book Jay co-authored with James Robison — Indivisible: Restoring Faith, Family, and Freedom Before It’s Too Late” — has become a best-seller. And, for his book, “Money, God and Greed,” he received the prestigious Templeton Enterprise Award from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, whose mission involves the pursuit of justice and the common good.
Others believe that Jay embodies many of Southwestern’s core values. When he was nominated for this award, it was written that he does what he does and he does it so effectively in part because of his profound belief in the innate worth and dignity of persons. His prolific writings promote lifelong learning as well as intellectual and personal growth. In addition, he fosters and challenges diverse perspectives through his many articles, documentaries, lectures and debates.
Jay understands that ideas matter and he has dedicated his professional career to respectfully engaging people on the issues in the public square. To those he knows well, he has been a blessing, personally, professionally and intellectually.
A lifelong friend and current colleague remembers that Jay once had a “Question Authority” bumper sticker on his Trans-Am, and remarks that he has been questioning the academic establishment ever since.
He also says that Jay is a loyal friend with a wry sense of humor and capable of silliness when appropriate. On the other hand, he says Jay is serious when it comes to achieving his goals. He remembers playing a game together and Jay telling him to “Try, try, try!” In a nutshell, Jay’s approach throughout his life has been to always give it his all. He has devoted his career to his beliefs and to the pursuit of truth.
The founder of the Discovery Institute observes that Jay’s mind and thoughts range with apparent ease from theology to philosophy to science to economics to culture, all while synthesizing diverse lines of inquiry and discovery. This is not a surprise to those who know him. After receiving his bachelor of arts degree in political science and religion at Southwestern, Jay went on to earn Masters of Divinity and Theology Degrees from Union Theological Seminary and Calvin Theological Seminary, respectively; as well as a Ph.D. (with honors) in philosophy and theology from Princeton Theological Seminary.
Jay has been described as insightful, analytical, brilliant, honest, fearless and talented — a true renaissance man. He has also inspired colleagues and friends with his deep convictions, remarkable insight and reliable research. They say Jay is unwavering in his convictions, yet gracious in the presentation and defense of those beliefs.
Jay’s colleagues say that his message is one of hope conditioned by reality, and that he has the ability to make the simple profound and the complex simple. One of his co-authors, who shares similar views on science and theology, says Jay helped him become a clearer thinker and a better public speaker. He believes that Jay is one of the rare individuals who has the gifts of both discernment and communication.
In reviewing Jay’s extensive body of work, it seems that virtually everything he does contributes to the well being of humanity. Colleagues and friends alike say that the essence of his character is in evidence on a daily basis through his strong work ethic, his ability to remember that it’s easy to fool oneself, and his commitment to God and family.
The following comments from friends sum up the reason Jay received this award. One shares that when he thinks of their friendship, he thinks of the Proverb, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Others say, “Jay Richards is a treasure!” and “It’s too bad there aren’t more Jay Richards in the world!”
For Jay’s impressive professional accomplishments as a writer, speaker, documentarian and scholar; for his message of hope for humanity; and for his dedication to faith, family and friends, The Association of Southwestern University Alumni presented him with the 2012 Distinguished Professional Award.