Huntington, Ind.— From August 25 through September 7, 2003, the US Open Tennis Championships will showcase headliners such as Andre Agassi, Venus and Serena Williams, Jennifer Capriati, and many, many more. With a $1 million pay day at stake for singles champions and a total purse of $17 million, the US Open Tennis Championships continues its leadership in offering the largest purse of any annual sporting event.
And just behind the limelight of the highest annually attended sporting event in the world will be Huntington College professor, Dr. Mark Fairchild.
So how does a Bible and Religion professor from a small, Christian college in Indiana end up on tennis’ grand stage? With years of experience as a player and coach, Dr. Fairchild’s passion for the game led him to the officiating scene, and after a surprise invitation to the grand event, Dr. Fairchild will find himself placed on the sidelines, calling the shots, literally.
“Near the end of May, I was contacted by the USTA (United States Tennis Association) office with news that they selected me to officiate the US Open Tennis Championships,” said Fairchild. “I was floored! The US Open is one of the world’s four Grand Slam Professional Tournaments. Many of the officials at the Grand Slam Tournaments are the top officials in the world and many of them do this as a full time occupation.”
“At any rate, I’m surprised, flattered and humbled,” he continued.
Dr. Fairchild began his tennis career as a teenager and played for Pennsylvania State University from 1972-1976. He has continued to play competitively through his adult years, winning various local and regional single tournaments and mixed-double tournaments with his teenage daughter, Ennea. As Huntington College head tennis coach from 1987-1996, Dr. Fairchild was named Mid-Central Conference Coach of the Year on three occasions, NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) District 21 Coach of the Year on two occasions and United States Professional Tennis Association Midwest Team Coach of the Year twice.
In 1994, Dr. Fairchild began his career in officiating. After he retired from coaching, Bob Maylis, the men’s tennis coach at the University of Notre Dame, talked him into officiating collegiate tennis matches. Since then, he has climbed the ladder of officiating and most recently has been involved in a number of small professional tournaments. His prestigious list of officiating appearances include the Indiana High School State Championships, the World Team Tennis Championships, the USTA Boys and Girls Northeast Zonal Championships, the Junior Davis Cup Competition, the Boys National Championships, the Big Ten Men’s Tennis Championships and the NCAA Men’s National Championships. At a number of these events, he was selected as Head Referee.
Dr. Fairchild’s passion for tennis is second only to his passion for God. “In 1977, a year after graduating from Penn State, I became a Christian,” said Fairchild. “I had a degree in biology from PSU, but my career took a turn when I realized that God was leading me back to college and eventually into teaching.”
It was when he wrote his Ph.D. dissertation at Drew University, that Dr. Fairchild received a letter from Huntington College asking if he would be interested in a Bible and Religion position at the college. “I had never been in Indiana and had never even heard of Huntington College. To make the story short, I applied, interviewed, accepted and have been here ever since.”
Dr. Fairchild is a recognized scholar. Last summer he was invited to the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Research Seminar, “Societal Transformation and the Legitimation of Power in the Early Islamic States” at the University of Chicago with 23 other scholars from across the United States. His research project for the prestigious seminar was on “Jihad as Religious Aggression and Coercion in the Qur’an, Hadith and Early Documents of Islam.” It marked the second NEH research grant he had received. In 1992, Dr. Fairchild was invited to the NEH Seminar “The Greek Encounter with Judaism in the Hellenistic Period,” at Yeshiva University in New York City.
He has written numerous articles and book reviews and holds professional memberships in The Catholic Biblical Association, The Evangelical Theological Society, The Society of Biblical Literature, an the Institute for Biblical Research.
Six academic degrees have been conferred to Dr. Fairchild. He first earned his BS in Biology-Genetics in 1976 from Pennsylvania State University, followed by a BA in Bible and Theology in 1980 from Toccoa Falls College. In 1982, Dr. Fairchild earned his Master of Divinity in Special Curriculum-Biblical Studies from Asbury Theological Seminary and his Master of Philosophy in 1985 in Biblical Studies from Drew University. All of his work culminated into a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies – New Testament in 1989 from Drew University. He has been professor of Bible and Religion at Huntington College since 1986, and in 1993 was a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame.
Dr. Fairchild has been married to his wife, Darlene, for 25 years. They have four children, Peter, Hannah, Ennea and Malina, and the entire household plays tennis.
Known for his sense of humor -- which in part earned him the Huntington College Professor of the Year award in 1997 -- Dr. Fairchild can relate his passions for tennis and teaching. “As a professor who is also an avid tennis player, I understand the meaning of ‘Love’ and ‘Service.’ Moreover, when students raise a racquet, I’m better able to deal with the issue!”
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