Jack P. Barlow Sr., associate professor emeritus of history and political science
, entered heaven on Feb. 10. During his 32 years on the Huntington faculty, he was a mentor, distinguished scholar and trusted friend to many students, faculty and staff.
“His greatest joy was to see his students develop spiritually and academically,” said President G. Blair Dowden. “In his own unique way, Professor Barlow was used by God to encourage and instill confidence and a sense of direction in many individual lives.”
Sandra Hartle, a 1988 graduate, was among the many students who received life-shaping encouragement from Barlow.
“I was a non-traditional student when I started at HC in 1984. Prof. Barlow had an amazing gift for seeing beyond the surface! As a single mother of three young children and a woefully deficient educational background, he saw something in me that I didn't see in myself,” she said.
Dr. Ann McPherren (1978), long-time business professor now serving as HU’s senior vice president for strategy, credited Barlow with suggesting her career path.
“Many years ago Jack suggested that I think about college teaching, a profession I had never considered until he encouraged me,” she said.
Barlow had a contagious zeal for learning.
“I entered Huntington College as a freshman in the fall of 1972,” remembered Dr. Dave Rahn, director of the master’s program in youth ministry leadership. “There is no doubt that the switch God flipped in me to actually care about learning had Jack Barlow’s fingerprints on it.”
As a believer and an accomplished historian, Barlow was deeply committed to the careful integration of faith and learning.
“Jack played a significant role in starting the Conference on Faith and History, as one of the charter members and a founding board member of the journal, ‘Fides et Historia,’” recalled Dr. Jeff Webb, professor of history. “Early leaders like George Marsden and Mark Noll valued Jack’s contribution to the organization and continued to ask about him when his health prevented him from participating in CFH meetings. Without Jack’s contribution, it is hard to imagine Huntington enjoying recognition among professional historians as an institution committed to serious, faith-informed academic inquiry.”
Barlow was awarded the Huntington College Centennial Medallion in 1997, an honor bestowed on the institution’s 100 most influential individuals. When he retired from active teaching in 1999, the Indiana General Assembly recognized him for the guidance and inspiration he had offered Indiana students. Barlow was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Huntington in 2005.
Despite his many accolades and awards, Barlow was a humble man who showed a genuine concern for his colleagues, especially newcomers to the campus community.
“My second day in the office I had a phone call of welcome from Jack and an invitation to lunch the next day,” said Jeff Berggren, senior vice president for enrollment management and marketing. “He picked me up, took me downtown, we ate Chinese, he picked up the check and Jack spent all of the time getting to know me and allowing me to ask questions of him about the college and the community. He had no personal agenda other than to make me feel welcome, which Jack did in a very meaningful and memorable way.”
Dr. Jerry Davis, who now serves as director of the graduate counseling program, shared a similar story about the welcome he received from Barlow.
“I loved this man. He took me under his wing, as he did for so many others. I was 25 years old when I came to HC in 1980 as director of campus ministries. I was so young and inexperienced and he taught me how to understand and talk with ‘faculty types,’” he said.
All across campus, Barlow was well known for his wit and clever turns of phrase.
“It was an oddly comforting statement that Jack made to us as his students in History of Christianity sometime around 1980,” said Dr. Luke Fetters (1982). “The gist of it went something like this: ‘None of you need to worry, you’re not smart enough to be heretics.’ It was nice to know that any wrong-headed thoughts I had about God and the Church had likely been thought, proposed and dealt with at some previous point in history.”
Barlow’s involvement in a certain classroom mishap has become legendary on campus.
“I will never forget Jack Barlow or the day in class when the overhead went out the window,” said Ron Goetz (1989). In a second-floor classroom of Becker Hall (the “Ad Building”), Barlow had leaned back in his chair, bumped into the overhead projector cart and sent it rolling across the floor toward an open window. The projector landed safely on an overhang below.
Registrar Sarah Harvey (1978) described Barlow as “engaged, intense, curious about everyone and everything, committed to his faith and to Huntington University, a little bit outrageous and proud of it.”
“He was also a lot of fun to be around,” she added. “Those descriptors applied when I met him in 1975, when I was his advisee in the history department and a student in his classes, when I was stuck on a bus with him and some other Huntington College folks for five days during the blizzard of 1978, and when I returned to campus as a colleague. I treasure the memories I have of him and will remember his gleeful laugh most of all.”