Memorial Service: Sunday, Nov. 14, 2010, 2 p.m., Cordier Auditorium, Manchester College, North Manchester, IN
Peace studies professor and activist Ken Brown of Manchester faculty dies
National peace studies pioneer and Manchester College professor emeritus Kenneth L. Brown died Nov. 3 at The Cleveland Clinic, of complications stemming from vasculitis, an auto-immune disease. The North Manchester resident was 77. A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 14 in Cordier Auditorium on campus.
Dr. Brown was a nonviolent activist and educator for peace and justice. For 25 years, he directed the nation’s oldest peace studies program at Manchester College, serving as a consultant to peace studies programs across the country and around the world. He led study teams to Vietnam, Brazil, Northern Ireland, Haiti, Thailand, India, Jamaica, Colombia, Nicaragua, Mexico and Cuba.
“Ken was an amazing man,” said President Jo Young Switzer. “For decades, his name was synonymous with our Peace Studies program. His students grappled with big questions and ambiguities. We respected him for all that and more. We are deeply grateful for the good life and example of Ken Brown.”
Even after retirement in spring 2006, Dr. Brown continued to teach. He and his wife Viona hosted weekly discussions for students in their home since his arrival at Manchester in 1961. Their daughter, Dr. Katy Gray Brown, a 1991 graduate, is assistant professor of philosophy and peace studies at Manchester, and a son, Dr. Michael P. Brown, a 1994 graduate, served as assistant professor of philosophy from 2005 to 2007. Another son, Christopher Brown, owns LifeMed ambulance company in North Manchester.
In 2005, Brown received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Peace and Justice Studies Association. More than 300 colleges and universities are members of the group.
On the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s final campus speech at Manchester College before his assassination, Dr. Brown told the audience: “I like to think that he left this place strengthened a bit by kindred spirits who found staying power from his inspiration to carry on in his absence, until his dream comes true. May it be so.”
An ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren (one of the historic peace churches), Brown founded several organizations, including Brethren Action Movement and the War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund.
In 1980, Dr. Brown assumed the leadership of the college’s Peace Studies Institute and Program in Conflict Resolution, an interdisciplinary curriculum that continues to integrate study of conflict resolution, global studies, religious and philosophical bases of peacemaking with nonviolence theory and practice.
Elaine Zoughbi, who has worked for enduring peace in Palestine for decades, and Yvonne Dilling, whose work on behalf of human rights in Central America has received international acclaim, say Brown inspired them to lead lives of active service for peace and justice in challenging international settings.
“Ken’s class transformed my life,” said Robert C. Johansen, a widely respected expert on international relations and global governance. “We sensed that we were children of the universe, standing on an ethical foundation that transcended race, nation, and our time in history, gently breathing the air of immortality.” Johansen, who studied under Brown in the early ’60s, is director of doctoral studies and senior fellow with the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.