The Pearson Distinguished Professorship in Swedish Studies at Bethany College is endowed by a generous gift from Gerald “Bud” Pearson, Okoboji, Iowa. Mr. Pearson was a long-time friend and supporter of Bethany College, and served on Bethany’s Board of Directors for two terms. He was president of the Pearson Art Foundation. He passed away on June 23, 2008.
The Pearson Distinguished Professorship in Swedish Studies discovers ways in which present-day Swedish culture and experience can illuminate and strengthen life in the United States.
Mr. Pearson had a very personal interest in nurturing relationships between Sweden and the United States. He explained, “Scandinavian immigrants to this country in the last century brought with them strengths which enabled them to succeed and to make a significant contribution to the life of their new homeland.”
“My Uncle Eph and Aunt Em, who immigrated from Sweden, exhibited those qualities of faith, a willingness to work hard, honesty, self-discipline, a sense of responsibility and a readiness to endure hardship for the sake of a better future for their children. These immigrants brought with them little in the way of material goods, but by their commitment and their achievements they have been an inspiration for the generations which followed. The success of Americans of Scandinavian descent in this century owes much to those hardy pioneers who risked everything for a new beginning in a new land.”
Past Professors include art curator and historian Beate Sydhoff, journalist Arne Ruth, poet and novelist Ylva Eggehorn, theologian Krister Stendahl, anthropologist Brita Stendahl, environmentalist Jimmy Sjöblom, composer Eskil Hemberg, theologian the Rev. Kjell Ove Nilsson, international opera star Håkan Hagegård, expert in interfaith dialogue the Rev. Hans Ucko, specialist in forensic and genetic studies Peter Savolainen, Lutheran pastor and church musician Per Harling, and printmaker and art consultant Jordi Arkö.