Annual Bitar Memorial Lecture Series - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)


Annual Bitar Memorial Lecture Series

Theme poster featuring an image of the feet of several individuals wearing different shoes. The design reads, The Philosophical Life: Celebrating a Legacy

2021 Dr. Byron I. Bitar Memorial Lectures

The Philosophical Life: Celebrating a Legacy

September 29-30 at Geneva College (During Homecoming)

Celebrated Christian author G.K.Chesterton wrote: “This at least seems to me the main problem: How can we contrive to be at once astonished at the world and yet at home in it?” The philosophical life consists in a posture of wonder toward the world, expressed in fundamental questions about being, doing, knowing, and humanness. To be human is to philosophize. To presume that one can opt out is to deny one’s own humanness. Christian believers particularly seek the love of wisdom (philosophy) as the love of God.

Geneva College offers students the opportunity to cultivate the philosophical life essential to humanness and to professional excellence in all walks of life. Our program also equips its majors for graduate study and a lifetime of professional philosophical service to the world and the church.

The 2021 Dr. Byron I. Bitar Memorial Lectures will feature four Geneva College Philosophy Majors who have completed a PhD in Philosophy. We invite you back to campus to enjoy our engaging speaker lineup. 

Dr. Kyle D. Bennett

Dr. Kyle D. Bennett '03

(PhD Fuller Seminary), Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Department Chair, Caldwell University, Caldwell, NJ.

Dr. John Buchmann

Dr. John Buchmann '07

(PhD University of Chicago), Director of Development, the Lumen Christi Institute, Chicago, IL

Dr. Jennifer Kiefer Fenton

Dr. Jennifer Kiefer Fenton '07

(PhD Marquette University), Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Theory, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI.

Dr. Keith R. Martel

Dr. Keith R. Martel ’97, ’04 MAHE

(PhD Duquesne University), Associate Professor of Higher Education and Director of the Graduate Program, Geneva College, Beaver Falls, PA.

These talks will be given on Geneva’s campus, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, during Homecoming. The public is welcome to join faculty and students.

The Lecture Series also will feature a panel of Philosophy Graduates from an array of walks of life, discussing the philosophical life. 

2021 Bitar Lecture - Schedule of Events

Wednesday, September 29, 2021
  7 p.m.  Dr. Kyle D. Bennett '03
"Disagreement as Spiritual Practice"

John White Chapel
  8 p.m. Dr. Keith R. Martel ’97, ’04 MAHE
"Imagined Worlds, Imagined Word: A Phenomenology of Imagination for a Critical Pedagogy"

John White Chapel
Thursday, September 30, 2021
4 p.m. Panel of Philosophy Major Alumni
"The Philosophical Life"
Skye Lounge
5:30 p.m. Bitar Dinner Banquet
Benedum Room

Registration required – as part of the homecoming registration page.

Register now
7 p.m. Dr. John Buchmann '07
"Money as Metaphysical Monstrosity: Or, How to Do Christian Ethics in the Void”
John White Chapel
8 p.m. Dr. Jennifer Kiefer Fenton '07
"Jane Addams and Democracy as a Way of Life"
John White Chapel

Note: All lectures and the alumni panel will be available via livestream. For the link to join, please contact the Office of Alumni Relations at

We also invite you to join the McCartney Society’s fall reading series (a book club for alumni and friends). The group will read Longing to Know by Professor Emerita, Esther Meek, Ph.D.. Discussion will take place virtually in August and September, with the final book discussion in-person on Saturday, October 2 joined by Dr. Meek.

2021 Bitar Memorial Lecturers

Dr. Kyle D. Bennett

Dr. Kyle D. Bennett '03

Dr. Kyle D. Bennett (MA, PhD, Fuller Seminary) is Associate Professor of Philosophy, and Chair of the Theology and Philosophy Department at Caldwell University, in Caldwell, NJ. He also directs the Spirituality and Leadership Institute, a think tank and training center that focuses on spiritual formation and citizenship in North American democratic society. He is author of Practices of Love: Spiritual Disciplines for the Life of the World (Brazos, 2017).

Dr. John Buchmann

Dr. John Buchmann '07

Dr. John Buchmann is Director of Development at the Lumen Christi Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is a moral theologian working at the intersection of ethical theory, Catholic social thought, and economics. He completed his PhD in religious ethics at the University of Chicago after earning an MTS at Duke Divinity School.

Dr. Jennifer Kiefer Fenton

Dr. Jennifer Kiefer Fenton '07

Dr. Jennifer Kiefer Fenton is Adjunct Associate Professor of Political Theory in the Political Science Department and the Public Service Graduate Program at Marquette University. She teaches courses in Political Ethics and Professional Ethics, and she serves the department as Coordinator for Internships. Her research specializations are normative democratic theory, Pragmatist social epistemology, and professional ethics for the public and nonprofit sectors. She earned her MA in Philosophy from the University at Buffalo, SUNY and her PhD in Philosophy from Marquette University.

Dr. Keith R. Martel

Dr. Keith R. Martel ’97, ’04 MAHE

Dr. Keith R. Martel is Director of the Master of Arts in Higher Education program at Geneva College; he also serves as faculty in Political Science. He holds a PhD in Philosophy from Duquesne University and an MA in Higher Education from Geneva College. Dr. Martel’s current interests in educational philosophy include questions concerning technology and environment from a phenomenological perspective.

Dr. Byron I. Bitar Memorial Lecture

Dr. Byron I. Bitar
Dr. Byron I. Bitar

The Dr. Byron I. Bitar Memorial Lecture in Philosophy was endowed by the William C. Kriner Family in memory of Geneva College′s beloved professor of a quarter-century, in order to continue his legacy and vision for philosophy. The Lecture was inaugurated in 2004, a year after Dr. Bitar′s untimely death. Past Bitar Lecturers include renowned philosophers Stephen Evans, Paul Helm, Alvin Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstorff, and Linda Zagzebski.

In addition to the lectures, the Bitar event includes a special by-invitation banquet for student and alumni Philosophy Majors, as well as to honor the Lectures′ endowing families, the William Kriners and the family of Byron Bitar. It features the announcement of the annual Bitar Cash Prize for best student philosophy paper, a gift from Mrs. Gail Bitar. Also there is a catered meal for the Lecturers and the Panelists.

Past Bitar Lecturers include:

  • 2004-05: Dr. Stephen Evans, Baylor University – “Can Love be Commanded?: Kierkegaard on the Foundations of Moral Obligation”        
  • 2005-06: Dr. Paul Helm – “John Calvin′s Big Idea”
  • 2006-07: Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff – "Love and Justice"
  • 2007-08: Dr. Linda Zagzebski – "Self-Trust and Religious Belief"
  • 2008-09: Dr. James K.A. Smith – "A Liturgical Phenomenology for a Post-Secular Age"
  • 2009-10: Dr. R.J. Snell – "Culture of Boredom, Culture of Death"
  • 2010-11: Dr. Paul K. Moser – “Expecting a Severe God”
  • 2011-12: Dr. Alvin Plantinga – “Science, Religion and Naturalism”
  • 2012-13: Dr. Nancey Murphy – “Human Nature at the Intersection of Science, Religion and Philosophy”
  • 2013-14: Dr. Merold Westphal – "Getting from There to Here: From Modernity to Postmodernity"
  • 2014-15: Dr. D.C. Schindler – "A Pre-Modern Response to the Post-Modern 'Lonely Mind’"
  • 2015-16: Dr. Gregory R. Beabout - "Philosophical Wisdom for Business Savvy: The Character of the Manager"
  • 2016-17: Dr. Frances Howard-Snyder  - "The Moral Risk of Trust: Learning from Fiction"
  • 2017-18: Dr. D.C. Schindler - “Hans Urs von Balthasar on Beauty” and Dr. John F. Crosby
    “Dietrich von Hildebrand’s Defense of Beauty Against Its Detractors"
  • 2018-19: Dr. R. J. Snell/Dr. Matthew Kaemingk  - "Political Theology: Classical & Reformed Approaches"

Contact us to receive free Bitar Lecturer Quotation Bookmarks from our annual series.

Email or call 724-847-6700.

Philosophy at Geneva College

“Engaging the philosophical conversation, honing critical skills and passions, cultivating wisdom, for service, for living; in submission to Jesus Christ the Truth.”