Reverend Dr James Pain T’54,’55, longtime Drew University Dean, Chaplain, Faculty dies


Reverend Dr James Pain T’54,’55, longtime Drew University Dean, Chaplain, Faculty dies

Beloved Pain spent 65 years with Drew

July 2022 – It is with great sadness that Drew University announces the passing of Reverend Dr. James Pain T’54,’55 earlier this month at the age of 92.

Reverend Dr. Pain has been an integral part of Drew for more than six decades, during which he has served as student, chaplain, professor, and dean.

Pain first moved east from his hometown of Los Angeles in 1951 to study at Drew Theological School. Thus began a connection with Drew that would last for the next 65 years.

After earning two degrees from Theological School, Pain went on to serve as college chaplain, Henry and Annie M. Pfeiffer Professor of Religion, and dean of the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies.

His time at the head of the Caspersen School was an evolutionary time for the school, and Pain responded by creating new programs and adapting the programs to meet the needs of the students.

“Changing attitudes requires different outcomes, and students specialize and prepare for careers,” he said in 2001, 10 years after he took office as dean.

Pain retired from Drew in 2006. That year, the Caspersen School established the Dean Pain Award in honor of his 15 years as dean of the school. It is awarded annually to the best interdisciplinary doctoral thesis that is uniquely distinguished by its creative thinking and prose style.

Pain was a beloved member of the Drew community, leading chapel services, class seminars and conversations on everything from spirituality to the works of CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien, whom Pain met while studying for his doctorate at Keble College, University of Oxford.

In a 2001 Drew magazine cover story honoring his 50th year at Drew, Pain quipped, “I’ve been around so long, maybe I’m a monument to inertia.”

In his humility, Pain neglected to mention that ordinary people rarely achieve monument status.

If anyone in Drew’s 150-plus-year history deserves a monument, Pain seems like a natural choice to lead the list. For now, the stained glass windows dedicated to Pain and his passions in SW Bowne’s Great Hall will surely suffice.

The University has created a web page in honor of Reverend Dr. Pain. If you would like to send a note or keepsake, you can do so here.


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