Rod Stiling: A history and future with SPU

Photo by Chris Yang

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF HISTORY Rod Stiling is living out the advice he regularly gave to students: “Keep going and keep growing. There is no such thing as a static tree. It’s either growing or it’s dead.” Stiling retired June 2021 after more than 30 years in the classroom.

His scholarship focused on the intersection of faith and science throughout history, and he guided students through the sophisticated minds of such scientific giants as Kepler, Galileo, Darwin, and Einstein.

“I was so fortunate to have had the chance to take his “Faith and Science” class as a young UScholar,” said ALISSA WALTER ’08, who was part of SPU’s honors program. Walter is now an assistant professor of history at SPU. “It was moving for me to learn the history of faith and science in the West through his eyes.”

In the early 2000s, Stiling was one of only 30 international scholars selected to explore the relationship between science and faith at the John Templeton Oxford Seminar on Science and Christianity. SPU students chose him as their 2006 Professor of the Year, and he was named the 2010 Top Professor (SPU Chapter, Mortar Board National Honor Society).

A retired Navy Reserve captain, Stiling participated in Veterans Day events on campus each year. Stiling encouraged students to think deeply about their Christian faith and consider how their own lives flow out of a historical context.

Former students and colleagues will still see Stiling on campus in the coming years. Stiling and his wife of 49 years, Ruth, plan to be back in the stands cheering on Falcon athletes, and in the audiences at E.E. Bach Theatre and Nickerson Studios, applauding student actors and musicians as the COVID-19 restrictions ease. During Autumn Quarter, he volunteered in a “Faith and Science” honors course. He will teach a course during Spring Quarter as an adjunct professor.

Beyond those objectives, Stiling is keeping his retirement plans loose: Revive rusty piano- and guitar-playing skills; be the best grandfather possible to their seven grandchildren; visit Antarctica. “That’s our plan,” he said. “Keep living and learning.”

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