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President's Message | Archive



September 10, 2010

TO:  Campus Community
FROM:  Neil Kerwin, President
SUBJECT:  Bishop James K. Mathews, Trustee Emeritus and University Friend

It is with sadness that I announce the death of Bishop James K. Mathews on September 8. Bishop Mathews was a longtime American University trustee and leader of the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Bishop Mathews was a member of American University’s Board of Trustees from 1972 to 1986 and served as board chair from 1976 to 1983. Bishop Mathews was a prominent figure in AU’s history, providing a strong link to our historic Methodist roots and establishing the library as a university priority. Bishop Mathews’s inspired guidance in the early 1980s helped to safely steer AU through challenging economic times. In recognition of his extraordinary contributions to AU, he was named trustee emeritus in 1986 and the United Methodist Foundation established the Bishop James K. and Eunice J. Mathews Scholarship which provides financial assistance to AU and Wesley Seminary students.

Bishop Mathews and his wife, Eunice, have been involved in the life of the university for many years, providing support to the Kay Spiritual Life Center, university library, and athletics. Mrs. Mathews is a College of Arts and Sciences alumna.

Bishop Mathews received theological training at a number of institutions, including Boston University, Cambridge University, and Columbia University. His lifelong passion for mission work led him to India, Africa, and Asia. Bishop Mathews was also active in the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s. Always an innovator and visionary in education, his concern for valued-based instruction led him to serve on the Board of Santiago College in Chile and play a catalytic role in the creation of the Africa University in Zimbabwe.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, September 25, at the Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church, adjacent to campus. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions to support missionary work in India can be made to the E. Stanley and Mabel Jones Foundation at the General Board of Global Ministries, 475 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10115.

We extend condolences to Mrs. Mathews and the entire family. A link to Bishop Mathews’s obituary appears online (

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