By Steve Pokin
The relationship of animals to humans as portrayed in French literature. The ethical aspects of a man’s request that his beloved dog be euthanized when he dies so they can be buried together. Ongoing controversies over puppy mills and circus elephants.
It’s all covered in Drury University’s new 18-hour animal studies minor, one of the few programs like it in the nation, according to Professor Patricia McEachern.
Since 2007, she has spearheaded efforts to create the minor and, in the process, went from a professor of French to the Dorothy Jo Barker Endowed Professor of Animal Rights.
Drury faculty OK’d the minor in November 2012. It was offered for the first time this fall.
“I am proud of it and proud of my colleagues,” McEachern said. “I’m very grateful of the administrative support.”
The program was made possible by two $1 million donations from Bob Barker, a 1949 Drury grad and an animal rights advocate. Barker hosted CBS’s “The Price is Right” from 1972 to 2007.
The endowed chair is named after Barker’s wife, who died in 1981. Barker credits her for his interest in the welfare of animals. Dorothy Jo Barker was in the forefront in protesting the killing of animals for fur.
McEachern shared her longtime interest in animal rights with Barker when he came to Drury in 2007 to give the commencement address. He also received an honorary degree. McEachern, like Barker, is a vegan, meaning they don’t eat animal products.
Barker subsequently asked McEachern if there was something Drury could do “to improve the lives of animals.”
If there was, McEachern recalled, Barker mentioned he had $1 million to contribute.
“Being who I am, I said, ‘Yes, we can do that,’ ” McEachern said. “But when I hung up the phone I said, ‘How are we going to do that?’ ” More....