July 2022 – It is with great sadness that Drew University reports the passing of the Rev. Dr. James Pain T’54,’55 earlier this month at the age of 92.
The Rev. Dr. Pain was a fixture at Drew for more than six decades, during which time he held roles of a student, chaplain, professor, and dean.
Pain originally moved east from his hometown of Los Angeles in 1951 to study at Drew Theological School. Thus began a connection to Drew that lasted the next 65 years.
After earning two degrees from the Theological School, Pain went on to serve as the University chaplain, the Henry and Annie M. Pfeiffer Professor of Religion, and dean of the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies.
His time leading the Caspersen School was a period of evolution for the school, and Pain responded by creating new programs and adapting curricula to meet the needs of the students.
“Changing attitudes require different outcomes, and students are specializing and preparing for careers,” he said in 2001, 10 years into his time as dean.
Pain retired from Drew in 2006. That year, the Caspersen School established the Dean Pain Prize in honor of his 15 years as dean of the school. It is awarded annually for the best interdisciplinary doctoral dissertation that is singularly distinguished by creative thought 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 C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, both of whom Pain met while studying for his PhD at Oxford University’s Keble College.
In a 2001 Drew Magazine cover story honoring his 50th year at Drew, Pain quipped, “I stayed so long, perhaps I am a monument to inertia.”
In his humility, Pain neglected to mention that ordinary people rarely make it to monument status.
If someone in Drew’s 150-plus year history is deserving of a monument, Pain feels like a natural choice to lead the list. For now, the stained glass windows dedicated to Pain and his passions in S.W. Bowne’s Great Hall will surely suffice.