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April 4, 2001


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DALLAS (SMU) -- In his last public lecture at Southern Methodist University before retiring this spring, William F. May, the nationally renowned ethicist, will discuss the responsibility of the news media beyond just reporting the news in a lecture titled "Media Professionals and Celebrities: Unordained Teaching Authorities Today." His retirement from SMU is effective May 31.

The founding director of SMU's Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, May has been invited to give the biannual Maguire Public Scholar's Lecture for his last lecture at SMU. The lecture will be at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 18, in the Georges Auditorium, room 175, Crow Building, at SMU's Edwin L. Cox School of Business, 6214 Bishop Blvd. It is free and open to the public. A reception for May will precede the lecture at 3:30 p.m.

For more information about the lecture, contact the Maguire Center at 214-768-4255.

"Taking the long view of history, we have had three successive teaching authorities in the West: the Church, public schools and the media. This lecture will explore the unordained teaching authority exercised by 'media professionals' and 'celebrities' in a society like ours," said May, the Cary M. Maguire University Professor of Ethics at SMU.

Since coming to SMU in 1985 from the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., May has held one of two universitywide endowed chairs, which has allowed him to teach ethics courses in disciplines across campus, including theology, law, philosophy and business. May, who began his career in 1951, is recognized as one of America's leading scholars and teachers in the field of medical ethics, but also has written extensively and lectured internationally on ethical issues related to religion, politics, business and the professions. This fall he will publish his sixth book, The Beleaguered Rulers: The Public Obligation of the Professional.

A former president of the American Academy of Religion and a founding fellow of the Hastings Center, where he co-chaired the research group on death and dying, May served as a member of the Working Group on Ethical Foundations for the Clinton Task Force on National Health Care Reform in 1993. The national Phi Beta Kappa Society selected him as one of 12 visiting scholars for the academic year 1999-2000, an honor that had him lecture on eight university and college campuses nationwide. His alma mater, Yale University Divinity School, recognized May in October 2000 with an Award for Distinction in Scholarship and Theological Education.

May's other books include The Patient's Ordeal and The Physician's Covenant: Images of the Healer in Medical Ethics. Recently he edited and wrote the introduction to the book, The Ethics of Giving and Receiving: Am I My Foolish Brother's Keeper? (SMU Press, 2000), which originated from two conferences on philanthropy and ethics sponsored by the Maguire Center. Other writings by May in the field of medical ethics relate to such subjects as the right to die and the obligation to care, organ transplants and ethics of doctors and lawyers.

He received his Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1952 and his Ph.D. from Yale in 1962. After retiring from SMU this spring, he plans to teach a course on medical ethics and participate in faculty research for one semester at Yale University before returning to Dallas.