Columbia International University is mourning two biblical scholars who devoted a combined 78 years to the private evangelical Christian Bible college and left a giant imprint on several generations of students.
Terry C. Hulbert, a retired professor who also served as dean of the seminary and provost and vice president for academic affairs, died Feb. 22 at age 89. He will be eulogized Sunday at a 2 p.m. funeral at St. Andrews Evangelical Church, 2609 Seminole Road.
On Feb. 18, the university learned that William “Bill” Larkin, a renowned scholar and author of a number of well-regarded books on the book of Acts and the Gospel of Luke, had died at age 68 following a battle with cancer.
CIU President Bill Jones this week described the two men as “pillars” of the university in north Columbia, renowned not only for their biblical scholarship but for their humanity.
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“They were both recognized experts in their fields,” Jones said. But as university leaders reminisced Monday during a campus meeting about the two men, Jones said it was personal stories of encouragement that defined both.
Hulbert “taught almost to his mid-80s, but after every lecture, he would go back and see what he could do better,” Jones recalled. “That humbles me.”
Larkin encouraged a future CIU president, George Murray, when he was a young scholar struggling to finish his master’s thesis, Jones said. Murray is now chancellor of CIU.
At Larkin’s funeral Saturday at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Columbia, John Harvey, dean of CIU’s seminary and School of Ministry, remembered a professor who expected much from his students but also was concerned about their individual spiritual lives.
“He was as demanding on his students as he was on himself,” Harvey said. “He invested in studying God’s Word as deeply as possible, so he could teach as accurately as possible.”
But when someone knocked on his office door, “he would put aside whatever he was working on and hear what was on your heart. I guarantee you; you would not get out of his office without him praying for you, because he was a pastor.”
Born William John Larkin on Aug. 12, 1945 in Donora, Pa., he was an ordained pastor in the United Presbyterian Church, the denomination his minister father served.
In his obituary, his family noted that Larkin, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary sat with students at lunch and “always had a word of encouragement and a sweet smile, even just in passing someone on the sidewalk.”
Hulbert spent the first two decades at CIU in administrative posts, serving first as dean of the seminary from 1972 to 1988. From 1988 to 1994, he was provost and vice president for academic affairs and served as interim president 1990-91.
Hulbert returned to the classroom where he encouraged students to “walk in the sandals” of the significant figures of the Bible.
To facilitate their journey, Hulbert developed a set of instructional PowerPoint slides, later converted to CDs that included geographic aids, satellite maps, videos and other educational tools to further understanding of the Old and New Testaments. The teaching tools were called “Walking in Their Sandals.”
Terry C. Hulbert was born in London, Ontario, Canada and earned his theological degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. He spent many years on the continent of Africa as a “missionary statesman,” Jones said, which also contributed to the knowledge he could pass on to his students entering the mission field.
On the obituary guestbook, Ken Temple of Lawrenceville, Ga., wrote that Hulbert “was a great encouragement to me as a missionary” and recalled how his former professor would send him materials to use in the mission field.
Jones said he meets regularly with about 30 young Bible professors who he hopes will follow in the footsteps of Larkin and Hulbert and carve out as lasting a legacy.
“I’m confident that we will have another generation that is just as gifted,” Jones said. “We will have to wait and see what their legacy will be.”