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A Milestone Of Achievement

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Thomas P. Slavens has published 25 books and is working on the next one

DEC 30 1995



Thomas P. Slavens's curriculum vitae reads like a formula for the well-rounded scholar.

Honors? Yes, there’s a generous sprinkling of them.

Professional organizations? Well, they’re fairly wide-ranging, too.

And as for “education and employment,” does living in 40 countries at one time or another provide a clue?

You could say Professor Slavens has packed plenty of achievement into a life that embraced two careers - one as a minister of the Word and another as professor of library science.

He’s also rubbed shoulders with some of the elite names in modem theology.

But the standout performance of Slavens’s professional life is his publication of 25 books.

Now that’s prodigious authorship, on a par with James Michener, although Slavens and Michener don’t share the same genre.

Slavens, 66, is rounding out more than 30 years on the faculty of the University Of Michigan in the School of Information and Library Studies.

Bom in Cincinnati, Iowa, Slavens attended Loyola College in Baltimore before getting a degree in religion at Phillips University in Enid, Okla.

He felt called to the cloth at an early age, recalling that his fifth grade essay had him wanting to be “a missionary in Outer Mongolia.”

Deeply religious from the start and “open to the many avenues my life might take,” Slavens and the ministry seemed like a good fit.

It was at Union Theological Seminary in New York that Slavens made the acquaintanceship of the top theologians and preachers of the day.

Paul Tillich, Henry Pittman Van Dusen and Harry Emerson Fosdick were among Slavens’s teachers.

(Slavens wrote on his experiences in “Union Seminary: Where Great Minds Met” in The Ann Arbor News of Dec. 1,1979).

After getting his divinity degree, Slavens accepted the pastorate of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Sac City, Iowa.

What’s remarkable is that at the tender age of 24, Slavens was the pastor of a 700-member church which one Sunday alone took in 150 new members.

And all this in a town of 3,500 people!

At the invitation of the dean of the seminary at Drake University who needed a librarian, Slavens left the ministry for the world of library science - a path that eventually took him to Ann Arbor where he got his Ph. D from the U-M in 1965.

That also launched a highly successful career in publishing.

When he came out with his “Sources of Information for Historical Research” recently, it was a personal publishing milestone.

When you consider that many people don’t even read 25 books in a lifetime, writing 25 books becomes even more of a monumental achievement.

One book, “Research Guide to Philosophy," was named one of the outstanding reference works of 1985 by the American Library Association and as one of the leading academic books of the year by Choice magazine.

“Most of my books,” says Slavens, “ are reference books for use in libraries. And some are textbooks to be used in teaching.”

Thomas P. Slavens, professor in the School of Information and Library Studies at the University of Michigan.

Other books, such as his “Introduction to Systematic Theology” and “Doors to God,” a compilation of special occasion sermons, are of general interest.

Along the way, Slavens has served as a Visiting Professor at the University of Wales, and Visiting Scholar at the University of Oxford.

He also discovered firsthand that one of the world’s largest libraries in Moscow didn’t even have a computer.

Ever the scholar, Slavens says he tries to keep his feet in two camps - “my original vocation, the ministry, and keeping up-tb date with the electronic revolution in library science.”

No one can accuse Slavens-of resting on his oars.

His next book, “Competitive Intelligence,” a source of information in electronic and print form for business people, has a publication date of 1997.

The prolific pen of Tom Slavens has a lot in common with the Energizer just keeps going.