Thomas More’s Institute for Religious Liberty Hosts Virtual Program to Discuss America’s Higher Education Legacy

Thomas More’s Institute for Religious Liberty Hosts Virtual Program to Discuss America’s Higher Education Legacy

CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky. (March 11, 2021) — On Thursday, April 15 at 7 p.m., the Thomas More University Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III ’67 Institute for Religious Liberty (IRL) will host guest speaker Paul L. Gaston, Ph.D., to discuss America’s higher education legacy.

“Reclaiming the ‘Publick Happiness,’ America’s Higher Education Legacy,” the 11th event held by the IRL since its founding in 2015, will take place virtually on Zoom. The event is free and open to the public. To RSVP, visit

“I am excited to be bringing Paul Gaston back to Northern Kentucky,” said Ray Hebert, Ph.D., executive director of the IRL. “Paul is a former provost at Northern Kentucky University and deacon at Trinity Episcopalian Church in Covington. He has since been recognized as a nationally known expert in the field of higher education.”

Gaston is a frequent speaker at national conferences, an Association of American Colleges and Universities Distinguished Fellow, and a consultant to the Lumina Foundation. He is the author of several books, including “General Education Transformed,” “Higher Education Accreditation,” “General Education and Liberal Learning,” and “The Challenge of Bologna.” He is completing a book on higher education credentials scheduled for publication in 2021. Gaston earned a master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Virginia, where he was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow.  

“Gaston’s return is another example of the collaborative efforts that flourish locally among the area’s post-secondary institutions,” Hebert added. 

Debra Humphreys, Ph.D., is one of the two commentators for the event. She is currently the vice president of strategic engagement for the Lumina Foundation of Indianapolis where she directs efforts to assure the quality of education beyond high school. She received a bachelor’s degree from Williams College and a master’s degree and doctorate in English from Rutgers University. Humphreys has senior leadership experience with the Association of American Colleges and Universities and has decades of experience in higher education reform focused on improving teaching and learning, curriculum redesign, and quality assurance.

Kim Haverkos, Ph.D., the second commentator of the evening, is the dean of the College of Education and Health Sciences at Thomas More. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Xavier University and a master’s degree in science education from the University of Cincinnati. Haverkos joined the Education Department in the fall of 2012 after receiving her doctorate from Miami University. Her dissertation work explored girls’ attitudes and behaviors around “going green” and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and her areas of research/teaching continue to focus on education, cultural studies, and issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. She teaches on both graduate and undergraduate program levels.

Ray Hebert, Ph.D., director of the IRL since 2016, has highlighted that the most recent programs, including this one, have been a reminder that a sub theme for the IRL programs is the importance of promoting civil dialogue, especially at a time when our society has been so divided politically.

The IRL serves to advance the American concept of religious freedom as an inalienable right and the protection of this right for all people. It was established in 2015 after several local business and educational leaders, including representatives from Hebrew Union College, discussed the need to celebrate and educate others about the constitutional privilege and right to freely worship and practice religion.

Thomas More University provides students with something much more than job training. Graduates are prepared for any career. But they leave prepared for much more. They are exposed to the very best thought, literature, art, and music. They learn to harness the power of human reason to solve problems and discover truth. Most importantly, they have the chance to begin to become the person they were created to be. This is the power of the liberal arts in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition at Thomas More University. Our students come here looking for more. And that’s exactly what we offer. Here our students take that opportunity and…Make It More. Learn more at


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