An Interview With Dr. Barnett

Dr. Barnett is one of the newest faculty members of the Villanova University Theology Department. He is an asset to our faculty of Villanova because of his passion for scholarly work, as well as his enthusiastic nature in teaching his students.

Dr. Barnett was born in Tullahoma, TN, and has one sister, JoAnna. Dr. Barnett’s late father was a mechanical engineer at The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), and his mother who now lives in Birmingham, Alabama is a retired elementary special education teacher. Dr. Barnett’s mother taught at the same elementary school that Dr. Barnett attended. After graduating high school, Dr. Barnett went on to UAB for college and studied social science and education. He first developed an interest in philosophy and literature as an undergraduate. He then received his Master’s degree from St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD, in 2001. Dr. Barnett earned his Master’s of Divinity from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in 2004. He received his doctorate from The University of Oxford in 2008. Before coming to Villanova University Dr. Barnett taught at Berry College in Rome, Georgia, which is not far from Atlanta.

Dr. Barnett accepted the position to teach at Villanova University this fall. He is currently teaching two undergraduate courses and one master’s level course. Dr. Barnett has written many articles and is well known for his book, Kierkegaard, Pietism and Holiness, which was published in 2011.

Even with a very busy schedule, Dr. Barnett is a family man, and his family is extremely important to him. He met his wife while he was in kindergarten and they have three sons: Luke is eight, Caleb is six, and Paul is four years old. His children love the Philadelphia Phillies and playing sports. The Barnetts have an English bulldog named Bubba.

Aside from Dr. Barnett’s educational background, it is his personality and personal interests that spark a connection with his students. Dr. Barnett is a music fan, and his favorites are Bob Dylan, Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Fleet foxes, U2, and Mumford and Sons. Dr. Barnett is a sports fan with a lot of southern pride for his Alabama Crimson Tide, as well as UAB basketball. He is also a Villanova basketball fan. Dr. Barnett’s favorite book is The Brothers Karamazov, and his favorite writers are Fyodor Dostoevsky, Søren Kierkegaard, and Flannery O’Connor. His favorite dining experience is “going to New Orleans and eating out.” When I asked him what his favorite type of coffee was, his response to me was “French Roast (period).”

Since Dr. Barnett is a new faculty member at Villanova, I thought I would ask a question to which most people would want to know the answer, “Why did you choose to come to Villanova?”

“I was particularly excited to have the opportunity to be a part of a great Catholic institution like Villanova.,” he said. “I was drawn to Villanova’s Augustinian model of education, which puts great emphasis on seeking the truth through shared inquiry. Also, I look forward to living in the Philadelphia area.”

Dr. Barnett remarked that his undergraduate students are bright and write well. He also enjoys his graduate class, “Spirituality after the Death of God,” because he likes the class conversations and sees how interested the students are in their work.
I think Dr. Barnett is an asset to the Villanova community because of his academic scholarship and his compelling interest in being the professor who is sincerely invested in conversations with his students. Dr. Barnett has a fullness of life about him that anyone can see when you step into his classroom. I think this is a wonderfully winning combination of a professor from whom we shall see great things in our Villanova community.

By Mary Catherine O’Reilly Gindhart ’12

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