Chestertown Futures Case Study #19: J. David Newell


J. David Newell is a rare combination for Chestertown.  An academic in the field of ethics by training, Dr. Newell joined the faculty at Washington College in the philosophy department in 1968, and served as its chair for fifteen years until his “retirement” in 2005.  While David’s work at WC has inspired many, with a passion to bring the field of ethics to every day life, from corporate board rooms (he also served as Vice President of the Aspen Institute) to the United States Army (taking leave from WC to teach ethics at West Point), and finally, and more locally, providing important ethical insights while serving on the boards of the Kent & Queen Anne’s Hospital and the Heron Point retirement community. And while most men his age now enjoy the freedom of their retirement years, just last year David was appointed to serve as the minister of Chestertown’s Unitarian Universalist Church.

From his unique vantage point, David is surprisingly optimistic about Chestertown’s Future.  At times he sadly grieves that Washington College’s faculty are increasingly commuting to Chestertown to teach, and remains extremely worried at the town’s unemployed, Professor Newell maintains that Chestertown is still a special and unique community that has set high standards for civic involvement and compassion.

Chestertown Futures is a two-year project of the Chestertown Spy to provide a sustained community conversation on Chestertown’s future and aspirations through the unique voices of twenty-four members of the community representing all aspects of greater Chestertown. By design, these interviews are longer than most broadcast interviews to allow each participant ample time to express their views. It is therefore advisable to allow time for the YouTube video to load the interview fully before viewing, which may take up to three to five minutes.

Letters to Editor

  1. Meg Murray says

    As a future student of Dr. Newell’s, and past resident of Chestertown, I found the interview to be extremely interesting, and look forward to more. Dr. Newell is so articulate that listening to him is quite enjoyable, and the interviewer asked incisive questions. Thank you!

  2. Alex Schuetz says

    Dr. Newell was an inspiration to me, during my time at WC. Glad to be able to enjoy this interview. Thanks!

  3. Eric Nardulli says

    Dr. Newell was the first college professor I ever had – M-W-F 8:20am “Unity, Plurality, and The American Dream”. I ended up being a Philosophy major, meeting my best friend (whom I was best man for at his wedding), learned what the “American Dream” is/was/will be, and got a couple of free slices of pizza out of the class! Not bad!

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