Established in 2007 by Philip and Melissa Russ

In 2000, PHILIP and MELISSA RUSS began the process of endowing a professorship in appreciation for the education that their son, Manuel Benjamin “Ben” Russ, received at the Johns Hopkins University Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. Ben Russ, a member of the Class of 2000, majored in history and graduated with departmental honors. In bestowing upon the school a professorship in the humanities, the Russ family has demonstrated its belief in the fundamental importance of scholarship in the humanities and a shared vision with the School of Arts and Sciences to build upon its enduring strengths in these disciplines.

The humanities programs at Johns Hopkins reflect the characteristic qualities of an intellectual community. The coordinated study of Western civilization through its literature, art, philosophy, and history has been one of the oldest continuing concerns at Hopkins. Because it has remained by design and tradition the smallest of the major American universities and because of the interdisciplinary interests of some of its most distinguished faculty, Hopkins has fostered to a remarkable degree the free exchange between scholars and students across departmental boundaries. The Russ Professorship demonstrates the commitment of Arts and Sciences alumni to the continued excellence of the humanities at Johns Hopkins.


HENT DE VRIES is the inaugural Russ Family Professor of the Humanities; he has held a joint appointment as professor in the Humanities Center and the Department of Philosophy at The Johns Hopkins University's Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences since 2003. He is currently chairman of the Humanities Center. Before joining the faculty at Johns Hopkins, Dr. de Vries held the chair of Metaphysics and its History in the Philosophy Department at the University of Amsterdam (1993-2002), where he continues to hold a research position as professor ordinarius of systematic philosophy and the philosophy of religion. He co-founded the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, an interdisciplinary research and graduate institution, and served as director of its governing board (1994-1998) and scientific director (1998-2004).

Dr. de Vries earned his PhD in the philosophy of religion from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands in 1989. His previous teaching and research positions include: Mellon postdoctoral fellow at The Johns Hopkins University; associate professor of philosophy at Loyola University of Chicago; senior visiting scholar at the Institute for the Advanced Study of Religion at the University of Chicago; senior fellow at the Center for the Study of World Religions; and visiting scholar at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University.

In May 2007, he was appointed directeur de programme at the Collège International de Philosophie in Paris. Since 2001, he has served as chair of The Future of the Religious Past, an interdisciplinary program sponsored by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. In this capacity, he also serves as general editor of five volumes of proceedings resulting from the program. Since January 2006, he has served as an advisor to the Netherlands’ Scientific Council of Government Policy in the Hague and as a member of its project group on religion and the public domain.

Dr. de Vries currently serves as the director of graduate studies in the Humanities Center and as a member of the steering committee of the Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Program in Jewish Studies. He is also a member of the faculty steering committee for the School of Arts and Sciences’ Program for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality.