The Author

Robert L. McCan received his Ph.D. from New College, University of Edinburgh, and is a graduate of Yale Divinity School.  He is an ordained minister and held pastorates in three Southern Baptist churches.

He left the pastoral ministry in 1963 and after two years of post-doctoral study at Harvard University, Dr. McCan founded and served as President of Dag Hammarskjold College.  The international college had a majority of faculty and students from other countries and all students held internships at the United Nations.

Dr. McCan held four Executive Appointments in the federal government: the Office of Economic Opportunity, the Office of Education, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Agency of International Development.

He returned to the ministry for the Church as Associate Professor of Political Ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary and as an Associate at the Churches’ Center for Theology and Public Policy.

He is married to Peggy McCan. They live in Fall Church, Virginia and are members of the Episcopal Church.

Professional Experience—Robert L. McCan, Ph.D.

Bob McCan’s academic training and life experience prepared him to be a guide for the journey into peacemaking and justice described in the book.

Bob’s academic education includes:

  • Three years of graduate school at Yale University Divinity School (1945-48) in preparation for pastoral ministry—nurturing concern for others—especially the poor, racial minorities, and those in distress, balanced by insight into structural injustice and the importance of finding the common good.
  • Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland (1955), offering an opportunity to live in the Seventeenth Century and study the beginnings of Protestantism, a vantage point from which to understand both evils done in the name of religion, and its saving power to create communities of justice, peace, and love.
  • Post-Doctoral study at Harvard University as a Visiting Scholar for two years to study global peace and justice, articulating a global ethic and creating global structures that support peace and prosperity for all, with specific emphasis on creating a global college.  (1963-65)

By August 2024, Bob will celebrate his 100th birthday.  Highlights of his life’s work for peace and justice include:

  • Two plus years in the U.S. Naval Reserve as a chaplain in training during World War II.  Spared the battle and inspired by the biblical insight that “to whom much is given, much is required.”  Bob committed his life to working for peace and justice.
  • Traveled to Washington, D.C. for the first time (1948) to lobby for civilian control of nuclear energy.
  • Served on the Christian Life Commission, the peace and justice arm of the Southern Baptist Convention (1955-1960).  Helped engage and host Martin Luther King Sr. as a keynote preacher at the Convention.
  • Keynote speaker with Martin Luther King, Jr. at Vanderbilt University Divinity School during the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott.
  • Led a preaching mission at First Baptist Church, Clinton, Tennessee, whose high school was the first test case of school integration under Brown vs. Board of Education.  Shaken by the explosion when angry segregationists bombed the school into rubble.  Spoke to teachers and students at an underused school building in Oak Ridge two days later using the title, “Bombs (Oak Ridge) or Brotherhood? (Clinton).”
  • Lost position as Minister of the First Baptist Church, Danville, Virginia (1963) by supporting local black pastors who had organized with Martin Luther King, Jr. to desegregate Danville.  On “Bloody Monday” 230 persons landed in the hospital or in jail.  These experiences help me understand in a vivid way what Martin Luther King Jr, called “the black man’s burden and the white man’s shame.”

After soul-searching, Bob left the pastoral ministry and decided to focus on world peace and cross-cultural understanding.  His near-term objective was to establish an international college as a model for inter-cultural living and learning.

  • Began two-years as a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University, exploring a total immersion approach to global education, designed to meet the challenge of our new age (1963-1965).
  • Served as Visiting Professor of Philosophy of Higher Education at Boston University School of Education for four semesters, then turned down the offer of a permanent position, advocating for reorienting all higher education into an international, cross-cultural model.
  • Held a high-level position in the War on Poverty in the Johnson Administration under Sargent Shriver, then led in desegregating public schools through the U.S. Office of Education, providing vivid insight on how government policy can transform the lives of the poor and neglected.
  • Inspired the Church of the Saviour in Washington, D.C., Gordon Cosby, minister, (60 members and 60 Associate members) to share the challenge of establishing the college of the future after three years of membership.  Worked four years full-time through the church to establish Dag Hammarskjold College. (DHC) (1969-73)
  • Launched DHC at the Waldorf Astoria “Starlight Room” with 300 distinguished guests and speakers including Secretary General of the United Nations, U Thant; U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield; Dr. Glenn Olds, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; Master of Ceremonies, Norman Cousins, President, World Federalist Society and Editor, Saturday Review of Literature; at which I was the featured speaker.
  • Inspired the Rouse Company, developers of Columbia, Maryland to donate their prime property at the heart of their new city—20-acres with an historic Manor House—to be the future campus of DHC. 
  •  As College President, recruited and nurtured a distinguished international faculty and sixty widely diverse top-level international students for each of two alpha years.   Became vividly aware that basic assumptions are not immediately shared among persons of differing cultures, while experiencing the excitement of living together into a shared future.
  • Established a special relationship between DHC and the United Nations, first through Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, and then with Secretary U Thant, who was also an Honorary Board member of DHC.  Set up unique internships for DHC students at U.N. headquarters, engaging U.N. staff in an active dialogue on global education.
  • Raised $1 million that funded the first two alpha years.  The campus property was valued at $3 million.  Arranged a 2-for-1 matching grant program with the Eli Lilly Endowment in which they pledged $4 million, based on the College raising an additional $8 million.  When Mr. Lilly rescinded the grant offer, Landrum Bolling, President of the Endowment, resigned in protest.  The DHC Board of Governors then decided there was insufficient financial support to continue developing the College.
  • Served as Deputy to the Director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in the Smithsonian, organizing evening dialogues and interacting with leading world scholars, corporate executives, and members of Congress—all focused in some way on the quest for world peace and justice.
  • Lobbied the Senate with a colleague, Bryant Wedge, to establish the “George Washington Peace Academy” as an arm of government.  The Peace Academy was to study, develop, and teach peacemaking strategies and conflict resolution skills.  Organized and testified at U.S. Senate Committee hearing and learned the Senate would not vote for a Peace Academy unless pressured by widespread support from citizens.  Began a six-year campaign that enlisted 25,000 citizen lobbyists, leading to a two-year feasibility study, after which Congress authorized The United States Institute of Peace (USIP), fulfilling the dream of patriots from George Washington to the present era (1976-1985).
  • Director of Finance, Democratic National Committee, southeastern United States for the Carter Presidential campaign.  Coordinated with campaign in Atlanta and directed a fund-raising event in Plains, working directly with the Carter family (1976).
  • Led a Sunday School class for young adults, including Chip Carter and his wife, at First Baptist Church, Washington D.C. during the Carter Administration.  Led a world peace group in the church that engaged the President.  Represented the church peace group, with clergy of Islam, Judaism and our minister, Charles Trentham, as we laid hands on the President’s head and prayed for the success of treaty negotiations immediately before he boarded the helicopter to Camp David that led to the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt.
  • Staff Director for a new program in the U.S. Department of State (1976-1980).  Implemented a program that involved frequent travel to Africa to recruit 2,500 students over four years to study in the United States.  Oriented them to the U.S. when they arrived, mentored them during their studies, and made sure they returned safely to their home countries, providing a model for U.S. government support for international education.
  • Associate Director with Director Dr. Alan Geyer, Churches’ Center for Theology and Public Policy, Washington, D.C.  This organization was supported by mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic Churches.  Consulted with and offered guidance to member church leaders on establishing and promoting their public policy positions. (1981-86)
  • Associate Professor of Political Ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary, a school of American University.  For several years, led two one-semester immersion programs per year.  Students interacted with Congress, the White House, the World Bank, lobbying organizations, and other institutions, then examined their experiences from the perspective of Christian Ethics.
  • President of the United Nations Association, National Capitol Area Division, for four years among many years as an active Board member.
  • Member, Commission on Peace, Episcopal Diocese of Washington for six years; authored part of a two-year inquiry and published report titled, “The Nuclear Dilemma.”  Later led a two-year Commission of Inquiry on Peace in Central America titled, “Respect for Dignity: Cost and Promise in Central America.”
  • Chairman of Pax World Service, a foundation with worldwide projects focused on peace and economic development, supported primarily by Dr. Jack Corbett (six years as Chairman, 15 years on the Board).

Bob retired before the turn of the century but remained active as a writer, a volunteer activist in the democratic party, and a lay leader in Christ Church, Alexandria, Virginia, and later in the Falls Church Episcopal where he is still an active member.

Past Publications

  • A Vision of Victory, Broadman Press, 1959.  (a major publisher of religious books and hymnals.)
  • Dag Hammarskjold College, a Proposal.  Self-published in 1968.
  • How the U.S. Economy Functions.  Commissioned by U.S. Information Agency, Agency for International Development, 1981
  • World Economy and World Hunger:  The Response of the Churches, University Publications of America, 1982.
  • The Nuclear Dilemma: A Search for Christian Understanding, Report of the Commission on Peace, Episcopal Diocese of Washington, co-authored following a two-year inquiry, 1985.
  • Respect for Dignity: Cost and Promise in Central America.  Report of the two-year Commission of Inquiry on Peace in Central America I chaired, 1987.
  • Justice for Gays and Lesbians: Crisis and Challenge in the Episcopal Church, Book Surge, self-published, Amazon 2006.
  • A Vision of Victory on Earth, as in Heaven: a 21st Century Commentary on the Book of Revelation, self-published, Flying Swan Publishing, Amazon 2013.
  • Citizen’s Guide to Health Care Reform, Expanding Coverage and Saving Lives while Containing Costs, self-published, Flying Swan Publications, 2014.
  • The Affordable Care Act is Working!  A Special Report on Cost Savings, self-published, Create Space, Amazon, 2016.