Member Profile: Ron Gorny

Winter 2010–11

While Ron Gorny, the University of Chicago PBK liaison on our Executive Board, has an innocuous enough job title of Research Associate at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, his “research” includes being the Project Director of The Alishar Regional Project, directing an archeological excavation team which has, for nearly every year since 1993, spent 6 to 12 weeks of excavation at Cadir Höyük in central Turkey.

Ron won a Fulbright Fellowship in 1984 to pursue his dissertation research, and that opportunity then led to a concession from the Turkish government for the excavations at Cadir Höyük.

Ron has always had a love of antiquity, reading Homer and other Greek heroes since the age of ten and studying Greek and Hebrew in college at Southwest Missouri State University where he received a B.A. in antiquities (with a double major in film and cinema).

Besides his love of antiquity, Ron has always shown a strong passion for his church and issues of social justice. In fact, he dropped out of college after his sophomore year and served as a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. During that time, he worked as a supervisor in Chicago with Teen Challenge, an inner city program for young people involved with gangs and drugs. Ron also helped pioneer a church in Lansing, Illinois, where he met and married his wife, Julie.

In his spare time, he works with street gangs through the Willow Creek Community Church and nurtures the development of Crossfire, an organization that uses a holistic approach to help inner city youth get out of gangs, encourage education, point them towards job training opportunities, help them locate housing, and encourage both social and spiritual growth. The goal is to give hope to a marginalized segment of society with little or no hope and to help these individuals discover ways of becoming more productive citizens living better and more fulfilling lives.

Ron joined our Phi Beta Kappa Board because he felt that it would help him model what it takes to make a difference, to have an impact on those around you, both in college and in the world after graduation. While his key demonstrates his academic achievements, his concern for all young people, whether college students or inner-city gang members provides a thought-provoking example of social and spiritual engagement from a multidimensional PBK key holder.