Dr. Puffenberger

With over 32 years of teaching experience at Elizabethtown College, Dr. William Puffenberger maintained his presence with the donation of over 200 religious artifacts. Puffenberger began his journey with Elizabethtown College in the fall of 1967 after he had made a major change in his life. Prior to working at Elizabethtown College, Puffenberger went to Bridgewater College in Virginia and became an ordained in the Church of the Brethren. After realizing that he was not meant to stay in the in the ministry, Puffenberger and his wife, Kitty moved to Boston, where he studied at Boston University and Harvard University to receive his doctorate degree. 

Once Dr. Puffenberger started teaching at Elizabethtown College in 1967, he designed courses that focused on all of the religions of the world. Originally, he taught one world religions course that covered up to 20 religions. With too much to fit into one course, he split it into separate classes focusing on Western and Eastern religions. In addition to creating new classes at Elizabethtown College, Puffenberger also took his students on trips to many religious and cultural sites which incorporated experiences for the department of religious studies and visuals into the curriculum that Puffenberger taught in his courses. He also taught courses in ethics, using his knowledge of moral development through his study of religion. 

In 1978, Dr. Puffenberger spent a sabbatical leave in India. It was during this trip Puffenberger began collecting religious artifacts. He made many more trips to India, China, and Japan in the subsequent years and continued to build his collection of artifacts. Puffenberger used his continually growing collection in the classrooms, showing students how these relics would be used in religious ceremonies. After retiring from his position as the Professor of Religion Emeritus in 1999, Puffenberger donated his collection of artifacts to the college in hopes that other professors and students will use the collection for learning about world religions. Even after retirement, Puffenberger stayed close by, currently residing at the Masonic Village in Elizabethtown, PA with his wife, Kitty. They both continue to fuel their wanderlust by traveling to many countries throughout the recent years. Dr. Puffenberger's contribution to Elizabethtown College will always be greatly appreciated and never forgotten. 

Above is a video created by the Religious Studies Department, which captured the migration of the Puffenberger collection to Elizabethtown College in 2016.


"Learning for a Living", Village Voice, accessed May 22, 2018.