Dr. James Drane was a fixture on Edinboro’s campus from his arrival in the 1960s until his passing in April 2023.

Thanks to an Edinboro student-artist and team of art faculty supervisors, there is now a permanent fixture on campus dedicated to his commitment to Edinboro and the field of Bioethics.

Olivia Sutton, an undergraduate illustration student, unveiled her portrait of Dr. Drane Thursday in the Benjamin Wiley Arts and Sciences Center. Commissioned by Dr. Kia Aramesh, director of the James F. Drane Bioethics Institute, and funded by a collective of donors and the institute, the portrait is Sutton’s first professional commission as an artist.

Edinboro art faculty members Karen Ernst, Michelle Vitali and Lisa Austin provided direction and supplies to assist Sutton with the project. Ernst framed the portrait, while Vitali provided supervision and supplies and Austin provided her gallery expertise.

Dr. James Drane | Ilustration by Olivia Sutton

“What I admired most about Jim, beyond his global influence as a lauded ethicist, was his rock-solid core of moral integrity,” Vitali said. “More than almost anyone I’ve met, he embodied a devotion to shared community by joyfully welcoming the marginalized and seeking to understand those whose viewpoints differed.”

Vitali noted that the Edinboro community – including his former students, loving visitors and fellow faculty members – has rallied to keep Drane’s memory alive.

“While Jim would certainly have demurred at the notion of a portrait, we all understood he loved students dearly and would do anything to uplift them,” she said. “So the decision was made to have a student paint the portrait.”

The oldest of 10 children in a poor family in Chester, Pa., Dr. Drane felt a calling to the priesthood. He received his religious education at St. John’s Seminary in Little Rock, Ark., and a Theology degree from the Gregorian University in Rome. After being ordained as a Catholic priest, Drane advanced his education at Middlebury College, where he received a degree in Romance languages before earning his Ph.D. at the University of Madrid.

When he arrived at PennWest Edinboro in 1969, he collaborated with the then university president to establish the Bioethics Institute. Although no longer a cleric, Dr. Drane has never lost his passion for continuing his ministry in bioethics. He traveled to Central and South America on behalf of the World Health Organization to monitor research being done on human subjects.

In 2002, he was named one of the founders of the discipline of Bioethics at The International Bioethics Conference in Brasilia, Brazil. Dr. Drane has authored 20 books on bioethics and the conflicts and issues that can arise when medicine collides with ethical issues.