Disciples Divinity House of the University of Chicago
Ratliff, Battle and Watkins Join Board
Three new persons have been elected to the Board of Trustees this year. They are: Harry K. Ratliff, a Vice-President at Merrill Lynch from the St. Louis area, Constance U. Battle, a physician and educator from Potomac, Maryland, and Charles D. Watkins, Senior Pastor of Central Christian Church in Decatur, Illinois.
Board President Amy A. Northcutt commented, “We are grateful for the commitment each new trustee has made and for the expertise and insight they bring to our shared work.”
Harry Ratliff joined the Board in October and serves on its Finance Committee. He is an elder of Centennial Christian Church in St. Louis and a trustee of the Pension Fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). For a number of years he has been the investment advisor for the denomination’s Division of Higher Education.
He completed his undergraduate work at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and did graduate work in finance at Webster University. He began his business career in 1969 while studying at UMST as co-founder of The 420 Corporation, an advertising and sales promotion firm. In 1982 he joined the Clayton, Missouri, office of Merrill Lynch, where he is currently Vice President and Senior Financial Advisor.
Mr. Ratliff is an active volunteer in the St. Louis community, and has served on numerous local, state, and national nonprofit boards, including the Mid- County YMCA, the American Diabetes Association, Tougaloo College and the People’s Health Center. He is currently serving on the board of the Grace Hill Settlement House and an active member of FOCUS St. Louis, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the Investment Management Consultants Association, and the National Black MBA Association.
He is married to Deborah L. Martin- Ratliff, who is a Certified Adult Nurse Practitioner in Oncology. They have two adult children, Geoffrey and Jennifer.
Constance Urciolo Battle, MD, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics who has been widely recognized for her community service as well as for her expertise in children with disabilities, women in medicine, and community health. She holds clinical teaching appointments at The George Washington University School of Medicine and the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. She previously served as Executive Director of the Foundation for National Institutes of Health and as Executive Director of the National Museum for Women in the Arts.
Dr. Battle came to know Disciples House through alumnus Arthur Azlein. They worked together for many years at the Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, D.C. He was President of its Board of Directors and the Senior Minister of the neighboring Michigan Park Christian Church when she came to the Hospital as its Medical Director in 1973. She continued to lead the Hospital until 1995, having also become Chief Executive Officer in 1977 and then President of the Medical Staff.
It was at the Azlein home where Dean Culp first met Constance Battle. They became better acquainted when Dr. Battle served as the personal representative of the Azlein estate, of which Disciples House was the primary beneficiary.
Dr. Battle has been inducted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame, and, in 1993, was named “Washingtonian of the Year.” She has received numerous high honors from Trinity College, where she earned her undergraduate degree, from The George Washington University, where she completed medical school and has also served as a University Trustee and as President of the Medical School Alumni Association, and from the American Medical Women’s Association, which she served as president.
An active Roman Catholic, Dr. Battle is a member of the Order of Malta and of the John Carroll Society. She is the mother of three adult children: Ursula, Bill, and Christopher.
Charles D. Watkins is the Senior Pastor of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Decatur, Illinois, where he has served since 1992. It is his third long pastorate. He was Senior Pastor of First Christian Church in Owensboro, Kentucky, from 1981-92, and Pastor of First Christian Church in Carbondale, Illinois, from 1970-81.
Mr. Watkins earned the Master of Divinity and Master of Sacred Theology degrees from Yale University. He was president of the Campbell Club at Yale. He was ordained in his home state of Texas in 1969.
In 1968 he married Jane Combs, another Yale Divinity student. They have an adult son, Benjamin.
Mr. Watkins’s ministry has included service to regional, general, and ecumenical church organizations. He chaired the Regional Minister Search Committee for the Christian Church in Illinois and Wisconsin in 1998. He was a member of the Board of Directors of Church Extension. From 1987-2000, he was member of the Association of Disciples Pastors for Theological Discussion.
He chaired the Kentucky region’s Ecumenical Concerns Committee for 6 years, served as a representative to the Kentucky Council of Churches, and was Moderator of the Kentucky Commission on United Ministries in Higher Education. He also chaired the United Commission on Christian Campus Ministries in Illinois. He was the founding president of the Carbondale Interchurch Council.
Mr. Watkins’ civic leadership includes work with the Red Cross, hospitals, and in human relations. He was a city councilman in Carbondale, Illinois. Since 1993, he has been a member of the Board of Directors of Webster-Cantrell Hall.
Watkins, Battle, and Ratliff join a twenty-one member Board of Trustees – a group of interesting, accomplished, diverse persons who are deeply committed to ensuring the strongest possible preparation for ministry, scholarship, and leadership. The Board provides fiduciary oversight for DDH’s resources and mission. Part of their meetings are devoted to studying challenges to and envisioning opportunities for leadership through Disciples House.