Distinguished Faculty Awards, 2012-13

On Saturday, May 18, at Gordon’s 121st Commencement ceremony, provost Janel Curry recognized professor of recreation and leisure studies Valerie Gin and assistant professor of philosophy Brian Glenney as this year’s recipients of the Distinguished Faculty Awards. The Distinguished Faculty Awards are given annually to one senior and one junior full-time faculty member in recognition of excellence in teaching, substantial scholarly and professional achievement, and notable service to the Gordon community. Upon being nominated by the faculty and members of the graduating class, the final recipients of the award are chosen by a committee comprised of Distinguished Faculty Award winners from the previous three years and the provost.

Said Provost Curry of Senior Distinguished Faculty Award winner Valerie Gin, “The Senior Distinguished Faculty Award recipient can be found almost anywhere in the world–mentoring others in places as far-ranging as South Africa or China. Beyond cultural boundary crossings, she has also been exploring the boundaries of gender and sport, and is presently working on a novel–collaboratively–around the topic of Title IX.”

Of Junior Distinguished Faculty Award winner Brian Glenney, she noted, “The Junior Distinguished Faculty Award winner also crosses boundaries–especially disciplinary boundaries. I believe our conversations this year have ranged from: perception of place, to the sovereignty of God and cultural landscapes, to randomness in nature, to graffiti art, and finally, to the construction of shelves in my house–from the abstract to the concrete and everything in between. Often I forget what department he actually belongs to because his work is so creatively cross-cutting.”

Writing the Textbook for the Environment

Dick Wright and Dorothy Boorse recently celebrated the release of their co-authored text with students at Gordon.

These past several months, Dorothy Boorse, professor of biology, hasn’t been in the thick of the marshes as much as usual. Instead, she’s been in the thick of words, writing and editing a new edition of a textbook on the environment.  Boorse co-authored the environmental science text with her own former Gordon professor and mentor, Dick Wright, who has worked on several editions of the text for the past twenty years. This was his last as he passed on the baton to Boorse. One conference colleague once told Boorse that, “Dick Wright is the best marine scientist I’ve ever known.” Boorse said she’s always found it “a joy and an honor” to work with Wright.

Here’s how the publisher (Pearson Higher Ed) describes the text: “With dramatically revised illustrations, the Twelfth Edition of Environmental Science: Toward a Sustainable Future is even more student-friendly while retaining the currency and accuracy that has made Wright/Boorse a best seller. The text and media program continue to help students understand the science behind environmental issues and what they can do to build a more sustainable future, with further exploration of the hallmark core themes: Science, Sustainability, and Stewardship.”

Thinking About the Flesh-and-Blood Jesus

New Testament scholar and theologian Scot McKnight used to ask his students if they thought Jesus made mistakes learning Hebrew or mathematics or Israelite history. “The question, I learned, was a good way to get students to think about the humanity of Jesus.” Those discussions also confirmed for him that many Christians did not know how to think of Jesus in human terms, which is also why McKnight has endorsed and written the introduction for the second edition of, Flesh-and-Blood Jesus: Learning to Be Fully Human,” by Dan Russ, academic dean. 

The book’s new and updated edition—which was recently released—includes McKnight’s introduction, a new chapter on Jesus and money, and many revised and expanded ideas, sentences, paragraphs and chapters, based in part on feedback Russ received from readers.

In addition to exploring various ways the Son of Man lived as a human, Russ also writes about the importance and power of money in the life of Jesus and our own lives. “(This) was a much needed addition (in the book), especially when considering the influence of today’s culture of materialism. We need to see how Christ himself responded to the challenges money can present.”  Flesh-and-Blood Jesus was first published in 2008, and is one of many published works by Russ .

Ends and Beginnings—and the In Betweens

Tim Sherratt

As another semester comes to a close, Timothy Sherratt, professor of political science, reflects on a year filled with challenges and questions, both essential elements in the process of learning—and living. (His essay will appear in the upcoming edition of Capital Commentary published by the Center for Public Justice.)

At the Corner of Need and Calling

By Timothy Sherratt 

The academic year is ending. In the first year seminar course I teach, the spring semester picked up where the fall had left off, moving from character and the good life to consideration of community and justice. Students embarked on service projects in the City of Lynn, near in miles but far in cultural and economic distance.

The political backdrop to the semester saw the President inaugurated for a second term, sandwiched between the averted fiscal cliff and the looming sequester. Hopeful signs accompanied a renewed debate on firearms, occasioned by the atrocity at Sandy Hook, and on immigration, occasioned by predictions of electoral extinction for the G.O.P.

The semester ends on notes of tragedy and terror. Bombings at the Boston marathon. A political rather than a popular failure to take commonsense steps to restrict gun violence, even as some in Congress excoriate federal agencies for failing to intercept the makers of an IED. Closer to home, the community memorializes a freshman killed in a traffic accident and remembers a beloved professor taken by a heart attack at the peak of his powers. Referencing these events, one student declared with refreshing transparency, “Transience is suddenly becoming a very real issue.”

A common theme emerges in my students’ final papers. There is so much injustice and so much need. Am I in the right place, going to college? What is God calling me to do? All this time spent equipping; shouldn’t I be doing?

There are, I respond, certain problems with this view. The need is great, but it lies deeper and is more varied than the most visibly urgent concerns. Short-term missions and direct aid have their place. But have we asked ourselves how much difference good government could make in most of the places where the aid is destined?

Besides this, education cannot be reduced to equipping. To the Christian, the mind is not a luxury made available only to an elite but is instead integral to human living, securing our health in the largest sense against the reductionists of our age. It is the ballast that holds us fast against what George Steiner memorably termed, “the detergent tide of social conformity.”

But I sympathize with these nineteen-year-olds. Theirs are some of the right questions. The Christian life ought to be lived at the intersection of Need and Calling. Living it there creates an appropriate tension in a fallen world, one that helps us examine our vocations for evidence of cynicism or indulged self-interest. Continue reading