STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 08/19/2008
Our Faculty, Our DNA
by R. Judson Carlberg, President
It is obvious to alumni who have recently stepped on Gordon's campus that we have enjoyed unprecedented growth in our facilities over the past 15 years. What is much less obvious, though equally important, is the simultaneous growth in our faculty, which has increased by 30 percent during that time--from 70 to 100 full-time members, plus many adjunct and part-time faculty.
But mere numbers don't begin to tell our faculty's story. The faculty at Gordon have always been the true DNA, or essential building blocks of the College. This issue of STILLPOINT captures some of their hallmarks for you. For example, John Mason, recently retired professor of economics, has long embodied the best traits of our faculty. As colleague Stephen Smith notes, John has had high standards for faculty teaching and professional engagement, high expectations for students, and a careful, thoughtful commitment to exploring how his discipline of economics might help Gordon students "be better stewards, better citizens, and better able to pursue their callings and vocations. John Mason connects with his students as an intellectual and spiritual father. Students listen to him, share their joys and heartbreaks, and go to him for personal advice and prayer." Dr. Mason's tenure of nearly 40 years is indicative of the stability at our faculty's core. And he is eminently worthy of the John D. Mason Scholar Award, established by alumni, colleagues and friends to encourage students to pair Christian ethical reflection with economic analysis.
Many other Gordon faculty are also bringing careful scholarship to bear on real-world issues. For example, the research of Assistant Professor of Political Studies Ruth Melkonian-Hoover and her scholar husband is helping to develop a picture of Latin American evangelicals that goes well beyond stereotypes and glib generalizations. Also in this issue are snapshots of significant books recently written by English, history, foreign language, and biblical and theological studies faculty as well as by staff members of the Center for Christian Studies. This growing body of scholarship reflects the fruitfulness of Gordon's faculty.
Our faculty is also distinguished by a lively diversity of personalities and perspectives. They do not hole up in their offices and labs and hide behind their academic work, as substantive as it is. Rather, they are open and available in ways that enrich our students' lives, as you will see in "Visions and Revisions" by Norman Jones, associate professor of theatre arts. In this moving adaptation of Norm's recent chapel talk, he tells of the spiritual and emotional journey that has paralleled the progressive loss of his eyesight to retinitis pigmentosa.
Norm's colleague, Jeff Miller, who chairs the Theatre Arts Department, also has a voice in this issue. "A Dream Sabbatical" contains excerpts from Jeff's running account of his sabbatical at New York's Lincoln Center Theater. More than 46,000 words in all, this blog made it possible for fellow faculty to look behind the scenes and reflect on Jeff's experiences along with him.
Our students are fortunate to hear such exuberant, faithful, personal and, at times, poignant voices. In fact, the investment of our faculty and staff in our students' lives is so fruitful it reminds me of the rich, organic image of the vine and branches from the 15th chapter of St. John's Gospel (Phillips): Jesus says, "If you live your life in me, and my words live in your hearts, you can ask for whatever you like and it will come true for you. This is how my Father will be glorified--in your becoming fruitful. Go and bear fruit that will be lasting."