Highlights of the report sent to the faculty and staff on February 7, 2011.
ACTUALLY, A. J. GORDON WAS BORN IN A LEAP YEAR . . .
Calling an opera The Pirates of Penzance is like announcing that the next Super Bowl will be in Topsfield. In the late nineteenth century Penzance was little more than a sleepy harbor town, and the hint that it could be a haven for high-stakes privateers assured the audience that they were in for a farce. But Gilbert and Sullivan had their own inside joke as well: the pirates they feared most were not seafaring buccaneers but American bootleggers who sold unlicensed editions of the composers' songs before they were performed in America. So they decided to beat the Americans at their own game and to debut this opera in New York City, where they published the songs themselves nearly four months before their pirates appeared on a London stage.
Within a decade of that debut, Robert Louis Stevenson had published Treasure Island and his fellow Scot A. J. Gordon had started a missionary training institute in Boston. A.J. Gordon, I understand, had a sense of humor, so he might have enjoyed watching the pirates tread down the aisle of his Memorial Chapel just over a week ago, courtesy of Jeff Miller (director) and Michael Monroe (music director), as well as a high-spirited cast and production team. After all, Rev. Gordon did occasionally preach that "pirate sin" could lead to ill health. Many thanks to the full team and cast of Pirates for a rousing show during A. J.'s 175th year, all the more impressive because they had to pull it all together in just a few weeks after the start of the new year.
Under the guidance of Jo Kadlecek, we have developed a new page for the Gordon website entitled Faculty Central that will spotlight new publications, travel to conferences, research discoveries, special presentations and the like. Parents, alums, and other interested parties will be able to consult the site to identify when and where faculty will be speaking, as well as to keep tabs on their latest work. The site will also list the Faith + Ideas = columns, and provide links to online publications, sources and announcements.
If you are heading out of town for a conference or lecture, or want to make us aware of your recent work, please give Jo a call (4752) or send her an email. The current Faculty Central highlights some international appearances of our faculty, including Lauren Swayne Barthold in Dublin, Ireland, Irv Levy in Paris, France, and David Wick in Athens, Greece; other pages summarize recent Faculty Forums, such as Tanja Butler's recent talk on "The Hospitality of God: An Artist's Analysis of Devotional Imagery" (pictured here is Tanja's 2005 image of the angelic visits to Abraham and Sarah).
LA VIDA'S 40TH ANNIVERSARY
During the fall Homecoming, the College saluted the 40th anniversary of La Vida with a banquet and celebratory program. Originally born out of Young Life, La Vida officially became a Gordon program in 1978. For his faithful dedication to the program for over 30 of those years, we honored Rich Obenschain with an engraved canoe paddle--a match, so to speak, for the canoe that was given to him at his wedding. There was time for many stories and perhaps a few "stretchers." Did Rich actually teach his dog Klondike to howl by making him watch the movie White Fang?
During some summers I have seen my own children flying like squirrels on the high wires just outside of Frost, or pulling ropes on the belay teams at La Vida's Adventure Camp. More importantly, I have seen just how much La Vida has helped their spiritual lives to find wings. Whether as a day camp experience for middle school children or an expedition into the Adirondacks for new students, La Vida has left an indelible print on many lives, fostering confidence, a thirst for discovery, a joy in nature, and a capacity to lead. So, many congratulations to Rich, as well as to Peggy Hothem,Val Gin, Eric Wilder, Jennifer Memmen, Nate Hausman, Matt Loy and the many people who have served La Vida over the last several years.
So, many congratulations to Rich, as well as to Peggy Hothem,Val Gin, Eric Wilder, Jennifer Memmen, Nate Hausman, Matt Loy and the many people who have served La Vida over the last several years.
NEW SPACE FOR LA VIDA
At the banquet we announced that Gordon College will seek funding to build La Vida an indoor activity space on the campus, adjacent to the Center for Balance, Mobility and Wellness. The space is needed for so many aspects of La Vida, including its GORP, Discovery and spring Expedition programs. It will also be valuable for our summer Adventure Camps, which served over 580 young persons last summer, more than twice the enrollment of 2005. With its own indoor space, La Vida will also be able to offer more seminars and workshops on outdoor education and leadership development. The indoor facility will also provide a safe and dry area during rainy or cold weather.
Several faculty have notified us recently of their newest scholarly work. Some of the themes include religiosity and post-college stress (Kaye Cook), international scholars and the Gospel of John (Steve Hunt), the Renaissance Bottega (John Skillen), faith and business (Kent Seibert), new coordinations for language (Bert Hodges), elementary and secondary school singing (Ken Phillips and Sandy Doneski), synesthesia (Bryan Auday), Adam Smith and the "external world" (Brian Glenney), and several others. Check out a full list of recent faculty articles and presentations.
GRAEME BIRD AND HOMER
Harvard University Press has published Multitexuality in the Homeric Illiad: The Witness of Ptolemaic Papyri, by Graeme Bird, associate professor of linguistics and classics. Graeme looks at several fragmentary papyri from the three centuries before Christ, the oldest surviving texts of The Iliad. While many scholars have dismissed these papyri as "eccentric" because they differ from the standard publications of the epic poem, Graeme argues that they are authentic variations, reflective of the poem's long history as an oral tradition passed among generations. Several of us remember Graeme's Faculty Forum a few years ago when he compared Homer's Illiad to jazz, as each reciter of the ancient poem would adapt lines and pacing to fit their own tone and themes.
LAUREN BARTHOLD AND GADAMER
Last year Lexington Press released Lauren Swayne Barthold's book Gadamer's Dialectical Hermeneutics, a study of the German continental philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer. An associate professor of philosophy, Barthold explores Gadamer's writing on Plato and Aristotle, and its implications for Gadamer's own thoughts on the role of the dialectic in understanding. She focuses on Gadamer's interest in recovering the practical nature of philosophy, examining the roles of truth, good, practice and theory.
SPIRITUAL LIFE GROUPS
Over the past couple years Laurie Truschel, director of student ministries, has been encouraging several small group programs for students; this semester, in fact, there are 25 "spiritual life groups," with 6-10 students meeting together for a book study and conversation. Eight faculty and staff members--Jo Kadlecek, Natalie Ferjulian, Nate Baxter, James Arcadi, Emmanuelle Vanborre, Sarah Kate Smith, Katie Johnson and Laurie herself--are among the leaders. A sampling of the books and topics they are exploring: The Prodigal God, by Tim Keller; Knowing God, by J.I. Packer; The Fabric of Faithfulness, by Steve Garber; Creation Regained, by Al Wolters; Desperate Women of the Bible, by Jo Kadlecek; and book studies of Genesis, I John, I and II Peter, Ephesians, John and James.
EMMANUELLE VANBORRE, MALRAUX, AND CAMUS
Emmanuelle Vanborre, assistant professor of French, has published a study of authors André Malraux and Albert Camus (Lectures blanchotiennes de Malraux et Camus. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2010). Drawing upon the theory of Maurice Blanchot, Emmanuelle reassesses Malraux's and Camus's themes of absence and death, offering new shades of interpretations on writers who have been viewed previously primarily through the lens of existentialism.
DAVID MATHEWSON AND REVELATION
David Mathewson, associate professor of biblical studies, has just written Verbal Aspect in the Book of Revelation, part of the Linguistic Biblical Studies series published by Brill in the Netherlands. Verb tenses in the final book of the Bible have been a subject of much scrutiny and debate, as scholars have generally argued that the "odd" use of verb tenses in Revelation shows the semitic influence from Hebrew. But Dave argues that the verb usage was consistent with an "acceptable first-century Greek," which implies that John's Apocalypse was written for the full Greco-Roman world where the church was expanding.
JO KADLECEK AND HOPE
Jo Kadlecek, senior writer in the Office of College Communication, recently published Desperate Faith: Stories of Hope from the Resurrection. She explores the days that Jesus spent on earth after the resurrection, considering how and why Jesus used the disciples who ran the other way after his resurrection to become the pillars of the Christian faith.
ELAINE PHILLIPS AND ESTHER
Elaine Phillips, professor of biblical studies, recently completed a book-length commentary on Esther, which is included in The Expositor's Bible Commentary, edited by Trevor Longmann III and David Garland. Elaine explicates the "Scroll (Megillah) of Esther," describing it as a story that can be "bitingly sarcastic" and "horrifyingly ominous," as well as "brimming with ambiguity at every turn." She explores its themes, structure, literary genre, and questions of authorship, as well as contemporary implications, including the challenges of "living faithfully in systems that may be significantly at odds with our faith traditions."
Last semester two seniors--Nicole Naude and Hannah Schundler--approached me with the idea of doing a special senior CCC seminar. Now, in their final semester at Gordon, they were eager to replicate something of that CCC experience from their first year: a small, interdisciplinary group of students reading interesting texts and wrestling with major issues. Over the years, I have heard several students say that they wished they could take CCC (or TGC, as we call it now) over again, especially now that their questions are tougher, their intellectual curiosity greater, and their search for a sense of calling and vocation even more pressing.
Nicole and Hannah have recruited a group of 16 seniors who will be meeting with me on Monday nights. We hope that this is an occasion when they will be free to ask some of the big questions that emerged in the last four years--questions about faith and reason, calling and purpose, and about the points of friction within their intellectual and spiritual journeys.
We kicked it off last Monday with a conversation about C.S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces, and we will be moving next to Chris Smith's work on "emerging adults." This semester's seminar is a pilot: if it is successful, it may become one of the regular Christian Life and Worship options for seniors during their final months at Gordon.
As Cliff Hersey recently reported, Gordon had five students enrolled in the CCCU's Middle East Studies Program in Cairo this term, yet all of the students have been relocated to Turkey, where they will remain indefinitely until the political situation becomes clearer. I was actually scheduled to fly to Egypt later this month as part of the team that evaluates the program, but not surprisingly that trip has been postponed indefinitely.
While we watch news in Egypt, there are several other international endeavors underway. John Skillen is is looking for a new residential setting for our students in Orvieto, Italy, and the Global Education Office is doing the groundwork for the new semester in Romania. Recruitment is still ongoing for our first summer institute in Salzburg, Austria, developed by Gregor Thuswaldner and Tom and Susan Brooks. In January, Stephen Smith, Dan Tymann and Alice Tsang spent ten days in Hong Kong, visiting universities and schools that might be interested in sending students to Gordon.
MINISTRY AND SERVICE ENDEAVORS
Under the guidance of Laura Carmer, the Chapel Office is sponsoring several international ministry and service trips this spring and summer. During the spring break, there will be trips to Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, along with domestic service trips to Detroit, Mississippi, Yakama Native American Reservation, and a refugee project centered in Portland, Maine. The Summer Missions Program will sponsor trips to Uganda, Sri Lanka, India and Swaziland. Last year we had good-sized contingents go several places, including Mexico (28 students), Haiti (19), Nicaragua (13) and the Dominican Republic (10).
OLD TOWN HALL
A couple years ago, Gordon was awarded the responsibility for managing Old Town Hall in Salem, a historic building dating from 1816-1817, designed in part by Charles Bulfinch. On the upper floor, long used as a public hall, Gordon's History Alive program has been performing Cry Innocent for over two decades. This spring the College has offered a special lecture series on New England history, and the opening address by historian Richard Francis—on repentant witchcraft judge Samuel Sewall—was broadcast by CSPAN.
Now we are in the process of transforming the lower floor, originally used as a public market, into a museum of public history. David Goss, Kristina Stevick and Cliff Hersey are collaborating with Salem city officials in the design and fundraising for the project. The museum is another way that Gordon's Institute for Public History has been building a strong rapport between the College and the Salem community.
ACADEMIC UPDATES . . . BY THE NUMBERS
Quick update on several academic matters, by way of some numbers:
Number of departments undergoing reviews this spring: Biology, Registrar, and Library.
Number of faculty searches underway: Biology, Biblical Studies & Christian Ministries, Accounting (2), Finance, English, and Education.
Total courses last year enrolling over 50 students (3% of the classes).
Ted Hildebrandt (1,460) and Dave Mathewson (1,048) taught the most credit hours.
Total number of students in past five years who have graduated in 3 years.
Number of undergraduates who graduated with honors last spring (34%).
14% were "summa cum laude."
Gordon students from west of the Mississippi (about 8% of student body).
Number of psychology majors last year, the first year in more than a decade when English was not at the top of the list (English: 150, Communication Arts: 147, Business Administration: 122, Biology: 92).
Credit hours taught by part-time faculty last year (24% of total).