Highlights of December reports to the trustees and the College community.
TENURE FOR RINI COBBEY
I am pleased to announce that the Board of Trustees has voted to grant tenure to Catherine "Rini" Cobbey, associate professor of Communication Arts. As part of her process of pursuing a doctorate at the University of Connecticut, Rini has written a dissertation on marriages in Indian film, which her advisor called "the best dissertation that I have been involved with in any capacity." Rini has also developed expertise in Middle Eastern cinema, and has a new chapter coming out in a volume by the University of Texas Press. She has served many years previously as the chair of the Communication Arts Department and will chair the Core Committee in the spring. By her own report, she teaches and writes about "areas arguably neglected by the contemporary church," but is committed to exploring how language can be used to engage the world "redemptively, creatively" in the midst of "the digital media and globalization revolutions."
Congratulations to the following faculty who were approved for promotion by the Board of Trustees:
Jennifer Hevelone-Harper (professor of history, pictured on right), Tal Howard (professor of history), Daniel Johnson (professor of sociology), Norm Jones (professor of theatre), Ruth Melkonian-Hoover (associate professor of political science), and Priscilla Nelson (associate professor of education).
POSTCOLONIAL THEOLOGY ROUNDTABLE
The Center for Christian Studies recently hosted a conference, or a three-day "roundtable," on postcolonial theology, featuring Mabiala Kenzo (pictured right) and Brian McLaren. The participants in the postcolonial discussion, including former Gordon professor Nick Rowe as well as Greg Carmer and Judith Oleson, will produce a volume of essays for publication. In many speeches and talks, Kenzo has stressed that the Africa church has reached a crossroads, where it is poised to be a major force in the global village, but needs the courage to challenge some of the assumptions of modernist Western theology that came of age during a colonial era. He has noted the attractiveness of a "precolonial" vision of African culture, but argues instead that a Christian perspective can help Africans integrate who they currently are (for instance, Congolese, Christian, technologically trained, globally aware) in becoming "new creatures in Christ" in a postmodern and postcolonial era.
Under the guidance of Greg and Laura Carmer, the 2010 cohort of Elijah Project participants undertook a variety of summer internships, including work with the Lakota people in North Dakota, a medical internship in Manhattan, language translation in Papua, New Guinea, development work in Bangalore, India, bush clinics in Togo, school development in Kenya, and wilderness guide work in Romania. As part of the project, students are now completing their post-service course on "Vocation, Discernment, Decision-Making and the Call of God"
PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING NOVELIST AT GORDON
Just before Thanksgiving Gordon hosted Pulitzer Prize-winning author Paul Harding for the fifth annual Community Read event, a joint effort with the Hamilton-Wenham Library. Harding discussed his novel Tinkers, a story about a clock repairman in Wenham, before a large crowd of Gordon community members and local residents. Along with doing several readings from the book, he spoke about his intuitive reshuffling of passages in the narrative and described some of the aftermath of winning the Pulitzer for his first novel. A former drummer in a band, Harding observed that “our reputation in Boston was that we sounded like The Who . . . I write what I call lyrical prose. It comes from being a drummer. It comes from thinking about cadence and rhythm and moving to different time signatures." Harding also talked about the influence of the theology of Karl Barth and the religious views of his mentor, Marilyne Robinson, on his work.
VISIT TO NEWSEUM
In early November trustees David and Suzy Young hosted a group of journalism and political science students at the Newseum in Washington D.C. Joined by Sandy Butters, Jan Carlberg, Jo Kadlecek, Tim Sherratt, several Gordon alums, and my son Bradford and me, the students enjoyed a private discussion with David Young and Shelby Coffey, former LA Times editor and current trustee of the Newseum.
The men’s soccer team very narrowly missed claiming the title of The Commonwealth Coast Conference, losing 3-1 on penalty kicks to Nichols College in the final. The teams went to penalty kicks after completing two overtimes still knotted at 1-1. Officially, this championship game was a “tie,” which means that Gordon finishes the season at 10-4-6 with an unbeaten record in its last 10 games. Congratulations to Coach Jake DeClute and his team on a fine season.
PRAYER AND RELATIONSHIPS
On November 9 the College observed its annual Day of Prayer. The events consisted of a number of prayer opportunities, including Orthodox matins, an Anglican Eucharist, and Catholic vespers. Several of the activities including singing as a form of prayer. An all-campus service focused on Psalm 95, and numerous opportunities for students to pray with faculty members and their resident hall mates. With the help of a grant from the Relationship Enrichment Center, the Chapel Office and Center for Student Development sponsored a weekend retreat for engaged and recently married student couples. Sixteen couples attended.
YOUTH MINISTRY SYMPOSIUM
The Christian Ministries faculty recently hosted the 2010 Youth Ministry Symposium, which focused primarily on the topic of adolescents’ faith after high school. The event brought over 180 youth ministers and guests to campus from New England and as far away as Florida and Mississippi. The plenary speaker was Cheryl Crawford, a Gordon alum and currently a professor at Azusa Pacific University.
COLLEGE COMMUNICATION INITIATIVES
In the past several months, as we have waited for the arrival of a new vice president for strategic communication, I have enjoyed working with the Office of College Communication on several projects, including the use of “Google analytics” to assess the scope of readership for our electronic publications. Early on, we set several priority themes for the year, and the Office has worked much more closely with the academic departments, Church Relations, Athletics, and Admissions to gather the examples and stories that enable us to tell our institutional tale more robustly. We are seeking to craft different electronic publications for different audiences, and linking them to Facebook and social media sources.
The look and function of the homepage was substantially redesigned for this fall, and we now have an editor and some governing principles to insure that the aesthetics and content of the page more consistently and compellingly underscore our mission and values.