Education, at its best, often allows you different ways of travel. Sometimes it is like a long bicycle ride: you slow down and get away from the highways to look more carefully around you. At other times, education can be like flight, a chance to glide above the fields and look toward the horizon.
Not only is this year’s Junior Distinguished Faculty Award recipient a faithful bike rider, but he is also a licensed pilot. Many times you will see him carting his bike into his office after the long ride to work. Like a good cyclist, he helps students venture off the familiar roads, breathe fresh air and develop their own strength. In his courses he prompts students to think in new and bold ways about the nature of Christians’ ethical engagement and to discover their calling. He helps us perceive the people and the ideas that often get shoved to the edges by the mainstream traffic. Whether he is teaching statistics or theory, he strives to make the complex ideas accessible, to inspire students’ confidence even as he startles their complacency.
And, like the pilot that he is, he can show us the full vista and panorama before us. As a scholar, he challenges evangelicals to be wary of moral posturing and more committed to promoting social hope. In his five years at Gordon he has been a department chair, a member of the Core Committee, a coordinator of the Gordon College Symposium, an occasional host for the Faculty Forum, and a faculty advisor for student clubs—and in all these endeavors strives to promote a curriculum and an intellectual culture concerned with Christians’ moral and social responsibilities.
I once asked a group of students what they most appreciated about this instructor, and they told me that they liked his enthusiasm, his discernment, and his really, really colorful socks. For that enthusiasm and discernment, as well as his ability to help us see more fully the many colors in the world, I am pleased to present this year’s Junior Distinguished Faculty Award to assistant professor of sociology Dr. Daniel Johnson.