The Senior Distinguished Faculty Award is given each spring to a full professor. As we all know, professors can often get lost. Sometimes they get lost in thought, stuck somewhere in their own musings and contemplation. Sometimes they get lost in the library, or even lost in the past, trying to sort through ancient artifacts or languages for insights about culture and human character. If they are like me, sometimes they get lost in cyberspace, trying to navigate the maze of a new software program or simply to stay afloat as some new wave of technology sweeps over us, changing how we study, communicate and teach.
To be honest, if I was lost in some new cyberworld matrix, I would want the winner of this year’s Senior Distinguished Faculty Award to be my guide. Since arriving at Gordon five years ago, he has been the foremost interpreter on the faculty of the potential and the limits of technology. Students, faculty and administrators alike have greatly appreciated his counsel about the ways that technological innovation can enhance motivation and learning, even as he offers discerning advice about the forms of technology that can be debilitating or superfluous. A biblical scholar, he has explored the realm where ancient Greek and Hebrew and the C++ of modern computer language meet. He has been a champion of using technological resources to provide wider access to information and the free flow of ideas, and in the last several years has undertaken numerous intellectual projects, developing web-based archives of important primary materials and his own interpretations of biblical texts. Academic presses have published his interactive CD programs, including a recent work on Mastering New Testament Greek and a virtual journey though the culture and landscape of biblical Palestine, one that allows us all to get Lost in Jerusalem.
And he is, in the best sense, a professor who can get lost in thought. Gentle spirited, collegial and generous with his time, he enters easily into conversations with a desire to learn from others, to entertain new ideas, to contemplate how his own understanding of Scripture can be enriched by interdisciplinary theory and inquiry. Students and faculty appreciate both his winsome modesty and his ability to challenge them with new ideas. It is the same breadth of care and engagement that led to his election to the Faculty Senate. It also led him, during a previous post at a Midwestern seminary, not only to prepare would-be pastors for the ministry but to drive many miles to teach inmates at a local prison. For such reasons, this year’s committee was pleased to select Dr. Ted Hildebrandt as the recipient of the Senior Distinguished Faculty Award.