STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 07/24/2008

In Focus: Faculty

In Their Words:"The enterprise of learning--especially in art--involves the work of the imagination--not just techniques. In the realm of the imagination so much is unknown. I feel like a student alongside my students, discovering truth and beauty. It's exhilarating."
Bruce Herman Lothlórien Distinguished Chair of Fine Arts

Tshudy Patent
Recently Dwight Tshudy, professor of chemistry, received his third patent--a patent for a new toner design that goes under the name "particle external surface additive compositions." The patent will help improve toner charging. The original idea came from group discussions with material scientists and engineers when he worked with Xerox.

"It is exciting to work with a group of scientists to find ways to solve problems, and it's rewarding to come up with an idea that actually makes it into a patent," says Tshudy. The patent was issued in December 2007.

Notations: A Composer's Response to Crisis
She is described as "uncommonly insightful, individualistic, lively" and "technically dazzling" by The New York Times. She has won impressive awards, studied under remarkable musicians and is an active and accomplished recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician. Recently this music professor and artist-in-residence, Mia Chung, released a new DVD entitled Notations: A Composer's Response to Crisis. On this DVD she gives an introduction to Beethoven's Piano Sonatas, Op. 53 and Op. 110, setting the compositions in the context of Beethoven's creative response to his deafness. After this introduction Mia analyzes and demonstrates passages from the works and finally performs the sonatas in their entirety. The DVD also includes alternate tracks where Mia's own voice-over interprets the compositions as she plays them. This is a wonderful teaching tool to help viewers learn more about the compositions and the interpretive choices that artists must make when they play Beethoven.

Distinguished Faculty Awarded
During Commencement Exercises Provost Mark Sargent presented the Junior and Senior Distinguished Faculty Awards to Tanja Butler, associate professor of art, and Jeff Miller, professor of theatre arts. The awards are based on nominations received from faculty and graduating seniors and are based on performance, scholarly and professional excellence, and service to the College and community.

Sargent said Tanja Butler was described by a colleague as "our resident color wheel" and is often seen walking through Barrington Center with her funky, red, round glasses, green clogs and a pink Plexiglas clipboard. She has taught courses in liturgical art and helped the Chapel Office incorporate art in worship services. She has involved her students in the Gordon in Lynn program--an urban community project. As teacher and mentor Tanja devotes hours to looking at students' latest revisions to their works. As colleague she is respected for her gracious presence, her integrity, her ability to raise and respond to difficult questions without self-importance.

Jeff Miller, recipient of the Senior Distinguished Faculty Award, is known for collaborating with other artists--often joining with faculty in music and visual art to enrich Christmas and Tenebrae programs. He shows delight in things new and experimental; he is joyful in his work.

Jeff is a mentor to students, allowing individuals to take risks while setting high goals. His spirit of innovation--as well as respect for students' potential and courage--led to production of Growing Up Christian, a play in which students used their church experiences to write their script: a vibrant, edgy, joyful and moving portrait of a generation's journey to embrace faith in a postmodern era. Selected for the Kennedy Center's regional festival, it won audience and scriptwriting awards. But more important than the awards was the impact the play had on its audience. After seeing Growing Up Christian, the festival director marveled that instead of rushing off to their usual parties, audience members, including students from many colleges in New England, stayed up much of the night talking about their own spiritual journeys.

45 Years of Service
by Abigail Geer '08

In 1957 Marv Wilson, Ph.D., taught his first class in Frost Hall, which was then Gordon Divinity School. A first-year seminarian, he taught introductory Greek in exchange for tuition. After seminary and completion of his Ph.D., Wilson taught at Barrington College before returning to Gordon in 1971. He is being honored by President Carlberg this year for his 45 consecutive years
of teaching.

Wilson has translated sections of the Bible (NIV), written or edited nine books, and authored dozens of scholarly articles. His book Our Father Abraham continues to be used around the world as a foundational text on the Hebraic origins of Christianity.

Interfaith dialogue, one of Wilson's longtime passions, has garnered him national recognition. He has worked tirelessly to build relationships with members of the Jewish community on the North Shore, involving his students on field trips to synagogues and bringing rabbis to campus. "We can't explain Christianity without understanding Judaism," affirms Wilson. "The Gordon experience provides opportunities for students to be conversant with Jewish people, and with Judaism, the religion of Jesus. This knowledge is essential," adds Wilson," for building lasting bridges between today's Church and the Jewish world."

Steve Alter Named Stephen Phillips Chair of History
by Jessica Prudhomme '08

Stephen Alter, Ph.D., associate professor of history, was named the new Stephen Phillips Chair of History in January 2008. The endowed chair, formerly held by Richard Pierard, Ph.D., is a two-year position that provides a member of Gordon's History Department with resources needed to do in-depth research in an area of academic interest. The professorship is made possible by the Phillips family of Beverly, Massachusetts, who have long had a passion for historical preservation.

Alter, who has been teaching history at Gordon for the last eight years, plans to use the stipend that accompanies the professorship to travel to historical archives, purchase books and attend scholarly conferences. In particular, he is carrying out research for a book about American biblical scholars and biblical archeologists, circa 1840-1940. "I want to explore the views of Protestant, Catholic and Jewish researchers regarding the interconnections of biblical criticism and Near Eastern archeology," he said. To gain material for the project Alter plans to visit university and seminary archives and to study old letters exchanged between scholars working at those institutions.

His current project will not be his first publication. He already has two books and a myriad of articles to his name, including Darwinism and the Linguistic Image: Language, Race, and Natural Theology in the Nineteenth Century (Johns Hopkins, 1999) and William Dwight Whitney and the Science of Language (Johns Hopkins, 2005). Brigitte Nerlich from The American Historical Review describes the latter work as "a deeply engaging book that should be of interest to historians, linguists, and anyone interested in the relation between science and society in the 19th century and beyond." Alter has also published a number of articles in scholarly journals.

Alter looks forward to pursuing his research this summer and while teaching next year. Though his new book will not be completed during his time as the Stephen Phillips Chair, he is grateful for the honor and for the opportunity to play the dual role of teacher and scholar.


Mia Chung
Tanja Butler & Jeff Miller
Marv Wilson
Steve Alter