Words of wisdom from a sabbatical away

September 30, 2013 | 11 a.m.

Three professors furthur academic projects, enjoy hobbies during their time away from Bethel

Culture | Steve McGeary for The Clarion

Sabbatical, by definition, is an extended period of time away from campus where college professors expand their knowledge, research areas of their field that they find fascinating. If you’re Communication department chair Nancy Brule, sabbatical may mean simply enjoying the great outdoors.

Brule spent her fall 2012 sabbatical moving to a farm with husband Artie Terry who was also on sabbatical at the time. She spent a lot of time relaxing on the deck and working on two larger academic-related projects. One of these projects was a curriculum revision which focused on the department’s objectives and areas of emphasis moving forward. As part of this revision, two new majors have been created.

A second project that Brule headed was the proposal for a book addressing the issue of adolescent to parent abuse- a silenced form of abuse that is more common than most would recognize.

Throughout her sabbatical, Brule cherished the company of her farm animals and, by returning to a rural setting, was able to experience the comfort of God’s creation. Her love for animals allowed her to develop a useful skill, or maybe just some bragging rights over Terry. She was able to learn how to milk the goats on their farm, a task he couldn’t accomplish over his sabbatical, despite tireless effort that yielded no results other than a whimpering goat or two.

Terry, known to most students as “Artie," may not have conquered those pesky goats, but he did manage to complete a project of his own. During his fall 2012 sabbatical he wrote a screenplay titled “Until Monday.” The story focuses on the life of an undercover cop with a serious drug addiction and was inspired by another movie Terry wrote called “Commentary.” The worst part of the process, Terry commented, was tackling writer’s block or simply bad writing. For nearly a week, he was unable to produce anything he enjoyed and became increasingly frustrated with his project. In the end, these obstacles made finishing the screenplay more enjoyable, and he considers it the high point of his leave.

While on sabbatical, Terry spent almost no time on campus. During his time away, he missed his colleagues, specifically those from the Communication department. He also learned a little bit about himself in the process. “I’m not as forgiving a person as I thought I was.”

Terry thought he was a more patient individual than he discovered as he became increasingly frustrated with the choices his main character made and how he developed over time.

Another professor that spent a lot of time working on various writing projects was Joey Horstman of the English department. Horstman took his second sabbatical during fall of 2012 and spent the time writing four short stories. It had been awhile since Horstman wrote fiction and he was a little nervous about the process. Of these stories, two have been published, and the other two are still on the market. Horstman also worked on some literary criticism on Don DeLillo’s "Underworld," and he is in the process of revising two articles that he hopes to publish in the near future.

During his time away from campus, Horstman missed the energy of his colleagues and students. While he thoroughly enjoys writing, this practice evokes his inner hermit and makes him appreciate the college environment even more.

“Universities are great, eccentric places. There’s no other place where people are interested in so many weird and interesting things,” he said.

His passion for teaching and interaction was made evident throughout his leave, although he could do without all of the grading the classroom setting includes.

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