Faculty bid Bethel farewell

May 9, 2014 | 11 a.m.

News | Greta Sowels

The end of an academic year is a time saturated with change. Many students go home after a year spent on campus. Still others accept internships or prestigious jobs and live with friends in apartments. There are a few students that work with research professors all summer, mixing chemicals or tracking animals. Some faculty members are leaving Bethel for the summer but don’t have plans to return in the fall. In fact, they will call Illinois, Pennsylvania and South Dakota their new home. Our E-announcements have been filled with faculty and staff farewell announcements. Here’s a chance for some of them to say their goodbyes:

Communications department instructor

When did you start at Bethel?
I started in fall of 2012.

What did you enjoy most about your teaching experience at Bethel?
I enjoy everything about teaching. I enjoyed teaching across the curriculum. When you’re a sabbatical replacement, you basically teach what the other people would have taught had they been there. I taught a variety of classes, some of which I have less experience in. There was a lot of learning in that area.

What challenges did you experience during your time here?
I would say that the only real challenge that I could think of is that I come from the East, and in the Midwest people don’t utilize sarcasm as much in their humor. I think some students had a hard time knowing whether or not I was serious when I said things in class.

Do you have any big plans for the next few years?
I am currently on the job market, so that is a big plan. I try not to make big plans. I try to just have small plans. Usually big plans mean you’re disappointed. [My family and I] are moving back to Pennsylvania, so I am excited about that.

What would you like to say to the Bethel community?
Everyone has been very generous and hospitable. Only good memories.


Professor of Anthropology and Sociology

When did you start at Bethel?
I started teaching here in the fall of 1985. I was part time and I was brought in to teach college writing, and I have been here ever since.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Bethel?
By far, teaching the course in the Middle East, and the experience with the students here and in Jordan. It’s a course that I said, “I could die and go to Heaven. This is so satisfying.”

What challenges did you experience during your time here?
Part of being in the academy is that we think deeply and a long time about ideas and possibilities. What it means for me, as an activist, is that changing things is like moving molasses. I have had to learn as a professional how to manage that slow flow.

Do you have any big plans for the next few years?
I am going to heal this summer. I have to before I am going to start what I am going to do next. I am going to Peru and hike the Incan trail up to Macchu Picchu with my daughter, who is doing a practicum in the Amazon. Beginning Sept. 1, I am teaching adjunct at Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D. I have been invited to work for an organization called Peace Catalyst International, and I am the director of Learning and Women’s Initiatives. Peace Catalyst is a peace and reconciliation interfaith organization. Its goal is to build peaceful communities between Christians and Muslims.

What would you like to say to the Bethel community?
I am very concerned about the community’s understanding of what it takes - the mindset and the skills – to be in this religiously and ethnically diverse world. I’m leaving well; I’m leaving wounded.


Professor of Reconciliation Studies

When did you start at Bethel?
I started first as an adjunct in the school year ’89-’90, which means I’ve been here 25 years. Then I started full-time in fall of 2002.

What did you teach during your time at Bethel?
I came on as an adjunct to teach the course on Martin Luther King, which later became Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and our Multicultural World. I came on full time to start the reconciliation studies program.

What challenges did you experience during your time here?
Well, there is the challenge of a university that is trying to sort out how to do diversity and reconciliation work. As an adjunct -- and I taught in the evening -- there is the challenge of trying to connect with other people at the university.

Do you have any big plans for the next few years?
I will be going to the Community Renewal Society in Chicago. It is a 130-year-old organization involved in the 1960s in the Civil Rights movement in Chicago. It was one of the many organizations that hosted Martin Luther King when he came to the city.

Small plans?
I love the ocean, and I am not getting any closer to the ocean, but Lake Michigan is like an ocean because it has sandy beaches, especially on the Michigan side, which is where I grew up.

What would you like to say to the Bethel community?
Bethel has the potential to do even more amazing work around the area of ethnic diversity and with the departure of Dr. Rodrigues and myself this year, it creates the space for fresh and new thinking and the chance to hopefully build on the work that we’ve done. I hope that Bethel will seize the moment.


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