Faculty Advance

August 20, 2010

Actually it was a Faculty Retreat, but it was such a stimulating, funny, interesting affair that I can’t bring myself to call it that.  We start every year with a Faculty Retreat.  For two days, the entire Faculty gathers to talk together in preparation for the new year.  Sometimes (but not this year) we invite an outside speaker.  This year we read Jonah Lehrer’s How We Decide as preparation for talking about the overall shape and direction of our curriculum.

Yesterday (the second day) Corinne Deibel, Professor of Chemistry, was invited to reflect on what we had been hearing.  She started with this:

Top 10 List: Things I heard in Faculty Retreat at Earlham.

#10) “We aspire to be foxes but are internally hedgehogs”
#9) The secret to a great title is to use a French word and a meta-something
#8) “dumb it down for me”
#7) “the mind is like a clothes dryer”
#6) “we need to teach an erotic craving for ideas”
#5) We want to be “distinctive but not downright weird”
#4) “burn the place down”
#3) “whoever cuts the Gordian knot gets to be president”
#2) Having discovered Lady Gaga, [Historian and Archivist] Tom Hamm now wants to be known as “Tommy Sunshine”
#1) 2 is less than 3

Yes, I know: you had to be there.  Really, you did.  Somebody said each of these things, and they were wonderful insights at the moment, the better for being a little silly, sometimes.  But they’re hard to grasp out of context.  Discussions like this really need to be experienced at first hand, and as a participant.

It’s a tremendous strength of Earlham that the whole Faculty can gather together for two days of talking and thinking together.  It’s a way to strengthen our community, to strengthen our ability to work together even across the long angles of the curriculum.   And its a way to learn together.

We worked hard and we came away refreshed, ready for the new academic year.

New students are arriving today.


About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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