Kenyon community bids farwell to distinguished faculty members
Published: Thursday, April 25, 2013
Updated: Thursday, April 25, 2013 02:04
Professor of History
The year was 1966 and a U.S. Special Forces trainee named William Scott had become disillusioned with the military. He resigned his commission and returned to school to plan his next move. “The most supportive person” at that time, he said, “was my history professor. He encouraged me to go to graduate school.” So Scott did, and in 1973 he arrived at Kenyon fresh from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“I found the whole campus very friendly and informal,” Scott said. “It had enough self-confidence to be flexible and allow you to do.”
Scott said that Kenyon professors’ habit of team-teaching helped broaden his worldview and his range of historical knowledge. “You’re working with somebody that’s in a field that you don’t know anything about,” he said. “When you go back to your courses, you take that with you. You become intellectually less parochial.”
One of Scott’s most memorable teaching experiences involved a class he co-taught with Professor of American Studies Peter Rutkoff called North by South. The course involved trips to Southern black communities and the Northern cities to which many migrated. “It transformed the way I understood Southern history,” Scott said. After he retires, Scott will devote more time to his hobby, furniture-making, and to reading and writing. “When I get up in the morning, the only thing I do is what I want to do. I’m taking ‘should’ out of my vocabulary.”
Professor of Political Science
Pamela Jensen arrived at Kenyon in 1979 after teaching at the University of Colorado Boulder and Lake Forest College. She found the transition from Boulder to Gambier refreshing, calling it “just the greatest blessing of my professional life. I thought I had died and gone to heaven the first class I went into,” she said.
Jensen has taught introductory classes as well as upper-level courses like Modern Quest for Justice and classes about individual philosophers from Nietzsche to Rousseau. She has also taught about the French enlightenment, Shakespeare, and politics in American novels.
“I love having first-year students encounter these materials ... for the first time,” she said of her experience teaching Quest for Justice. Jensen has fond memories of “watching student achievement and being a part of it, … talking with students about their work, giving a good lecture, [and] feeling euphoric when somebody gets something.”
After her official retirement, Jensen plans to continue teaching one or two classes per year. She will also continue work on a book about Rousseau, begun several years ago. Jensen is looking forward to spending more time with her daughter and three grandchildren. “I will be happy to have more time while my darling little grandchildren are growing up,” she said.
Jensen will always remember that Kenyon gave her “the opportunity to fulfill my potential as a teacher and the opportunity to love people.”
Professor of Economics
James Keeler arrived at Kenyon in 1984 after five years of teaching at the University of Alabama’s business school. “At a state university’s business school, students would come in with a pretty clear idea of what they wanted to do in a career and then take courses that were oriented toward that,” Keeler said. “I liked the … orientation of the students [at Kenyon] because they were finding out about different disciplines before they made that career choice.”
Kenyon made a profound impact on Keeler’s life: he met his wife here during his second year, after he won the election to a faculty committee on which she served.
Over the years, Keeler has taught the introductory-level micro- and macroeconomics courses, in addition to intermediate theory courses like Empirical Economics and applied macroeconomics. “[Macroeconomics is] about the overall economy and it’s very policy-oriented and all the current events that are going on are things that we talk about in class.”
When he arrived at Kenyon, Keeler observed that it was “much more structured” about things like seminar courses and senior exercises. “We’ve made more adjustments for people over time that I think were needed and have worked out better,” he said. After he retires, Keeler plans to focus on restoring an old sports car he owns, a 1958 MG MGA. He will also spend time doing “a lot of reading” and possibly traveling, “if I can talk my wife into that.”
Professor of English
Professor Klein’s career as an English professor began after he grew weary of his career in the insurance industry.