Three reasons to cheer Bates faculty scholarship

Why is faculty scholarship important at a college like Bates? At a March 7 reception designed to celebrate such scholarship, President Elaine Tuttle Hansen offered three good arguments for it.

• In contrast to the common view that academe is an isolated domain, faculty work diligently to stay au courant in the physical world and the world of ideas.

• Scholarship validates the concept of learning for learning’s sake, a concept central to small liberal arts schools like Bates.

• And it enables faculty to engage in the kind of two-way transformative teaching that is the academic enterprise at its best.

The slide show cited all manner of faculty accomplishments, such as publications, performances, awards and grants, with more than a few having Bates student involvement. (For example, Dana Professor of Chemistry Tom Wenzel, a chirality expert and researcher, in the past year has published eight scholarly articles — in Chirality, the Journal of Organic Chemistry, Progress in NMR Spectroscopy, the Journal of Chemical Education, Tetrahedron Asymmetry, and Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry — six of which were coauthored by current or recent Bates students.)

The Faculty Scholarship Committee organized the slide show and the reception that preceded the monthly faculty meeting in Chase Hall Lounge.

“It’s good to see the names and faces and stories.”

Watching the slides, Lynne Lewis, professor of economics, suggested a way that the reception helped faculty stay current with each other, too. “We sometimes don’t know much about what other faculty members are doing,” she said. “It’s good to see the names and faces and stories.”

As a musical offering to their colleagues, Professor of Physics John Smedley (on guitar) and Assistant Professor of Music Dale Chapman (on alto sax) warmed the gathering with a short jazz set that featured Charlie Parker’s “Scrapple from the Apple” and Smedley’s own “Blues for Epaphroditus.”

Professor of Chemistry Rachel Narehood Austin, a member of the scholarship committee,  observed that “it’s nice to celebrate” the robustness of Bates faculty research, adding, with a glance at the rain and snow outside, that “it’s especially nice to celebrate in March.”

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