Mead 207

Message from the President

I conduct a personal interview with each new faculty member who joins Drew. After my first half hour with our music professor, Trevor Weston, my administrative associate, Amy Sugerman, knocked on the door to alert me time was up.

She had to do that every 10 minutes or so, for the next half hour.

Trevor was telling me about his introductory class on music history where he discusses the various traditions of music—from classical to Latin to gospel—that go into the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” I found myself wanting to resign the presidency to become a first-year student again, just so I could take Professor Weston’s class. [More on Weston]

In fact, I rarely find myself able to end interviews with new faculty members on time. I’m intrigued by how each one might shape Drew’s future. The right professor at the right time can be empowering, a truth confirmed every time I meet alumni who speak of teachers who dramatically changed their lives.

It is unfortunate that such a buyer’s market exists in the arts and sciences today. All too many superb, newly minted Ph.D.’s end up underemployed. But Drew and its students benefit mightily. Our senior faculty members not only set the standard for excellence, but they also participate in a painstaking process to select one person out of what often can be hundreds of applicants.

The selectivity shows. And because teaching and learning constitute Drew’s reason for being, even during the worst days of the economic recession we made our first priority the replacing of great teachers who were retiring with great new teachers coming aboard.

This replacement business is complicated, though. The academic disciplines are not dusty museum pieces. Every field is a living and breathing organism, with fresh discoveries and new controversies arising at every moment. We always consider the current shape of the field rather than blindly seek to replace a retiring teacher-scholar with her or his replica in interests. And we also seek to appoint new colleagues who, 20 or 40 years from now, will have the capacity to change and grow with the ongoing life of their field.

This fall, a small army of new faculty members will join Drew in disciplines as varied as biological anthropology, Christian social ethics and political science. I’m looking forward this semester to my interviews with them and learning more about the rich scholarship they bring from their disciplines.

While I hate to take issue with Mick Jagger, it seems that with this group of faculty we can get what we want—and what our students need.

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