Retiring Faculty Profess Lessons from the Classroom: Part 1

Since the Middle Ages, the word “professor” has referred to someone who teaches—professes—a branch of knowledge. At Gordon, faculty continue the tradition of sharing expert knowledge from their academic field of study (though leaving the regalia for just a couple of special occasions). But they also take the vocation of a professor a step further by sharing their faith and personal wisdom, from lessons in listening well to finding Christ on a canvas.

As the 2020–21 academic year concludes, The Bell caught up with six of these beloved mentors who are departing from Gordon after years of inspiration and personal investment. In the first of two articles featuring their reflections, retiring professors talk about their upcoming plans and offer their insights once again.

Bruce Herman, Lothlórien Distinguished Chair in Fine Arts, Barrington Gallery and Collection Director

Years at Gordon: 38
Next steps: Continuing current roles for the next year; exhibitions and speaking engagements in the fall; a chapter in the forthcoming book God in the Modern Wing (InterVarsity Press), to be released October 5.
Most important lesson he’s learned: “Relationship is the basis of all genuine learning. A good lecture is helpful but no replacement for authentic involvement in the person.”
Hope for students: “First, that they would forget everything I taught that wasn’t from Christ; second that they’d consistently meet him in my classroom and know his inexorable love and grace; finally, that they would be students of Christ for a lifetime.”
Reflections on retirement: “My career as an artist and teacher has been very fulfilling—more than I ever could have imagined. I will continue to paint and teach in a different context than the classroom—but my time at Gordon prepared me well. Thirty-eight years is a good beginning.”

Peter Iltis, Professor of Kinesiology

Years at Gordon: 38
Next steps: Continuing to direct his ongoing research project, MRI Brass Repository Project, which examines embouchure dystonia, develops a large database of real-time MRI videos for use by researchers and conducts pedagogical research for brass musicians to inform practice among brass teachers.
Most important lesson he’s learned: “Teaching at the college level is more about helping students learn how to think critically and analytically than it is about having them digest and be able to regurgitate content.”
A meaningful memory: Seeing the Kinesiology Department grow from a handful of students to over 100, with state-of-the-art labs. “Being able to train students in those labs to take their place in medical schools . . . and programs around the country equipped better than many of their peers entering those programs has meant the world to me.”
Dream retirement vacation: “Bavaria, with a nice dip through Austria.”

Tim Sherratt, Professor of Political Science

Years at Gordon: 32
Next steps: Spending more time with grandchildren, getting another dog, enjoying regular breakfasts with friends and possibly teaching a course here and there.
Most important lesson he’s learned: “Speak less and listen more.”
Prayer for students: “A frequent prayer—prayed often as I scanned the names of students enrolled in a course as it began—was that the course would become part of their intellectual, emotional and spiritual maturing in their pilgrimages toward Christ.”
Favorite class to teach: American Constitutional Law. “It offers deep insights into the meaning of America, its best and worst. The Supreme Court—unelected body though it is—can model the best of democracy: informed, reasoned deliberation and decision-making.”
Dream retirement vacation: His own backyard, “for all those good Wendell Berry-esque reasons that raise up the importance of the local places where we live.”