The Faculty of Arts & Sciences has 10 new faculty retirees.
Wentworth Hall (Photo by Robert Gill)
Ten members of the Faculty of Arts & Science who retired this year were honored at a reception after the June 9 faculty meeting. Some of the retirees spoke with Dartmouth Now about their time at Dartmouth and what they’ll miss about teaching at the College, and some shared their plans for the future.
Asian Studies, Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Literatures
I specialize in early Chinese language and culture, especially the history of thought. I came to Dartmouth after 23 years of teaching at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, in 1995. Soon after China opened to the West, in the early 1980s, I began collaborating with Chinese historians to publish early Chinese materials held by western museums and libraries in China, thus making them available to Chinese researchers. Dartmouth has been a very different experience from London, but I am grateful to Dartmouth for making it possible for me to continue in these collaborations. I have hosted a steady stream of visiting Chinese scholars and students.
Most importantly, when the first discovery of 4th century BCE bamboo manuscripts with philosophical texts was published in 1998, we held the first international conference at Dartmouth, attended by the excavators and many of the most prestigious Chinese and Western scholars in the field. This was followed by a series of workshops and conferences, including another major conference at Dartmouth on bamboo manuscripts in collaboration with Tsinghua University in 2013, and they have made Dartmouth known as a center of research in this field. I am confident that the experience of interacting with these visiting scholars and students has also greatly enhanced the learning experience of Dartmouth students.
Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Literatures
My 38 years at Dartmouth College have brought me much joy, most importantly through the wonderful students I have taught and who still regularly return to visit. To be able to teach such students in an environment that comes close to paradise is rare good fortune. Dartmouth College has also, in a variety of ways over the decades, supported and encouraged my work with Chinese storytelling artists. For all these things, I am very grateful.
Film and Media Studies
In teaching filmmaking courses over the past 25 years, I've particularly enjoyed the collaborative aspects of working with students one-on-one as they engage the complexity and difficulty of filmmaking, and further, the privilege of observing and advising them as they discover, or rediscover, the excitement and satisfaction of making something all their own. Many go on to other fields, some are hooked on film for life, but none of them forget the experience of making their first film and seeing it projected on a large screen in front of an audience.
The opportunity to work with outstanding students and colleagues here at Dartmouth has been a privilege, and I am grateful to the College for the resources allowing me to do this in style and to a high standard. My wife, Erika, and I relish life in the Upper Valley, and plan to stay and enjoy our family and friends, the wonderful environment, and the terrific recreational opportunities. I now aim to live, as one colleague put it, an “endless summer,” pursuing my research and adventures in the mountains, fields, and forests and on the rivers and lakes of New England and beyond.
History and Master of Arts in Liberal Studies
During the last 23 years, Dartmouth provided me with remarkable opportunities that transformed my work as a teacher and scholar. I came to Dartmouth to teach American history and retired as a peace historian. Developing courses like “War and Peace: A Global History” and “Globalization and its Discontents,” and regularly discussing war, peace, and globalization with colleagues from other disciplines; and directing undergraduate and graduate theses on these subjects led me to change the focus of my own scholarship from America’s modern political economy to global peace history. Thanks to Dartmouth I am now committed to work as a scholar in peace history for the rest of my life. Currently I am editing a six-volume collection of essays for Bloomsbury Publishing titled A Cultural History of Peace from Antiquity to the Present, and I am writing about the creation during the aftermath of World War I of the global NGO Save the Children.
Retirement today is primarily an act of the imagination, a time to rebalance. Not counting my years as a Dartmouth undergraduate, half of my 27 years at Dartmouth have included the opportunity to help create a new university, the American University of Kuwait (AUK), with which Dartmouth has had a cooperative agreement since 2003. I manage a team of Dartmouth administrators and faculty members excited to be helping build a new university from the ground up, and we have created satisfying opportunities for student and faculty exchange along the way. My work with AUK continues, and since I write regularly on higher education in the Middle East, among other subjects, my administrative work is a form of experiential learning. I’ll spend part of next year as a fellow at Australian National University in Canberra, and my mentoring of junior colleagues and advanced students continues as before.
My years as a professor in the Dartmouth English department, where I also served as chair, were some of the best in my career. I loved my students, and the courses I was able to teach across a variety of fields, including Victorian studies, black studies, and the novel, and the theses I directed. Dartmouth students were everything I could have wanted: engaged, passionate, and dedicated. Teaching in the seminar rooms of Special Collections in Rauner Library was always the highlight of my academic year. Although excited about my new direction, I will miss my Dartmouth students and colleagues enormously. I am now the dean of Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the Paul Murray Kendall Chair in Biography.
Retirement does not signal a great deal of change for people like me. I live in books and will continue to be a person who lives in books. The thing I will miss the most, however, is teaching undergraduates.
While Mathis was at home nursing an injury, others jumped in with accolades, including her colleague Thomas O'Malley, associate professor of English and director of creative writing. “Those who know Cleopatra, know her spirit and know she is a force of nature, driven by her love for teaching. It was her passion and will that built our creative writing program from the ground up with limited funding and limited political resources. Hundreds of students have been shaped by her care. I cannot count the number of students who return annually to sing her praises, praise that speaks to the profound impact she's had on both students and us,” O’Malley said at a recent faculty meeting.
I’m grateful to faculty, staff, and especially students (grad and undergrad) for the opportunity to learn, grow and share here at Dartmouth. Students who have already charted a path for themselves have appreciated guidance and assistance along that path. Most rewarding for me has been working with students who are still searching—searching for meaning, and for a pathway in learning and career that will help develop that meaning in their lives. I have been lucky to work with students in ideal settings, in rich natural environments and in collaborative frameworks. I maintain research interests at Dartmouth, on our own Mt. Moosilauke. And I will continue to explore synergies in learning and meaning.
French and Comparative Literature
Looking back at my career at Dartmouth, I ask myself what could be more rewarding than doing what I always liked to do: reading and writing, teaching and doing research. Especially when teaching is done in front of curious and interested students, and when research uncovers sometimes surprising new territories, I realize how privileged I was. A course on photography and literature, another one on Jules Verne’s extraordinary stories, several incursions in French literature with women writers as guides, as well as scholarly travels to the Balkans–these are treasured memories that defined my life at Dartmouth for more than 26 years