Friday, October 15, 2010

28 Hours in Valparaiso, IN

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent the last day or so in Valparaiso, IN.  I was attending a reunion conference of former Lilly Fellows on the subject of "Finding One's Place" in church-related higher education.  As some of my readers know, I was a "Lilly Fellow" at Valparaiso from 2000-2002 where I spent two years working on The Way of Improvement Leads Home, learning how to teach, and reflecting with other fellows about the relationship between faith and higher education.  It was a very formative experience in my life.

I have a lot of things going through my mind right now about this trip.  I saw a lot of friends--nearly of all of whom are working in the academy.  I believe it was Pamela Parker, one of the keynote speakers at the conference and a professor of English at Whitworth College, who called us the "Lilly Tribe."  It was fun being among all of these thoughtful scholars talking about the theme of "place."  We did our best not to get too nostalgic about our days working in the Linwood House at Valparaiso.

The talks I heard were great.  Pam's talk set the stage for the conference.  She offered some definitions of place and connected these themes to some of her own work in "literary tourism."  Paul Harvey responded to Pam's talk with some reflections about some tough choices he had to make about "staying put" at the University of Colorado--Colorado Springs.  Joanne Meyers of Gettysburg College offered a wonderful (and quite funny) talk about being pedestrian and being a pedestrian.

The second session was  a panel of three former Lilly Fellows--Jamie Skillen (Calvin College), Tal Howard (Gordon College), and Susanna Childress (Hope College).  Jamie discussed some of the geographical dimensions of "place."  Tal discussed the way place and tradition plays out in a new initiative at Gordon.  Vanessa read an autobiographical "creative non-fiction" paper that was absolutely fabulous.

After vespers I gave a talk to a combined audience of former Lilly fellows and students in Christ College (Valparaiso's Honors College), entitled, "Does the Way of Improvement Leads Home?: Cosmopolitan Rootedness and the Church-Related Academy."  Perhaps at some point I will post this talk (or at least parts of it) to the blog.

The day ended at the home of Mark Schwehn and Dorothy Bass where we ate dinner and caught up with old friends.  Thanks to Mark, Joe Creech, and Kathy Sunderland for putting together a great conference.

The conference continues today and then gives way to the National Lilly Fellows Conference this weekend.  As for me, I am off to Montville, NJ to be inducted into the Montville Township High School Hall of Fame.  Stay tuned for more on this.  Gotta run, my plane from O'Hare is leaving.

2 comments:

Paul Harvey said...

John: Thanks for posting, but speak for yourself about "we did our best not to get too nostalgic" -- I was reveling in the nostalgia myself!

I hope you'll post at least a chunk of your excellent talk here sometime. We were talking about it this morning while you were off to receive the illustrious High School Hall of Fame award. Your talk also sent me on a little tangent that I was going to do this morning (but we ran out of time) about Bruce Springsteen and cosmopolitan rootedness -- along the lines of, are we rooted in places from which we are born to run (or perhaps bound to run, if we want to find our way of improvement)? But as you know, that's my thing, less your perhaps. Great seeing you in person; the blogosphere is a fun place, but can't substitute for good in person discussions.

John Fea said...

Paul: Good to see you too. If you get a chance, I would love to hear that tangent on Springsteen and place. I have some opinions on this myself. I think you need to balance "Born to Run" with his recent cut on the Magic album--"Gonna Be A Long Walk Home."

It would be great to hear what the panel had to say about my paper. I am sorry I missed it. The Hall of Fame ceremony was great. I will try to post on it in the next day or two.