Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Speaking in Tongues and Other Rad Stuff

Like I mentioned before, students are pre-registering for Spring classes. One of the things I’m really excited about is how quickly my course TH 3130 Introduction to New Testament Greek filled up. Why? Because it’s a theology course that integrates language into it.

The Foreign Languages classes are filling up as well.

In my class we actually learn the Koine Greek spoken by some of the Apostles, the Greek language in which the New Testament was written. We learn how to conjugate verbs in various tenses as well as decline nouns and adjectives. The Greek is elementary, but enough so that we can appreciate the nuances of the language and how these effect the meaning of passages. The course heavily emphasizes the theological meaning of the NT and issues about translation and interpretation, as well as canon of the Scripture.

At RU we have a fantastic Department of Classical and Modern Languages. The Chair, Rocío De la Rosa Duncan, comes from Mexico and María Luísa Fernández Martínez hails from Spain. While M. Kathleen Madigan who teaches French was born in the US, she was a Fulbright scholar who spent a year in Senegal. She has just created a new French course: Senegalese Literature and Culture. They have lots of exciting course offerings. We also have adjuncts who are highly qualified who teach French and Spanish as well as on occasion offer German, Latin, and even Japanese.

Having a foreign language under your belt is a great marketing tool in the global society. It opens up all sorts of opportunities in education, health care, business, social work, pastoral care, and the sciences, just to name a few. As the world becomes more and more globally interconnected, being multilingual will be a great asset not only in the workplace but also empower one to understand and appreciate other cultures.

Majors in History, English as well as Theology/Religious Studies must take two semesters of a foreign language at a college level. Philosophy majors are also strongly encouraged to take a language. Our newly revamped Global Studies major now requires at least four semesters of a foreign language.
And before I forget to mention it, we have a really strong Study Abroad Program, even for those who don’t know a foreign language. But if you do, it’s an awesome opportunity to immerse yourself in that language and culture.

Being bilingual is totally rad!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Will the Rats Win?

It’s hard to say the one thing I like most about Rockhurst, but one of the top things is that it is people oriented. While there is the “institution” and some necessary “bureaucracy,” the underlying drive behind everything being done comes from part of our mission: “transforming lives in the Jesuit tradition.”

We’re a student focused university. While I enjoy being in the classroom, perhaps the most gratifying side of student engagement is when it’s one on one. Lots of students drop by my office, whether for extra help on something they didn’t quite understand in class, or a regular Honors Option meeting, or someone popping in to talk on a more personal level about something going on. (Some even poke their heads in between classes just to chew the fat.) I really enjoy the personal interaction that gets beyond the academic and “theoretical” side of things. Of course in the classroom I always have to maintain an academic presence even while trying to foster subjective interaction with the material, but when it’s all said and done if none of what I’m saying translates into real life, What’s the purpose of it all in the first place?

Rockhurst is about transforming lives. It’s a two way street, many times filled with intersections, and thus choices. As an instructor, I present information and try to open the student up to other perspectives and possibilities. As a teacher, I foster learning where the student reflects, analyzes and applies the information, or even discovers new information and perspectives. To quote Socrates, “The unreflected life isn’t worth living.” Sure I can stumble through life in a daze and go from party to party and be zoned out, or I can walk along a path and notice my surroundings and reflect upon them. Or even better yet, I can run with a goal in focus striving for the finish line and along the way kick up a lot dust in the faces of people who are mere bystanders in life. I can either burn up the track or just sit around and get burned in the sun. Rockhurst is about running the race of life with gusto and getting out of the rat race of life that is meaningless.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Advising--That Time of Year

Well this week I’m busy meeting with advisees. I have six new freshman advisees this year. Several are in the Honors Program. In a nut shell, the Honors Program takes regular course offerings and ramps them up intellectually and requires more course work. This enables the students to engage the subject matter more deeply than they would in the regular classroom setting. I periodically teach an Honors section of TH 1000 Christianity I: Foundations and do Honors Options with individuals in my other classes that want this level of engagement.

Anyhow, I’m meeting with my Honors Advisees who because of the program they’re in, get to pre-register for classes at the same time Seniors do, thus before everybody else. At Rockhurst we emphasize the Liberal Arts Education—this is foundational. Every student in the whole university, no matter what your eventual major, must fulfill what are called Core Requirements. The Core consists of three proficiencies: Written Communication, Oral Communication, and Mathematics; as well as Seven Modes (the Liberal Arts): Artistic, Historical, Literary, Philosophical, Theological, Scientific-Causal, & Scientific-Relational. We at Rockhurst believe that by taking 52 hours in the Core (give or take depending on which courses you actually choose), this Rock Solid foundation prepares you to function well and serve in society as a well-balanced and well-rounded person. The Core is about transforming lives.

For information on the Core click here:

For info re: the Honors Program:

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Recent Hawk Sighting

Well tomorrow is the first day of Fall Break so I thought I better get this out. Just when the first costumed mascot appeared, seems to be a bit of a mystery. The first pic is of the Hawk with my daughter last week, and rumor has it that the Hawk is as sweet as sugar. But who knows who really inhabits the inside of the Hawk at sporting events? The second is a pretty freaky one of the Hawk taken from the 1980 Yearbook (top right). Get a load of that costume! You’ve come a long way baby! (Thank God)

Of course the Hawk had to make an appearance at Rockhurst Day! But just who IS this Hawk? The identity of the person inside the costume is usually a secret. The Hawk never speaks so as to give away who’s inside. But some pretty solid sources claim that the Hawk has been portrayed by gals as well as guys.

But why is the Hawk Rockhurst’s mascot? Rockhurst College was founded in 1910 (obviously a big centennial celebration is already in the plans), but it wasn’t until March 1927 that the Rockhurst athletes landed on a name. Up until then the athletic teams--we had football back then--were simply referred to as the “Blue and White” (our school colors), the “Southsiders” (Rockhurst was on the south side of Kansas City), or the “Irish” (because a lot of Irish Catholics attended the college and many Jesuits were Irish as were the coaches Mason, Ryan, and Halpin).

But in 1927, the coaches decided to have a five week campaign asking suggestions for a permanent name. Three hundred some monikers were submitted with nearly every type of bird and beast nominated. John Cauley, a college freshman, and Donald Rossner, a high school student, both submitted the winning name Hawks. (Originally, Rockhurst College and High School were very closely aligned; the High School was on the same property until 1962.) From March 23, 1927 forward, Rockhurst College (now University) athletes have been known as the Hawks and those at the High School--the Hawklets (young Hawks). For a timeline of Rockhurst History click here and on “Rockhurst Traditions” in the bookmark.
Any alums out there reading this, Do you have any older pictures of the Hawk or know when the Mascot first appeared? Love to hear from you.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Great Opportunities thru RU

One of the opportunities I have as a professor is to mentor someone during the summer if s/he is awarded a Deans’ Research Fellowship. This past summer I worked with one of our theology majors, Luciano Garofalo, aka Looch, who had received the fellowship based on his proposal and previous academic performance. I had been researching a particular theological aspect of the earliest Greek commentary on the Book of Revelation. The commentary is pretty rare and was just translated into English last year. (I teach a course on the Book of Revelation and its some pretty wild stuff and a fun class.) Anyhow, so Looch decided to work on the same commentary and deal with numerology, the symbolic meaning of numbers. Of course, the Book of Revelation is known for 666, the mark of the beast, and sets of seven. (Looch the Beast is pictured above.)

We had fun meeting; Looch did his research and wrote up an article with the goal of getting it published. I read his draft and he did some outstanding work. With a few suggestions and corrections, we sent it off to the same journal in which my article was going to appear. Last week we just heard from the editor who said, “The article is very scholarly, informative, and very interesting.” It’s going to be published next year along side mine! What the real kicker is, this journal, The Patristic and Byzantine Review, is a multi-lingual high-brow international scholarly journal and tough to get into. So huge congrats to Looch!!! Awesome!

Being at Rockhurst opens up all sorts of opportunities. Three of my former students landed once in a life time summer internships. To read about their amazing opportunuties, click on this link.
Way to go, Nikki, Sarah, and Jo!