Board members, President Caputo, President Toler, colleagues. My name is Timothy Henningsen. I am an Associate Professor of English here. I also chair the college’s Composition Program, which has the unique distinction of enrolling more students than any other on campus. I am the Chair of the college’s Instruction Committee, where we work with a variety of constituents, including faculty and administration, to maximize teaching effectiveness at the college. I work closely with our 120 English adjunct faculty to promote our pedagogy and ensure best practices in the classroom. I serve on hiring committees. I participate in campus research projects. I present my work at conferences. And, lest I forget, in addition to all this I teach hundreds of students a year, in face-to-face & online courses. I work a whole heckuva lot. But good God I love my job.
I’ve been asked by my faculty colleagues to say a few words about that tonight, but I’d actually like to talk about that by way of someone else.
On March 10 of this year, the college lost one of our own. Professor of English Eric Martinson passed away after a nasty year-long battle with leukemia. Eric and I were hired together. We started the same day, and had offices next to one another. In a short 5 years, he became an incredible friend to me. But where I really learned to respect Eric was in watching him teach. I marveled at his commitment: meeting with students in his office, emailing them at all hours, staying after class. Always teaching, always advising, always supporting. Even in his final days on earth, lying in a hospital bed after brutal bouts of devastating chemotherapy, he would email former students providing words of encouragement.
He was undoubtedly one of the most beloved professors on campus. Professor Martinson was just 39.
I tell this story not to take advantage of the circumstances in which we, the faculty, and you, the board find ourselves in right now.
I tell it because Eric was like so many of the people in this room tonight. Eric devoted himself to his students. They absolutely adored him, because he cared about them.
While Eric’s story was cut short, my colleagues and I have created a scholarship to honor his legacy here — the Eric Martinson Memorial Scholarship — and I hope all of you would consider a donation. Many of you, including our own President Toler, President Caputo, Professors Hazard, and Evans, and Monnier, and Bowers, and Tipton, and Tungol, and Snart, and McGrath, and Murtaugh, and many, many more, have been incredibly generous already. But perhaps the most telling contribution comes from Barb Groves, who works in the Office of the Provost. Barb’s daughter, Kimberly, took Eric’s composition classes a few years ago. Barb isn’t on campus today, because she is helping Kimberly move into a new apartment. Next Wednesday, Kimberly begins graduate school at Clemson University, where she intends on becoming an English professor. Because of Eric.
He was an exemplar for what I and my faculty colleagues stand for. This scholarship will aid COD students, but it will also honor the unyielding guidance and support that teachers like Professor Martinson provided to so many here. Teaching matters, and Eric Martinson mattered.