We’ve all had that experience that makes us remember how lucky we are. And that experience is especially profound when at the same time, it makes you understand the responsibility that accompanies your luck.
Last week, we lost a colleague, Eric Martinson, Assistant Professor of English. He battled leukemia for a little over year. He was admired and valued by both his students and colleagues. He was a COD alum and he came back here because he cared about the work we do and he wanted to build a career at the place where he got started.
I want to take a moment to thank the people who worked to make Eric feel supported and connected to COD throughout his illness. Tim Henningsen, Jason Snart, Melina Martin, Mary Anderson, Danica Hubbard, Karin Evans, Amy Camp and, of course, Tom Montgomery-Fate, who was Eric’s teacher here many years ago.
They are why I feel lucky. They say that the way we treat our sick says a lot about a culture. This shows me that we have a rich culture here. It’s been challenged by controversy. It’s been challenged by bad leadership. It’s challenged by silos. It’s challenged by initiative fatigue. But it’s still here. We’re still here and we’re not going anywhere. That’s where the responsibility comes in. And the good news is – I don’t have an ask for you. It’s not your job to build or nurture our culture. It’s my job. It’s their job. It’s our future President’s job. We have a responsibility to this institution, to our students and each other to rebuild and strengthen this culture.
We’re going to start by confronting our fears. We’re not going to be afraid to ask questions and challenge each other’s assumptions. Our business is education – we’re supposed to challenge each other.
We are going to be clear about what our vision is for teaching, advising, and mentoring . We are going to be clear about the resources and information we need to not just get that job done, but also continuously improve. We’re going to figure out how to make our systems of collaboration (another word for committees) more effective.
One of the things that Eric was passionate about was technology and how it shaped communication. The first interaction I ever had with him was at the Celebration of Student Writing, held during the Spring Semester. Students were asked to present their typical research papers in unique ways that engaged technology. The students participating in this were clearly energized by their research and projects. Technology can bring out that energy even fuel it at times.
Tonight, we are finally approving the purchase of software that will help faculty engage in assessment projects that support and inspire continuous improvement in our work. The need for this purchase has been on our plate for at least two years and it’s going to serve as a starting point for more great things to come.
Finally, I do want to mention that the Eric Martinson Memorial Scholarship Fund is being established through the COD Foundation. And now I do have an ask. I hope that we can count on you to support a scholarship will help future students as they embark on their journey at COD.