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With Gratitude: A Tribute to Retiring Faculty

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Banner of retired professors
September 9, 2015
By Adela Ramos

Late last spring, we said farewell to five professors who shaped the English Department through their relentless passion for teaching, commitment to their students, and active engagement on campus. Chuck Bergman, Tom Campbell, Sharon Jansen, David Seal, and Barbara Temple-Thurston have retired, leaving those of us who stay behind with the task of honoring their robust legacy. Chuck, Tom, Sharon, David and Barbara were all beloved professors who left indelible marks on the lives of their students. As a modest token of our gratitude, we collected testimonies from generations of students who, under their fearless guidance, discovered the invaluable place that literature has in the human experience. As we usher in a new year, we miss their powerful presence in our Department, but are mindful to continue to foster the values that they instilled in previous generations of students in those how now enter our classrooms. We have included some of the many moving testimonies we received from alumni. As we read them, we are reminded that we have very big shoes to fill. Congratulations on your retirement, dear colleagues!

Prof. Chuck Bergman —

As much as I hate to shelve the love for Shakespeare you fostered and grew within me, I must focus my attention on the environmental aspects of our time together. I left culinary school with ambitions to change the food industry and help animals. I never expected to learn that the fast track to success in this fight for humane treatment would be to personally forgo animal products. It was only through the literature you assigned that I shifted my focus inward and accepted my accountability.
All the best,
Katrina Stahl

Prof. Tom Campbell

Professor Campbell was the epitome of the liberal arts professor. He was the finest lecturer I ever had in 10 years of higher education. He made British literature come alive. It was always a pleasure to attend his classes. Tom was also one of the first professors I ever had to introduce feminist perspectives into my education, and that had an enduring influence of my subsequent academic trajectory (I eventually pursued a Ph.D. in Sociology). Tom was also caring and thoughtful as an advisor. I recall meaningful meetings in his office when he offered both a kind ear and gentle guidance. I consider Tom to be one of my most influential teachers, and PLU was lucky to have him as a fixture in an outstanding English Department for so many years. I wish him all the best.
— Mick Cunningham

Prof. Sharon Jansen —

My lifelong love for British literature began in Sharon Jansen’s Brit Lit I class, which
confirmed my plan to be an English major. The well-worn Norton anthology still sits
in my living room bookcase, even though it’s ugly now. Sharon’s teaching gripped
my imagination, and I didn’t want that semester to end. When my kids were young, I
found juvenile versions of Sir Gawain, Beowulf, and Canterbury Tales so that I could
share these stories with them. She impacted the way I think and the way I read, and
I’m grateful!
Thank you, Sharon. My heartfelt best wishes for rewarding retirement years.
Jill Gardner

Prof. David Seal–

Thank you for making it cool to be weird at PLU. You are the biggest, coolest weirdo of them all, and I am glad that I got to know you early in my PLU life, lest I had been swallowed up by the many squares we did battle with in your Imaging the Self class. Thank you for letting me drop into your office to share all the pains and heartbreak of my early 20s, and for always countering them with the perfect poem or passage. We lost touch for a few years while I was living in Portland, but recently you and your beautiful fiancée came to see my play, and it was so wonderful to reconnect. Keep flying your weirdo flag, and I’ll fly mine.
Mariesa Bus

Prof. Barbara Temple-Thurston–

Barbara’s teaching and guidance has had an indelible impact on my life. I traveled with her to South Africa for J-Term, where we learned about social justice in the time of Apartheid, and which awakened in me a political awareness that has shaped my life ever since. Barbara was also my capstone adviser. My project, about feminist literature from Iraq, Afghanistan, and India, inspired my first-ever all-nighter, and solidified my passion for women’s writing. I remember cozy mornings in Barbara’s office, with Hershey curled up on the floor near the desk, drinking cups of rooibos tea and talking about great books. I still drink rooibos tea every day. Congratulations to Barbara on a well-deserved retirement–she will be greatly missed.
Juliet Mize Disparte