Remarks by Pamela Caughie, PhD, 2012 Award Winner
Thank you, Gordon. And thank you to Rich Bowen and his committee who selected me for this honor. And to the president and provost for making this award possible.
What a wonderful way to mark my 25th year at Loyola. And after looking at the 45 year history of this award on the Faculty Council website, I am proud to take my place among the 7 1/2 women who have received this honor before me. (I say 1/2 because one year Micael Clarke and David Schweickhart shared this award, not because my colleague Mike is any less of a woman.)
I love what I do. And I am aware every day of my life how privileged I am to be able to say that. Far too many people in this world do not like let alone love the work they do. Hours spent discussing and editing a student’s or colleague’s essay are, for me, not hours lost from my own work, but pleasure gained from an exchange of ideas with others whose interests and passions become my own, at least for that moment of mutuality. I feel fortunate every day that I am able to do what I love to do, and that enjoyment in my work is what I hope to pass onto my students. I see my primary role as a Loyola faculty member as modeling the passion for ideas and the generosity of spirit that enables liberal education to work.
When we acknowledge colleagues for these awards, we recite their curriculum vitae as evidence of their merit. The phrase means, in the original Latin, "the course of one's life." As academics our lives are literally in our writing, our research, our teaching. We acknowledge that every time we ask for a CV rather than a resumé, a list of jobs, skills, and accomplishments. I want to fill in that outline of the course of my life by telling you how I have spent some of my Saturdays over the past several years.
In Spring 2007 I spent many pleasurable Saturdays in the seminar room of Piper Hall with a dozen colleagues from across the College discussing our research and teaching and sharing our essays on the topic of human sexuality and gender diversity. It was a seminar organized by Patti Jung and Aana Vigen in Theology and sponsored by the Center for Catholic Intellectual Heritage. That exchange of ideas culminated in a public symposium here in Fall 2007 and in a collection of essays, God, Science, Sex, Gender: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Christian Ethics, in 2010, which features many of you.
Another series of Saturdays in different years (actually we met various days of the week but it's rhetorically more effective to keep it Saturday). I met in coffee shops throughout the city with my colleagues Vicky Anderson and Missy Bradshaw (and before Missy, my dear friend and mentor Anne Callahan) and with anywhere from 6 to 10 graduate students who were presenting conference papers for the first time that term. We workshopped drafts of their papers, helping them to hone their arguments, clarify their language, tighten their syntax for oral presentation. Then we'd meet again and the students to deliver their papers in a mock conference setting, with us playing the audience, asking questions to prepare them for the Q&A, critiquing their deliveries, even offering advice on their attire. As often as I could I would attend their conferences and take much pride in seeing the product of our labors. For the Loyola students clearly outperformed their peers from other universities.
Yet another series of Saturdays in 2008 in the library at Northwestern University with my undergraduate research assistant, Katie Schaag. Together we read the first ten years of The Listener magazine, the journal of the BBC, for a research project I was engaged in on sound technology in the early 20th century. We would marvel at some of articles that were still relevant 80 years later; we'd laugh at some of the ads and admire the dresses and hats of women in the photographs. And I would give her mini history lessons as we came across articles, photographs and reviews of authors, places, and events with which I was familiar. We presented that research together at a professional conference at Notre Dame the next year, and when I gave a lecture on that project at one of Peter Shillingsburg's day conferences here in 2010, Katie, then a PhD student in English at the University of Wisconsin, came back to introduce me. That was especially gratifying. Would that teaching were always so personal and so pleasurable.
Scholarship, teaching, service. One needs to do all three with equal joy and enthusiasm if one is to model professionalism for others. Keeping up one’s research is actually so much a part of the trinity that it would be impossible not to do it. To that end, Loyola has provided me with many opportunities for integrating these equally important tasks: e.g., teaching a interdisciplinary, intercollegiate seminar at the Newberry Library with Ayana Karanja that led to a new research project for me; co-authoring articles with my friends, Anne Callahan in Modern Languages and Jennifer Parks in Philosophy; studying with many of you on fellowships at the Center for Ethics; engaging in research with undergraduate and graduate students. These are opportunities I don't believe I would have had elsewhere. All are memorable for enabling my own scholarship while allowing me to support and learn from others. I thank the many chairs, deans, provosts and presidents with whom I've served over the years for making that possible.
We have all had those gratifying moments when the effort we put into our work is recognized by another. Receiving this award is one such moment. But equally or more important is the recognition we get in our day-to-day work as faculty, when the pressure of deadlines, the hours of meetings, the mountains of papers can be overwhelming. I couldn't have more support or a better model of the spirit of generosity that makes our university thrive than my chair Joyce Wexler. Thank you, Joyce, for always listening, for encouraging me, supporting me, and acknowledging my efforts. And I want to thank you, my friends and colleagues, my comrades in arms and sometimes partners in crime, for all you do. For I know this award doesn't go to those who are the exception but to those who are the rule. What I have done in my 25 years here is simply model what a Loyola faculty member is. My life's course has been enabled by this institution that is us, encouraged by your example, supported by your friendship and hard work. and made lighter by your good humor and mutual love of martinis. So thanks to all of you for making it possible for me to stand here today and say with all sincerity, I love what I do.
Please allow me one moment more to introduce my family members here with me today. My husband and salsa partner, Doug Petcher, who for the last 25 years has been trying to teach me how to say the word "no." Our son, Evan, who was in the very first preschool class at Loyola 18 years ago and is now finishing his last semester of course work at Western Illinois University, where he is an honor student and president of his lacrosse club (his mother says proudly). My brother Bill Caughie from Pittsburgh, my big brother who is still besting me: I got faculty member of the year, Bill's company awarded him salesman of the decade. And my mom, Betty Miller. My mother was with me 25 years ago for my first Dean's Convocation and I'm so pleased she's here with me now to share this moment. We're gathered together this weekend not just for this occasion but to celebrate my mother's birthday. On Tuesday, September 11th, she will be 88 years old. I can only hope that I have my mother's mental sharpness and physical stamina when I'm 88. Oh hell, when I'm 68! I hope some of you might join me at the reception in toasting my mother's continued good health.