Kenyon celebrates its graduates--and they return the favor--on Honors Day

To James D. Cox '60, Kenyon will always be the place where he learned that students and faculty members can challenge one another's views without rancor--the sort of spirited discourse that would later stimulate his own work in cancer research. For John B. Hattendorf '64, the College was where he developed a friendship with a professor whose words would one day change the course of Hattendorf's life, steering him toward a career as a naval historian and author. And for Julia Miller Vick '73, Kenyon helped build the confidence needed to succeed in a wide range of endeavors in academia, career counseling, and home life.

The three reflected on their Kenyon experiences when they were presented honorary degrees during the Honors Day Convocation on April 15. Cox received a doctor of science degree from the College, while Hattendorf and Vick were given doctor of humane letters degrees.

"This is one of those experiences in life for which there is no preparation," said Cox, head of the Division of Radiation Oncology and professor and chair of radiation oncology at the University of Texas's M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. During his distinguished career, he has conducted extensive research on the use of radiation therapy to treat cancer. Cox has published numerous articles in medical journals and served on national and international medical committees and editorial boards.

He said his Kenyon education--with its emphasis on "vigorous discussion," writing, and freedom for students to make their own choices--has served him well. "At Kenyon, I found a lack of paternalism," said Cox. "There seemed to be a clear recognition that maximal intellectual growth takes place in an atmosphere of freedom. As always, some suffered from too much freedom, but in a larger sense the benefits for the community greatly outweighed the risks."

Author of many highly regarded books and essays on naval history and strategies, Hattendorf talked at length about a figure in Kenyon's history--former Professor of History Richard G. Salomon. He recalled that Salomon had the greatest impact on him, even though the revered teacher was retired and past eighty years old when Hattendorf attended Kenyon in the early 1960s. Confined to his home by a broken bone, Salomon counted on Hattendorf to bring him books--one for each day of the week, each in a different language--from the library. Student and mentor then discussed literature and history over tea.

After graduation, Hattendorf joined the U.S. Navy and was sent to sea during the Vietnam War. During a "depressed and aggravated moment," he vented his despair in a letter to Salomon, who had served in the German army during World War I and later suffered at the hands of Adolph Hitler's regime. "His wise response has been a guide for me in all that I've done since," recalled Hattendorf. "He knew well what he wrote to me: +Remember, my dear John, that every human experience is grist upon the historian's mill.' That insight from Gambier opened my eyes to look differently at the events and activities around meat sea."

Hattendorf said he began to realize that the sea is emblematic of the "wide stretch of the human experience" and that man's reactions to it are reflected in everything from music and literature to law and imperial rivalry. "It touches on the greatest moments of the human spirit as well as the worst, including war," said Hattendorf, now Ernest J. King Professor of Maritime History and director of advanced research at the U.S. Naval War College.

For Vick, life after Kenyon has taken some interesting twists and turns. The College's first woman to major in classics, she went on to earn master's degrees in library science from Simmons College and folklore and folklife from the University of Pennsylvania. As a writer, Vick has produced the standard reference book in English on modern Greek folklore and is coauthor of The Academic Job Search Handbook. She founded the After Kenyon Library and is a long-time College volunteer. The mother of three children and wife of James W. Vick '74, she now serves as a graduate career counselor at the University of Pennsylvania.

"Kenyon has always made me feel that I have the ability to do anything," said Vick. "The Kenyon experience makes one flexible, capable of learning new areas quickly, able to start new things, and able to not be afraid to say you don't know something but will find out about it."

Also on Honors Day, Professor of Classics William E. McCulloh and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Rosemary A. Marusak were presented Trustee Awards for Distinguished Teaching. The College also presented the William A. Long Memorial Award to Dean for Academic Advising Liz Keeney.

Established in 1988 by the College's Board of Trustees, the Awards for Distinguished Teaching annually recognize two faculty members for their outstanding teaching contributions. One of the awards goes to a faculty member who has taught at Kenyon for more than ten years, while the other is presented to a faculty member who has taught no more than ten years.

A member of the faculty since 1961, McCulloh teaches the language, literature, and culture of ancient Greece. He has earned several honors for his exemplary teaching, including the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching's Ohio Professor of the Year Award in 1995, the Sears-Roebuck Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1991, and the American Philosophical Association's Excellence in Teaching Award in 1985.

In presenting the award to McCulloh, Kenyon Trustee William A. Stroud said, "Professor McCulloh has served as a model for outstanding teaching at Kenyon. The trustees acknowledge with deep gratitude and pleasure his students' and colleagues' abiding appreciation for his many years of excellence in teaching at the College."

A member of the faculty since 1993, Marusak teaches a variety of courses in chemistry, including those that focus on molecular structure and chemical properties, advanced laboratory work, inorganic chemistry, and bioinorganic chemistry. She is especially active in collaborating with students on researchprojects, teaming with them to present their findings at national scientific conferences.

"Professor Marusak has inspired, challenged, and delighted students in the teaching of chemistry," said Stroud. "Her radiant enthusiasm, devotion to excellence in her field, and outstanding mentorship provide a model for outstanding teaching at Kenyon and all liberal-arts colleges."

Keeney was recognized with the William A. Long Memorial Award because of her commitment to "keeping students on a solid academic track," according to Associate Provost Robert E. Bennett, who presented the award. A member of the College's student-affairs staff since 1991, Keeney left Kenyon this summer to take up graduate studies at the Earlham School of Religion.

"My Kenyon education is present in virtually everything I do"

Editor's note: The following remarks were delivered by John B. Hattendorf '64, Ernest J. King Professor at the Naval War College, who was awarded an honorary doctorate at Kenyon's annual Honors Day Convocation on April 15, 1997.

M ore than a century ago, John Henry Newman reminded us that a place such as Kenyon College is "not a foundry, or a mint, or a treadmill," but "an alma mater, knowing her children one by one."

Thank you, Mr. President, for remembering me as one of Kenyon's many children. As I look back across a third of a century since I was an undergraduate here, I clearly recognize that my Kenyon education is present in virtually everything I do. Yet, an undergraduate education is so complex and so subtle an intertwining of personality with books, ideas, colleagues, teachers, and subsequent experience that its true essence is virtually invisible to conscious memory, even though its result expresses one's own spirit. In this sense, certainly Gordon Chalmers was right when he told Kenyon students that "the mystery of education eludes all description."

He was right, too, when he stressed that it makes a world of difference who one's teachers are. Certainly, I can find in my daily professional life the guidelines that were laid down here for me in Gambier. Typical of Kenyon's distinctive approach, Kenyon teachers made their contributions both inside and outside the classroom. All made important contributions and some gave me thoughtful advice that I continue to use every day.

Of all my teachers at Kenyon, the one who made the greatest impact on me was one I never met in a classroom. He was Professor Richard Salomon, then past eighty years old. We met by a strange coincidence, sharing an acquired taste for hunting dead bishops in the library. When we first met, he was housebound after a fall and a broken bone, and, for many months, my job was to go along to his house (now the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations and Annual Funds) once a week, carrying the things he needed from the library. His basic request was always the same: seven books, one book for each day of the week, each book in a different language. Upon delivering the books, I was expected to stay for tea. After twenty minutes or so of pleasant conversation, Mrs. Salomon would withdraw, leaving Dr. Salomon to launch off on some subject that interested him and that he felt might be beneficial to me. We talked of many things: his days as a graduate student at the University of Berlin before 1907, his work as an editor for the Monumenta Germaniae Historica, and various topics in fourteenth-century medieval and ecclesiastical history. In the process, I had my first lessons in the basic skills I still regularly use in paleography and documentary editing. Over those interesting months, we came to a mutual understanding that I would eventually go on to do graduate work in history, specializing particularly in medieval church studies.

It was a good plan, and it was certainly my intention when I left here in 1964, but something went astray. I had the curious idea that I might want to do something adventurous beforesettling down to the scholarly life. I had particularly enjoyed reading Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Joseph Conrad, and Herman Melville while at Kenyon. Like many a fool before me, I somehow thought that I might briefly experience their understanding of the sea. How was I to know that, on the day after I joined the U.S. Navy, someone would start a war in a place called Vietnam and that I would soon be there?

Having just graduated from the pleasures of Gambier into the midst of a naval bureaucracy at war, it must have been at a particularly depressed and aggravated moment that I wrote to Professor Salomon, describing my new life at sea. His wise response, however, was one that has been a guideline for me in all I have done since. As a scholar and a man who had served in the Imperial German Army in the First World War and earned the Iron Cross, he had known, at firsthand, the brutality of the Nazi regime that had disrupted his own life and banned him from his academic chair at the University of Hamburg in 1934, he knew well wherewith he wrote to me: "Remember, my dear John, that every human experience is grist upon the historian's mill."

That insight from Gambier opened my eyes to look differently at the events and activity around me at sea. There I was with some personal experience and where scholarly insight seemed rare. It is a wide stretch of human experience that ranges along the frontier where humanity meets and reacts to that vast desert we call the ocean. The reactions can be theological, as the psalmist sang of "They that go down to the sea in ships." Yet, man's reactions to the sea also find expression in music and literature as well as in the issues of geography, economics, law, trade, transportation, social affairs, the history of science, technology, and imperial rivalry. It is a subject that touches on both the greatest moments of the human spirit as well as on the worst, including war.

Chance has led me to spend many years of my scholarly life at an institution called the Naval War College, a name which some people objected to, even when it was founded more than a century ago. But the purpose of the name is to keep in focus the fact that the institution's fundamental purpose is not to promote war or to make better warriors but, through original research, to try to understand and to improve insight into a very serious matter in human history: the range of political, military, economic, historical, and legal matters relating to warfare at sea, to statesmanship connected with such warfare, and to its prevention.

Such things seem distant from this place, but even here, in the cornfields of Ohio far from the sounds of ships and the ocean, we are in a town named for an admiral of the Royal Navy. The waters of the Kokosing River must tumble for many days before they reach the sea, but that is their ultimate destination. So, too, Kenyon's liberal-arts education drives us to look beyond the immediate circumstances around us, to look continually for a fundamental understanding of human nature and man's place in the cosmos. It leads us to the interplay of varying perspectives on broad and fundamental issues. This thought leads me to think that if a scholar in the liberal arts is to make a positive contribution to knowledge on a subject, however small or limited,it can be neither isolated nor remote but always linked to some broader problem, general interest, or deeper understanding. Whatever we call our little subspecialty, the fundamental issue is to understand the full range, in human dimensions, of how we have managed to get to where we are.

I am grateful to Kenyon for showing me the way toward that understanding.

--John B. Hattendorf

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