Changing Lives with Discipline and Imagination

Members of Kenyon's board recognize great teaching each year with the Trustee Teaching Excellence Awards, but it's often the students who make the nominations. Who better than students and former students to sing the praises of the 2009 winners, Charles P. McIlvaine Professor of English Perry Lentz '64 and Associate Professor of Biology Robert Mauck.

Lentz, who joined the faculty in 1969 and won a trustee teaching award in 1992, won the award for professors who have been teaching at the College more than ten years. After four decades of teaching at Kenyon, Lentz retired this spring. His name is now fixed on the roll call of iconic English professors with the completion of Lentz House, a new home for the English Department.

Mauck won the award for a faculty member who has been teaching at Kenyon less than ten years. He conducts much of his research on storm-petrels at the Bowdoin Scientific Station at Kent Island in New Brunswick, Canada, and has taken a number of Kenyon students along to take part in the field studies.

On Perry Lentz:

"Perry Lentz, scholar, teacher... recycler? Indeed. Following Denham Sutcliffe's lead, he neatly typed his lectures in salvaged, unbound blue books, heavy with dissections of Walden, The Odyssey, and Gulliver's Travels. Lentz rewrote his notes annually, reflecting his own evolution and that of his students. Cold type of the seventies gave way to the dot-matrix eighties and the laserjet nineties. Blue books multiplied and colonized, until the third day of Paradise Lost could be measured in inches. We like to think that the classics don't change with time, but they do. With care, they improve. By demonstrating that he, too, was in perpetual refinement, Lentz invited students on a lifelong course of study, founded on literature, governed by discipline, guided by imagination, enriched by wisdom. We studied ourselves as much as books. The genius was all around us. I cherish my notes and the thoughtful patterns they formed within me. There's a little Lentz in every good thing I do."
—George Stone '95

"Mr. Lentz approached literature with an awe and enthusiasm that never failed to convey the significance and the privilege of our being able to spend even a very small period of our lives engaged with literary works of defining importance for our culture. He also worked to elevate our views of ourselves as serious students by calling us each Mr. or Ms. This at first seemed funny, but I later appreciated how this civility would extend beyond the classroom and connect us. Upon seeing a fellow Lentz student at a party on Friday night or in the dining hall, we would often greet each other in the same formal, but always warm terms."
—Mary Love '04

"Mr. Lentz showed me that it is not always about the great knowledge that each of us thinks we have; instead, it is about having the ability to think critically and deeply about what is in front of us. His teachings carved out a new groove in my brain and allowed me to read literature in a different way. I am so lucky to have learned under his influence as that groove in my intellect has been one of the most important aspects of my Kenyon education."
—Ava Tanton '08

On Robert Mauck:

"I cannot think of a single professor who has been more of a mentor, inspiration, colleague, and friend, nor has had a more profound effect on my life, than Dr. Robert Mauck. Dr. Mauck provides an ideal learning atmosphere through his expertise in the subject, his ability to intrigue and inspire the student, and his ability to challenge students to further immerse themselves in the study of biology. He had an active role in changing the course of my life. Without
his teaching, guidance and challenges, I would not have found a field of study, which I am excited about making my life's work."
—Jack Cerchiara '06

"Bob draws on his many past careers and experiences to make his teaching enthusiastic, interesting, and funny. It's not uncommon to hear anecdotes of Italian architecture, forest fires in Alaska, and birds on Kent Island in a single "Animal Behavior" lecture. He can captivate a classroom for an hour as he discusses the intricacies of barnacle behavior. As a research mentor, he has always encouraged me to go beyond my comfort zone and to think creatively to become a better scientist. And, perhaps most importantly, he always emphasizes the importance of finding your passion in order to lead a fulfilled and exciting life."
—Priscilla Erickson '09

"Acknowledging that it is cliché, I have to say that my life would not be the same without having been advised by Bob Mauck. He joined the faculty at Kenyon at a time when I was questioning my decision to be on the pre-vet track. I enrolled in Bob's first "Animal Behavior" course and it blew my mind. Due to vast knowledge of the subject and a relaxed and interactive teaching style, Bob effectively taught that class right off the bat and it was an amazing journey into the animal world. Bob is enthusiastic, encouraging, and compassionate and has a zest for life that is contagious. His mind produces a never-ending string of biological questions that he discusses with students freely, treating students as scientific colleagues instead of as nineteen-year-olds. Yes, he helped me learn facts about ecology, but, more importantly, he engaged me in the scientific process and provided an example of a life that included constant inquiry of and respect for nature. I have never second-guessed my decision to leave veterinary medicine for a career in wildlife biology."
--Jenny Glazer '04

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