How would you define “values?"
I see values as a set of navigation tools we use to find our way. I value forgiveness; that is my compass. I value diversity; that is the sky of stars above. I value curiosity; that is my telescope. I value honesty; that is my map. I value vulnerability; that is my sextant. When we know our values like we know our navigation tools, we can find our way to the best decisions more effectively. Our values must be examined for flaws and imperfections. They must be adjusted or repaired if need arises. But, if my values are right if I inspect them and find them to be true and just then when I am lost, my values guide me to safety.
What does the Rosemont Mission mean to you?
“Rosemont College is a community of learners dedicated to excellence and joy in the pursuit of knowledge.” For me, the meaning in these words grows from the marvelous use of the word joy. Joy is not simply happiness. The word joy suggests being connected to the divine—something larger than ourselves and not fully understood during this material existence. These words speak to me about a fulfilling life with ideas, with others, and with something beyond understanding.
“Rosemont College seeks to develop in all members of the community open and critical minds, the ability to make reasoned, moral decisions, and a sense of responsibility to serve others in our global society.” This tells me that the College is working hard to become a place where students are challenged to be thoughtful and loving citizens of the world—that money takes a backseat to people and well-reasoned—well-researched—ideas.
“Rooted in Catholicism, Rosemont College welcomes all faiths and is guided by the educational principles of Cornelia Connelly and the Society of the Holy Child Jesus to meet the needs of the time.” Rosemont College looks back for strength, forward for purpose.
“Rosemont College values: Trust in and reverence for the dignity of each person; Diversity with a commitment to building an intercultural community; Persistence and courage in promoting justice with compassion; Care for the earth as our common home.” These four values suggest to me that the College for which I work sees people as souls on a journey—souls connected to realities of a material existence awash in the diversity of our fragile planet—souls that deserve fairness and kindness during this temporary journey back to the divine. At least that’s the meaning I take from this, and I like that.
If you were a shoe, what kind would you be and why?
If I was a shoe...well, it depends on the day. Most days I try to behave like a pair of comfortable slippers.
Would you rather have two tickets to the Super Bowl or two tickets to the White House Correspondents' Dinner?
Dream tickets? I would love to score some tickets to the annual White House Correspondent’s Association Dinner. As someone who makes a living in words, this event marks a high point in the year. My fascination with politics and joke telling comes together for this weird evening of laughs, groans, awkward silences, and sometimes side-splitting zingers that no one expects. Is it all a bit of theater? Is the press really being criticized? Is the president really being criticized? The answer to both questions is no. But, it’s still entertaining. So entertaining, in fact, that if I didn’t score tickets, I would still make a big bowl of popcorn and watch it at home on C-Span. That’s a fine night at home. A fine night, indeed.
Campus Involvement: Publishing program, blogger for SGPS
Name 5 things you love (other than your family) or love doing?
Let’s see, I love finding a first edition in a bookstore. I also love that moment when great questions bubble up from an invigorating discussion. And, I guess, that could all happen in a classroom, or with my third love: the aroma of a warm fireplace paired with friends and a good scotch (is that three things?). I also love letting a good poem carry me through the day and help someone find the right words.
What goal are you currently trying to achieve?
As for a goal I’m working on? I’m always aiming to walk a few more miles this month
than I did last month.
Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired in my professional pursuits by thinking about ideas that helped the world to see itself differently. Paulo Freire’s critique of education, Peter Elbow’s suggestions for writing instruction, bell hooks’ argument that we must be more aware of how race, class, and gender affect the classroom. On a day-to-day level, I am inspired by the work of my friends in arenas as diverse as the arts to zoning regulations.
Where is the furthest place you have traveled?
The furthest I’ve ever been from Philadelphia in miles would be the beach on the edge of the Adriatic in the Italian town of Pescara. In another sense, graduate school dislocated me from the physical world and pushed me, intellectually, to my limits. It was amazing.
Favorite college memory? (from which college?)
I will never forget being a young graduate student earning praise from the illustrious Colin McCabe at the University of Pittsburgh for my careful delivery of a section of “The Dry Salvages” from T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets. It was a simple, “You read that well” or something similar, but it meant a great deal to me as I studied poetry. That feeling of pride was only part of the magic of that moment. The other magic was in the fact that somehow I had managed to carry the emotional weight of Eliot’s words into our small classroom that night. It was a cold spring evening. Our small class was gathered around a table in the classroom. As I was reading I felt transformed. Goosebumps ran down my arm, and the classroom felt otherworldly. It was McCabe’s words that confirmed something special had happened and he brought us back to the room.
What advice would you give to your college self?
If I could talk to my college self—Marshall from approximately the fall 1994 through December 1998 at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA—I would tell him, “Hey Marshall, it’s going to be fine. Relax. Keep taking notes. Keep recording what you are experiencing with pen on paper—you’re only going to be here once. Love those around you. Keep working hard. Keep making the time to explore the city. Keep making time to develop meaningful friendships that nourish you intellectually and emotionally. Don’t forget to exercise and eat right. Start saving for retirement with an IRA—just a few bucks a month.”