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ISSUE 118 VOL 13 PUBLISHED 3/11/2005

New faculty appointments named

By Jean Mullins
News Editor

Friday, March 11, 2005

This past month, St. Olaf made several announcements concerning new faculty appointments. John Barbour, professor of religion, was named the new Martin E. Marty Chair in Religion and the Academy. DeAne Lagerquist, professor of religion, will serve the college as the new Lilly Vocational Scholar, while Mary Titus, associate professor of English, will assume the role of head of the Center for Integrative Studies.

Barbour hopes his new appointment will allow him to pursue two interests: travel narratives as a window to religious journeys and vocation as shaped by one’s family. Barbour relates the idea of travel as a religious journey to the St. Olaf study abroad opportunities. "How does it illuminate what we’re about?" He asked.

He also wants to emphasize the question, "How do people get a sense of vocation?" He hopes to answer this through studying the family’s impact on a person’s choice of life service.

Barbour has enjoyed a long career at St. Olaf. He has taught since 1982 and served as chair of the religion department from 1998-2001. His Ph. D. in religion and literature led him to focus on ethical and theological qualms in literature and autobiography. He enjoys kayaking and autobiographies.

The Martin E. Marty Chair is named for Dr. Martin E. Marty, the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago and a friend of St. Olaf. He served as Interim President and Senior Regent and is also a Lutheran minister.

Lagerquist succeeded Doug Schuurman as the St. Olaf Lilly Vocational Scholar as part of the St. Olaf Program for Lives of Worth and Service.

In her new capacity, she will write an article which responds to four studies done as part of a conversation on the trend of colleges and universities towards the desecularization of higher education.

St. Olaf was one participant in the study. Lagerquist feels that St. Olaf is an example of higher education as a way of loving the world, and that secularization is not necessarily a bad thing.

During her stint as Lilly Scholar, Lagerquist will also write a book on how higher education teaches students to love the world in a way that translates to public life. This is part of the mission of St. Olaf’s Program for Lives of Worth and Service, which encourages vocations in service.

Lagerquist explained that Lutherans have been interested in vocation, meaningful work and service since Martin Luther.

She uses a metaphor of dancing to describe vocation: "It is turning to dance with your neighbor having been embraced by God," Lagerquist said.

Lagerquist will also support student internships to service posts, such as ministry.

Titus assumes the position of director of the Center for Integrative Studies, which allows students to create and individualize majors.

"I am committed to interdisciplinary learning and hope to continue to develop that strength at the college," she said.

One of her goals is to strengthen the ties between departments and to get all faculty involved in the center, particularly those who are newer to St. Olaf. She also wants the college in general to be more aware of what the Center is doing.

Titus pointed out that many of the majors now available at St. Olaf were at one point an integrative program.

She used the example of the environmental studies major, which involves science and humanities courses.

She also cited the Asian studies major as another example of a major that started as an integrative program.

She described the Center for Integrative Studies as "the seeds and roots to building other categories."

St. Olaf’s dedication to comprehensive knowledge can be seen in its general education requirements, Titus said. "Knowledge doesn’t stay in categories," she said.

Titus will not begin her position until next September.

All these professors hope to further the goals of the college through their new positions.

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