Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dr. Christopher Burkett Receives Teaching Award

To kick off our new departmental blog "History and Politics @ AU" we are reproducing here Dr. Christopher Burkett's speech accepting the Edward and Louaine Taylor Excellence in Teaching Award, one of the greatest honors an Ashland University faculty member can receive. Dr. Burkett will say most beautifully what we in the Department of History and Political Science @ AU aspire to in our teaching. Now here in his own words:

"I’m extremely honored to receive the Edward and Louaine Taylor Excellence in Teaching Award. 
Dr. Christopher Burkett
Sadly, Mr. and Mrs. Taylor are no longer with us. Mrs. Taylor passed away nine years ago, and Mr. Taylor last year at the well-seasoned age of 100.  And so we inherit task of honoring their memories and keeping alive their love of this university, today and in the future.  I did not have the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Taylor, but I did meet Mr. Taylor.  Those who knew Mr. Taylor describe him as a man of amazing character, with a mind forever young and lively, and a heart that was noble and beautiful.   His life was dedicated to excellence in all things.  He expected it of himself and he helped to cultivate it in others.  And Mrs. Taylor, I am told, majored in art in college, a reflection of her love of beauty in all things, especially as it manifested itself in perfection.  I want to say just a few things about these two virtues of Mr. and Mrs. Taylor – their love of excellence and love of beauty, of how, in many ways, the two things are inseparable, and how the pursuit of those things can be the very essence of the pursuit of happiness.
But first let me say that in addition to being honored by the award I am extremely humbled by the fact that we have so many outstanding teachers among our faculty at Ashland University.  This sets us apart from so many other colleges and universities.  This is one of the reasons – the main reason – that I am standing here today.  As an undergraduate student at Ashland College, I knew or took classes from many of the fine faculty here today.  And this is also why I titled my talk “Education and the Pursuit of Happiness,” because it is partly autobiographical.  I tried my hand at college after graduating from high school, and it was awful!  I lasted about five weeks and dropped out.  I found it to be a dreadfully boring, cold and sterile experience.   In my classes there was a lot of professing, but not a lot of teaching, as we understand that term here at Ashland University.