Friday, September 6, 2013

The Influence of Professors

The most interesting article I read this week (and the best headline) was "Majoring in a Professor."  It was the report of a forthcoming book from Harvard University Press titled How College Works.

Sociology research on how students choose a major concluded that professors are very important and that the first professor you encounter in a degree program may be the most important.

"Faculty determine students' taste for academic fields by acting as gatekeepers, either by welcoming them into an area of knowledge, encouraging and inspiring them to explore it, or by raising the costs of entry so high so as to effectively prohibit continuing in it," authors Christopher Takacs and Daniel Chambliss write.

This affirms my experience.  Dr. James Cagley may not have been my very first business school professor, but I encountered him early in my studies.  A former advertising executive and University of Minnesota Ph.D., his passion for the discipline changed me, stirring something within me that I didn't know was there.  More than three decades later, I am still excited by the same psychological, sociological  and economic theories of business that inspired him.

LeTourneau faculty are the most influential people on our campus.  As I write, they are changing eternity for our students by the way they inspire, encourage, and direct.  When they have a bad day, our students have a bad day.  But when our best faculty are at their best, living an energized passion for their field of study and the God who is Lord of that discipline, our students are transformed; perhaps even redeemed.