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Southwestern University Announces new Paideia Professors

Southwestern University recently announced the names of faculty members who have been selected to serve as inaugural “Paidiea Professors.”

The selection derives from a recent $8.5 million award from the Robert & Ruby Priddy Charitable Trust of Wichita Falls, Texas, to establish the Paideia (pronounced pie-DAY-uh) Program-an innovative multi-year experience that supports the University’s focus on enriching its rigorous, undergraduate liberal arts education. Paideia is a Greek word that means the sum total of one’s educational experience.

Paideia Professors will play a vital role as faculty mentors in helping students make intentional connections among their classroom and out-of-classroom experiences in ways that encourage them to reflect on what they learned and how they grew through each experience. Such reflection supports what liberal arts study aims to do: encourage students to become critical thinkers and broaden their perspective on the world around them. Paideia Professors will guide and assist each student in the formulation of a series of experiences-collaborative, intercultural, leadership and service-that will best complement the students’ academic pursuits.

Paideia students will participate in three to five seminars per academic year led by their Paideia Professor at the onset of the fall and spring semesters and, the final one, before the close of the academic year. These seminars will be the centerpiece of the Paideia Program. The seminars held early in the semesters will secure the missions of experiences to come, while the final, annual one will serve as a forum or conference where Paideia students will collectively reflect, observe and hear what each of the group members has gained from this education. This sharing and reflection will culminate in students’ producing collections of written, spoken or artistic expressions.

In addition to 10 new tenure-track faculty positions, created to cover courses that have been taught by Paideia Professors, the grant supports a limited number of program scholarships, and funding for a program director. It also introduces two challenge grants to encourage support for the Center for Lifelong Learning facility and a larger pool of program scholarships.

Southwestern’s new Paideia Professors are:

  • Sherry Adrian, associate professor and chair of the Department of Education;
  • Suzanne Buchele, assistant professor of mathematics and computer science;
  • John Chapman, professor of mathematics and computer science;
  • Dirk Early, associate professor of economics and business;
  • David Gaines, associate professor and chair of the Department of English;
  • Hal Haskell, professor of classics;
  • Tim O’Neill, professor of political science and holder of the Tower-Hester Chair in Political Science;
  • John Ore, assistant professor of theatre
  • Rebecca Sheller, associate professor and chair of the Department of Biology;
  • Patrick Veerkamp, professor of art

In addition, Suzanne Chamier, professor of French and chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, will participate in the planning process and will serve as a “substitute” for Paideia Professors who may take a leave during their three-year term.

The Paideia Program will be inaugurated in the fall of 2003. In preparation, Paideia Professors will help develop a system for selecting students to participate in the program. As many as 100 students from the current first-year class will be among those participating in the program when it launches next fall. Southwestern hopes that the Paideia Program will be expanded to include all Southwestern students.