Popular Life Stories convocation to take place March 8
March 1, 2012 By Elizabeth Trollinger
Associate Professor of Mathematics Alex McAllister, NEH
Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy David Hall and
Assistant Professor of English John Kinkade.
Centre College’s annual Life Stories convocation will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 8 in Weisiger Theatre. The convocation features three faculty members who tell stories and give advice to students, and this year’s three speakers are Assistant Professor of English John Kinkade, NEH Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy David Hall and Associate Professor of Mathematics Alex McAllister.
“This event at Centre is sponsored by the leadership honor society Omicron Delta Kappa, and the student members of ODK select the speakers through a nomination and election process,” McAllister says. “Since I became the faculty advisor for ODK in 2005, I've encouraged ODK to pick a faculty member for each of the three divisions, and that seems to have worked really well. I am really honored to have been picked to be a speaker this year.”
The professors generally have free range over what they speak about at the convocation and look forward to sharing their stories and experiences with students.
“I think that my primary emphasis will be on the idea that our lives are not inevitable — for most of us, life is not a neatly organized story of one thing leading necessarily to the next. Instead, there are moments of decision, moments of accident and choices and there are consequences for those choices,” says Kinkade. “Some things get closed off forever, and some new opportunities arise. Also, I want to tell a few stories about things that I assume matter to the students: falling in love, choosing a career, moving away from the nurturing world of dear mother Centre.”
“I’ll probably talk about various events in life that led me to do what I’m doing, but I haven’t completely sorted that out yet,” says Hall. “I’ll probably start with my earliest memory: a conversation I had with my father about God, which screwed me up for life. Other than that, it’s still kind of hazy.”
“To be honest, I'm still working out what I am going to say and what pictures I am going to show next week. I have some rough ideas in mind — stories from growing up, being in various schools and living here in Danville while teaching at Centre,” McAllister says. “I'm hoping to share an interesting blend of tales about my three great loves in life — God, family and math.”
The fact that this convocation is usually a student favorite only makes the three professors more excited about speaking.
“I think it's fantastic that students are so interested in this convo,” says McAllister. “I'm sure part of that interest comes from the ‘personal education’ side of being at Centre — there really are close bonds between faculty and students here, and what a great chance to hear some life reflections from some pretty interesting people. And I say this as a faculty member who's gone to many of these to learn from my colleagues.”
Having the opportunity to show students a different side of themselves than they might see in the classroom is also appealing to the three faculty members.
“I think that some students can think about professors a bit like they think about their grade school teachers: when we're kids, we're surprised to realize that teachers have actual, normal lives outside the classroom. I think a huge percentage of the population remembers the shock of seeing a teacher at the grocery store, as though the teacher had been let out of the zoo for a night,” says Kinkade. “We're being let out of the zoo for a few minutes next Thursday. To let Alex McAllister out for the whole night might be a little dangerous. To let David Hall out for the whole night would certainly be dangerous.”
For a complete schedule of convocations this spring, click here.
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Centre College, founded in 1819 and chosen to host its second Vice Presidential Debate in 2012, is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges, at 42nd in the nation, and ranks 27th for best value among national liberal arts colleges. Forbes magazine ranks Centre 34th among all the nation’s colleges and universities and has named Centre in the top five among all institutions of higher education in the South for three years in a row. Centre is also ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News for its study abroad program. For more, click here.