Director of the Bryan Institute and Professor of Theology Daryl Charles has been with Bryan for four years. The Bryan Triangle conducted an email interview with Charles after the college announced that it was not renewing his contract. Below is the full transcript.
How long have you taught here?
What are your plans/opportunities you are you pursuing after Bryan?
I have three options: (1) to continue to nurture Christian liberal arts education in the widest and best sense at an institution that embraces this vision innovatively and without reserve, while continuing to strengthen the wider academy and the church through research and writing; (2) do public-policy research; (3) apply for a research fellowship at a research university for the 2013/14 academic year, which will serve as bridge between Bryan and a future teaching position.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned over your time here?
I’ve been reminded of five critically important, irreplaceable and related components to education: (1) the importance of a full-orbed, comprehensive vision of liberal arts education that is creative, innovative and seeking a standard of excellence, all of which together facilitate a robust witness to the culture (not just to the alumni or “friends” of the institution); (2) the importance of a single-minded commitment to higher education on the part of a college or university (it needs reiterating that educational institutions, inclusive of Christian colleges and universities, are not spiritual retreat centers); (3) the importance of vision for developing resources (foremost, financial resources), since resources are needed to facilitate and realize an academic vision; (4) the importance — indeed, the imperative — of a unity and “mutually informed” attitude between faculty and administration, inasmuch as administrative decisions — from the very top – can potentially disregard rather than represent academic and faculty concerns; (5) the importance of educating the College’s Board of Trustees, who need not only to monitor the institution’s faithfulness to (perceived) Christian vision but also to measure its “faithfulness” to the calling of being an “institution of higher learning”.
Any favorite memories?
Four come immediately to mind: (1) lunch with students discussing, theology, culture and life; (2) supporting our athletes, who very much appreciate faculty support (and this faculty member was once a collegiate athlete!); (3) evenings of food, fun and frivolity with faculty colleagues in downtown Chattanooga; (4) rich discussions with and among my students in class, in the realization that we were wrestling with important issues and on the cusp of grasping some fleeting insight.
Why will you not be returning next school year?
I was summarily informed – without prior discussion, intimation or input — that (1) the Bryan Institute was being eliminated and (2) the number of “Christian Thought” majors did not justify extending my part-time teaching position (part-time because of my BI [Bryan Institute] responsibilities) into a full-time position.
How were you approached about your contract?
I was informed by the President( Dr. Stephen Livesay), in a meeting with the President and the VPAA, on the first day of the Spring semester classes that (1) the BI was being eliminated and (2) I would not have my contract as a faculty member retained beyond the present academic year (which officially ends June 30)
How did you come to Bryan?
I was an invited speaker at one of the early “Bryan Center” symposia, the theme of which was war and peace (a topic on which I have published three books). This initial visit to
Bryan, which took place during the 2007/8 academic year while I was a visiting fellow in religion and public life at the James Madison Program in the Department of Politics at Princeton University, was positive. It resulted in an invitation, extended by Bryan’s President, to join the Bryan community as director of the Bryan Center (which was to become the Bryan Institute).