My Favorite Teacher, the Final Installment
We asked alumni to write about their favorite CUA professors
A Life-Altering Intoxicant
I have always loved literature. Since childhood, words danced on the pages as I read; the written word intoxicated me. Yet this course took my interest to a higher level. It challenged me and I looked forward to every minute of the class. I often sat engrossed in the discussion; my pen was ready to record thought-provoking ideas that surfaced each day. For someone who carelessly and embarrassingly slept through many … gasp … 9 a.m. classes during freshman year, this course called me to task and imperceptibly brought me from the depths of idleness and apathy to a proactive and sincere approach to my studies.
Not only did I enjoy the course, but I admired and respected Dr. Wheatley, took many of his subsequent courses and encouraged countless friends to do the same.
Ironically, or maybe not, I had an equally life-altering experience in Dr. Ernest Suarez’s class my junior year. Some of my classmates knew that Dr. Wheatley and Dr. Suarez were friends, and we imagined this duo sharing clandestine English department meetings and operating some kind of literary think tank out of Marist Hall. In the clear light of my 30s, this concept seems flawed and borderline fantastic, but it sustained and intrigued many of us through our late teens.
Suarez’s style was different from Wheatley’s, but certainly as engaging. In Dr. Suarez’s class, I started to understand how writing is a craft and how challenging words can be. I never worked so hard for my grades, and William Faulkner never made so much sense! Dr. Suarez’s commitment to excellence in both writing style and reading comprehension made me a better student and ultimately a better teacher.
After graduation, I earned a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania with a concentration in Irish literature and folklore. During my graduate studies, I began teaching high school English and now, as a stay-at-home mom, I work part time as an adjunct professor. I only hope that I bring to the classroom the joy, humor and magnetism that Dr. Wheatley did (and I am sure still does) and the integrity, generosity and intelligence of Dr. Suarez.
Kristina Stanton Cawley, B.A. 1994
Resplendent with phenomenally remembered references to history, literature, art and film, he engaged us with one another as we learned, laughed and celebrated life together. Class and Mass, teaching and preaching embodied his fundamental belief: that God is worshipped when human beings enjoy life in community. Not your ordinary class. Not common fare at the eucharistic table.
His worldview was not merely ecumenical; his was an empathically humanistic embrace, even — perhaps especially — when
Now in his 86th year, his influence continues in his teaching at Catholic University and Georgetown, and his preaching in District of Columbia churches — as it does in my heart, in my mind, in my soul.
Lois Ann Cipriano, B.A. 1965
“Iggie Smith” — as the students dubbed him — graced the campus as the indomitable dean of the School of Philosophy. A ruddy countenance and a full shock of fading red hair confirmed his Irish ancestry. His no-nonsense demeanor was apparent as he strode into class and surveyed the assembly. His classes were always well attended and it was never wise to arrive late.
On one occasion a nun, frequently tardy, entered the class after Father Smith had begun his lecture. Undismayed, the sister carefully traced her steps across the front of the lecture hall, heels noticeably clacking on the wooden floor. Father Smith silently watched this solitary procession pass before him and after the sister seated herself he loudly inquired, “Sister, how would you like your tea?” Adjusting her veil and without missing a syllable the nun responded, ‘With a little less lemon,” to the hilarious uproar of the class and the delight of Father Smith himself.
Father Smith was approachable and affable. He was not above controversy with a fellow professor, though. Moral theologian Father Francis Connell’s labeling of professional boxing as immoral prompted a disdainful nod of Iggie’s head toward Caldwell Hall and the acid remark, “Better watch out; I think a new mortal sin may be on the way.”
He was a renowned preacher. Long before Vatican II’s insistence on the necessity of forthright and imaginative biblical preaching, Father Smith founded the Preachers’ Institute at CU in the early 1940s; it trained a whole generation of preachers. Often his impressive figure in his flowing habit graced the pulpit of St. Matthew’s Cathedral, speaking to a packed congregation, his great voice resounding throughout the church.
Conversant with the conflicting philosophies of the day, he always insisted on the centrality of Thomism, which was a hallmark of the philosophy school. He was especially scornful of what he believed was the vacuity and hopelessness of Jean-Paul Sartre’s brand of existentialism, which was all the rage in some circles.
After 50-plus years, the memory of a splendid and unforgettable teacher, “Mr. CU,” lives on in my heart and always will.
Rev. William T. Cullen, M.A. 1956
Embodying the Meaning of Nursing
As a teacher of nursing, I often think back to the friendship she and I forged as I progressed through the master’s program. I can only hope that I begin to touch my students the way she touched my life and the lives of many others. She embodied for me the whole meaning of nursing — caring, giving, nurturing, showing intelligence, facilitating, and I could go on and on.
Sylvia Pulliam Lackey, M.S.N. 1981
Making It Big on Broadway
He was a celebrity in the nation's capital and he used that celebrity to forge relationships in the State Department, creating performing opportunities for his students around the world. As a freshman I was fortunate enough to tour Romania in Eugene O'Neill's Ah, Wilderness! and two years later to tour the United States and the Far East with National Players, the classical touring company Hartke created that gave a jump-start to thousands of graduating acting students over the years.
And he was funny! Aware of his larger-than-life stature in the community, he had a deep baritone and a self-deprecating wit (along with famously "ash-blond" hair) that belied any sense of entitlement beyond what he could do for the students he loved.
When I made my way up to New York City the fall after graduation, it was his spirit I carried with me when I stepped onto the stage of the Morosco Theater for my first Broadway audition. And when I made my mind-numbingly fortuitous Broadway debut on that very stage weeks later, it was the man with the ash-blond hair sitting eighth row center that I was happiest and proudest to please. The spirited sparkle in his eyes said it all. And it's that very spirit of possibility that I continue to carry in my life and in my work today.
Charley Lang, B.F.A. 1978
Learning to Understand the Media
Throughout the semester we studied the makeup of the political press corps, examining what made reporters tick and the impact of Watergate and the Vietnam War on a generation of journalists. We learned to study -- really study -- news stories to see what points of view were included and which ones were omitted. Through case studies, we were exposed to examples of how the media can effect profound change on public policy and public opinion.
Today, I work as a publicist dealing with reporters and producers at the nation's top print and broadcast organizations. Every day I am reminded of the lessons in Dr. Edwards' class. A free society cannot function without a free press. But the press has huge responsibilities as well. Americans now get more news faster than ever, but the principles of truth and fairness still apply.
Kevin P. McVicker, B.A. 1991, M.A. 1994
Until 1983, my third year at CUA, it may have appeared I was majoring in Wednesday nights at the Ratt. Though I passively enjoyed my major, English, my academic fires had not yet been ignited.
This was true until my first day in Dr. Curren Aquino's Shakespeare class. There she stood like royalty in the front of the crowded room, fully accessorized with her flowing colorful duster, gauzy dress pants and perfect posture, commanding the attention of the students. She started class strolling down the aisles, making eye contact, smiling and asking our names. Shortly thereafter, we were riveted by her enthusiasm for Shakespeare's magical world of characters, settings and poetic imagery. At the conclusion of that first class, she astonished us by reciting all our names by memory.
My final impression of her caring spirit was demonstrated after comprehensive exams senior year. Knowing that preparing for exams had frayed my nerves, Dr. Aquino visited the restaurant where I was waitressing and cheerfully notified me that I passed with a high score. I was caught off guard by her joy in my personal achievement.
These days, as I complete my 18 th year as an English teacher, I can't claim her uncanny ability to memorize a room full of names after a short introduction. But I will forever be inspired by her model of teaching with enthusiasm, compassion and a touch of enchantment.
Laura Graham Fetters, B.A. 1985
To say that much of where I am and what I have accomplished I owe to the Cosmos is not simply waxing metaphysical. It is a tribute to Spencer J. Cosmos, who was my teacher and mentor during my undergraduate studies in English in the early 1970s and the bridge to my first graduate degree at the University of Illinois.
Never one to take the easy way, I enrolled in several graduate courses as an undergraduate, one of which was Spencer's History of the English Language. The course and the students were far beyond me in knowledge and talent, but I was drawn to the insouciant enthusiasm of the professor, who made philology fun.
In my junior and senior years, I took other courses from Spencer, including a year of Anglo-Saxon, spending a semester on Beowulf in a meticulous line-by-line reading as Spencer enthusiastically glossed the text. He made us memorize "Caedmon's Hymn," from Bede's Ecclesiastical History of England , the beginning portions of which I can still recite after a fashion.
Instead of taking the yearlong coordinating seminar that was the capstone of the English degree, I proposed and Spencer agreed to mentor an independent study of Middle English lyric poetry. Through a succession of lengthy research papers I examined the development of Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-Norman and Middle English lyrics, and eventually produced a critical edition (with introduction, textual notes and commentary) of a single lyric poem. Several years later I realized that Spencer had helped me write the equivalent of a master's thesis. When I actually had to write a thesis and later a dissertation, I was well prepared.
When the time came for me to leave CUA, I was determined to be a professor like Spencer, so I enlisted his help in applying for graduate school. I was accepted to Cornell and to Penn, but his alma mater, the University of Illinois, showed me the money in a teaching assistantship and tuition remission.
Spencer Cosmos' enthusiasm and energy, his enjoyment of literature, language and teaching continue to reside in my heart, and, I hope, in my professional practice.
Thomas L. Long, B.A. (English) 1975, M.A. (theology) 1981
God Bless Her Much!
Dr. Mullaney showed a commitment to us by being available for consultation and guidance outside the classroom, encouraging students like me who were "green" to social work and urban problems. She wisely advised how to be involved without being consumed in the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations and the War on Poverty, both prominent movements in Washington and the nation.
She used innovative teaching methods such as recently developed computer approaches to social work research. Her advice was common-sense and practical. To reduce anxiety about field placement, she encouraged us to do a "dry run." A day or so before the start of our practicum we were to go to the location, walk around the area, locate where lunch could be purchased, time the travel distance and note which bus line was best. So helpful!
Dr. Mullaney's presence and concern enabled me to finish the course of studies, earn my M.S.W. and become a social worker. Without her encouragement, the work would have been much harder and lots less enjoyable.
Even today, I and others she has taught know we can call or write Dr. Mullaney for advice on a research paper, a community-service venture or a social work presentation, and get a thoughtful, helpful reply -- promptly. God bless her much!!
Sister RuthAnn Fox, R.S.M., M.S.W. 1970
Dr. Paul J. Claffy inspired and motivated me during my studies. As a foreign student, I was not familiar with the U.S. educational system, with an added difficulty of selecting courses to fit into the curriculum of the Master of Civil Engineering program. As advised by Dr. Claffy, I enrolled as a full-time student to earn the degree in two semesters, as there were severe restrictions on getting foreign exchange then from my home country, India. But for him, I could not have chosen the subjects suiting my background.
He had such a soft heart for me, knowing my limitations since the curriculum was new to me, my funds were limited and I had to return home to join my family in the shortest time; his concern was very clear in his help in selecting a suitable topic for my thesis. He selected a thesis subject so that I could gather all the field data from the campus itself, as the outside world was unfamiliar to me. This was the most rewarding experience I had in my association as a student with him.
I have always found in him the most pleasing manners and an outstanding personality. I remember him trying to spot me in my convocation outfit on graduation day in the open assembly held in front of McMahon Hall. When he spotted me, I noticed his jubilant face competing with my own.
I am very grateful to Catholic U and Dr. Claffy for promoting my higher studies in the U.S.A. The fact that I retired as chief engineer in my home state of Kerala speaks volumes as to how much I was rewarded by being a student at Catholic University some 42 years ago.
Mel P. Oommen, M.C.E. 1963
Formidable Teacher, Scholar, Critic
She taught the senior English Seminar and two other courses I took that year. She came to each class dressed impeccably and delivered similarly perfect lectures. She spoke with the slightest trace of an accent, which reflected her Viennese early childhood (of which she wrote in her most recent book, The Vienna Paradox: A Memoir .) She was ebullient, formidable in her scholarship, yet very approachable and generous with her knowledge.
I've saved the critique she wrote of my first paper: "I am enormously impressed and pleased by your essay. It strikes me as being not only the best paper we've had this year, but much better than Yeats papers of past years in seminar! (Don't let it go to your head, though!)" I didn't, but her words of encouragement and letters of recommendation assured my admittance to the graduate school where I continued my study of literature.
In the following years I attended lectures she gave and met her at several conventions of the Modern Language Association (which Perloff will be president of from 2006 to 2007). When she moved to California I followed her phenomenal career as professor and renowned literary critic. We kept in touch during the holidays and she sent me beautiful gifts when my two children were born.
Dr. Perloff is a professor emerita at the university my daughter Alison attends. I wish that she had taught for just a few more years so that Alison could have met the most remarkable teacher I had at Catholic University.
Ann McGarrity Buki, B.A. 1970
A Coach for a Lifetime of Learning
Her concern for students was one of the leading factors in my choosing her as my senior thesis adviser. The other factor was her vast knowledge of all things British, especially the suffragette movement at the turn of the century, as proven by her multiple books published on that subject. I ended up writing about the fringe elements of the British Suffragette movement.
As it turned out, the lessons I learned from that semester go much deeper than mere names and dates. Dr. Mayhall guided me in how to organize my thoughts and succinctly communicate them to others. This has carried over into my life here in Japan as an English teacher.
I've discovered that learning doesn't stop upon graduation. And many of the ways that I deal with learning opportunities can be traced back to those long days in the library and hours of discussion and feedback with a very special teacher, Dr. Mayhall.
David Powell Jr., B.A. 1999
Long before being prompted by this essay opportunity, I've reflected on the profound influence on me of Dr. Michael Gosman's seminars and tutoring during 1972-74, when I was his English lit transfer student. The drift of ideas, theories and visions that emanated from our in- and out-of-classroom dialogues about modern poetry, prosody, ancient philosophy, dance, film and music filled me with excitement, inspiration and diligence -- getting more out of me as a student that anyone ever has.
He introduced me to poets T.S. Eliot and John Donne, soprano Elly Ameling, ballerina Gelsey Kirkland, conductor Simon Rattle, St. Thomas Aquinas, country music and contemporary film, in no particular order and with an accompanying eclectic enthusiasm. Just as important, his patient, probing style, his finely honed but not elitist taste, and the principles of informed judgment he modeled have shaped my subsequent work as a teacher, mother, writer and community developer.
The root of "educate" is "to draw out," not just to pass on. One could not ask much more of an education than having this hunger for understanding and thirst for high standards drawn out by such a stellar teacher and scholar.
Patricia Crosby, B.A. 1974
I arrived in the United States from Iran in 1961 and began my education at Howard University. After receiving my M.A. there, I began the quest to be admitted to a Ph.D. program and was admitted to Catholic University's Department of Politics. Joan B. Urban became my major adviser and professor. To this day she has helped me achieve educational accomplishments I did not think I could achieve.
Her humanistic approach, brilliant teaching methods, profound knowledge of her subject and compassion for her students created an environment I shall never forget. Yes, I struggled to receive my Ph.D. ... but Dr. Urban always encouraged me to continue and never give up. I think she never really knew how much her influence helped me to achieve, not only careerwise but in life.
I became the academic dean of Strayer University in 1986 and remained in that position for 14 years. In my teaching I tried to achieve a humanistic approach to my students as well as to my colleagues. Dr. Urban, thank you with all of my heart. You are a treasure to The Catholic University of America.
Younes P. Benab, Ph.D. 1974
Dr. Gustav Hensel, professor of mathematics, is one of my all-time favorite teachers. He is one of only five teachers that I would like to imitate in my own classroom teaching. Dr. Hensel's classes were rigorous but thoroughly enjoyable.
He used a lot of humor when teaching us mathematical proofs in Abstract Algebra. He held high expectations for his students and always provided the support to complete his challenging assignments. He cared about his students. My thanks go out to him for an outstanding preparation for a career in teaching high school mathematics and physics.
Sister Mary Frances Grasinger, C.S.J., M.T.S. 1969
When I walked into my first education class as a member of a teaching order of brothers and realized I was the only male student, I felt strange to say the least. It was my first meeting with Dr. Christine Sweeney, a human whirlwind of activity and professionalism. Though small of stature, she was a giant of enthusiasm and pride in her work. Her spirit was catching and I learned so much about teaching. She was such a kind person and blessed me with her experience and love of learning. She taught me to be proud of the elementary education field and during the years I taught, her ways of lesson planning were put to good use. Thank you, Dr. Sweeney, for your life's lessons. I was honored to be in your presence.
Edward C. Hartmann, B.A. 1965
I was so delighted to see that three of the "favorite teachers" featured on your Spring 2005 cover were from the School of Library and Information Science that I wanted to thank you and the authors, and also to congratulate the library science school. The ratio of number of SLIS faculty versus percent selected must be exceptional.
My own years at SLIS began in 1950. I graduated in 1953 and later taught there -- well before the advent of Mary June Roggenbuck and Jean Preer, whom you featured. However, the spirit of the program emanated from the longtime director, Father James Kortendick, S.S., who was also a genial teacher and a master at selecting and encouraging faculty, students and alumni. At alumni events, where 50 or more people might be gathered, he could name every one and usually tell where they were working, etc. He introduced me to the idea of teaching at the graduate level, encouraged me to go on for a doctorate (which I earned at the University of Chicago) and remained a friend until his death. With leaders like him, how could the school fail to have highly competent, people-oriented faculty?
Peggy Sullivan, M.S.L.S. 1953
Dr. Judith Bateman in the School of Library and Information Science was "the people's professor." Three of her best attributes are compassion, commitment and common sense. The compassion showed itself in her kindness to students. Dr. Bateman taught two of her classes as primarily Web-based courses, which require a great deal of self-discipline (and honesty) of the students. When this discipline posed a problem for some, Dr. Bateman always gave extra help to the struggling and encouragement to the discouraged, and dealt fairly with all who put forth effort and met her even part-way. This is not to say there were no consequences for those who fail to make some effort, however. Dr. Bateman wouldn't let someone slide to the point where it is unfair to other students, or to the student him- or herself.
She was very committed to her teaching and her students. Even though her online classes met on campus only three times during the semester, she was always reachable via e-mail and phone, despite many personal challenges she faced. She was faithful about keeping her office hours also. Likewise, her commitment was evident in her discipline regarding her favorite hobby: flute playing. I also play and can attest that in a few short years she became extremely accomplished and is very passionate about her playing.
Dr. Bateman's respectful and down-to-earth attitude toward others -- students, staff, fellow faculty -- reflected the common sense with which she views all of life, and the way in which she prioritizes. She "fills her jar" with the important things -- husband, cats, "significant others" and her flute -- and lets other things fill in the jar where they may. In addition to the thrice-a-semester class meetings I mentioned, another part of the Web-based classes was the "socials" at Union Station; Dr. Bateman understood relationship-building very well.
Lastly and mostly, she is fun. I used to sit in Mullen Library or at home and laugh out loud at her e-mails. I remember when we were all studying for the dreaded comps and I verbalized my panic to her. She said I shouldn't worry, as I was not one to turn in "content-free" writing. That's typical of her sharp, witty observations on life and the turns of phrase she uses to express them.
In short, Dr. Bateman was a shining jewel in the SLIS crown at CUA.
Nancy Kane, M.S.L.S. 2001
A Poetic Remembrance at 98
I was then a registered nurse, 32 years old, had some college education, but not a degree. I am now 98, about thrice as old as I was then.
There were few women on the campus in those days. They were allowed there only if they were in nursing or sociology.
The university had begun as a school for men. It was chosen for me by my cousin, Monsignor H.G. Riordan, and by Most Rev. Francis J. Haas, who both looked at the power and impact of an education on a student's life. I had been baptized Catholic as a baby, but brought up by my Methodist mother. My attorney father differed with the local priest. My mother had said to my father, "You must make Sarah Jane stop swearing. If you don't take her to your church, I'll take her to mine." So it was about 20 years later that my cousin saw to it that I became a practicing Catholic and was enrolled at Catholic University.
Listening to my plea for a good teacher in religion, dear Sister Olivia, dean of nursing, challenged me as she assigned me to a class: "Only excellent students are assigned to Monsignor [Fulton J.] Sheen's classes. You'll have to keep up." I accepted gladly, became friendly with the Monsignor of the Red Mass, listened faithfully to his talks on Sunday radio, admired his books. He would always listen to his students, whom he could call by name. Our paths crossed many times outside of school and later in life.
I was very impressed when his book The World's First Love was published in 1952, especially with his thoughts on Mary and the Muslims. Our Blessed Mother had appeared at Fatima, Portugal, about 1917. That caused me to obtain and read a Quran, which influenced my thinking, especially in recent years. I believe Fulton J. Sheen is worthy of sainthood.
Another Catholic U teacher was Dom Thomas Verner Moore, "of the twinkling eyes and white Benedictine robes." In 1994 we visited the monastery Cartuja de Miraflores near Burgos, Spain, which he had entered in 1947. My son could be shown his grave, but I, a woman, could not go to the cemetery. Father Moore had taught me that "every human being is destined to be a friend of God."
Father Gilbert Hartke was officed in the building where nurses had classes and was influential for our knowledge about drama and music. He brought Broadway shows to the university before they premiered in New York.
As a very old women, I have written my Life Review, intending to finish in 2004. But here it is, Aug. 12, 2005. Enough of the past. Let's look at today.
Sarah Jane Hewett
I received my M.S. degree in physics from CUA in 1968 and 37 years later there are three professors who I still think of often, for they were inspiring, impressive and thoroughly enjoyable. I cannot single out one, for all three are indelibly imprinted in my memory.
It was the late Father Urban Schnaus who taught me my first courses in physics. He had an easygoing, entertaining manner that complemented his great knowledge. He made physics enjoyable and fun, and got me off to a good start.
Dr. Virgilio Acosta taught me several more-advanced courses in physics. He was so methodical and precise that it was a keen pleasure to watch him develop and derive physics equations on the blackboard. His presentation was beautiful to behold.
And, finally, I had the great honor to work on my thesis under the guidance of the late Dr. Clyde Cowan. He and Dr. Acosta were co-authors of the book Essentials of Modern Physics , which still occupies a place of great respect and inspiration in my library. As the co-discoverer of the neutrino, Dr. Cowan directed our team in cosmic ray research, employing his lead-lined spark chamber in the basement of Brady Hall off campus. We performed our contributory tasks so assiduously under his skilled and patient tutelage! His kindness and generosity to me affect me deeply to this day.
These three wonderful men played a major role in my life and career choices. I love them all and thank them for all they have done for me, still keeping them in my prayers. Catholic University was indeed very fortunate to have had these giants upon its campus. I realize more every day that I was very fortunate to have known and worked with such inspirational people. I trust I shall see them again in heaven where I can thank them once again.
The Catholic University professor who influenced my life was my uncle, Monsignor Edward B. Jordan, S.T.D. He was a professor for many years, the dean of the Catholic Sisters College and vice rector of the university at the time of his death in July 1951.
When I was finishing nurses' training in 1945, he suggested that I apply for a scholarship under the Bolton Act. Those scholarships were awarded with the premise that the recipients would get their nursing degree and enter the service during World War II. I never did enter the service because the war was over before I finished in 1948.
I taught in a diploma school of nursing for three years. After marrying and having seven children, I returned to nursing in 1969. I spent most of my career in nursing in-service education at Mercy Hospital, Scranton, Pa., where I still volunteer in the hospice unit.
If it were not for my uncle and the good education I got at Catholic University, my life would have been very different.
I also remember fondly the nursing professors I had -- namely, Sister Olivia Gowan, Miss Loretta Heidgerkin, Miss Dix, Miss Edna Treasure and Miss Bielmeyer.
Elizabeth Conroy Kilker, B.S.N.E. 1948
"The Mystic of the '50s" and a Hero of WW II
Father Hart was, to my mind, CUA's mystic of the 1950s. He taught a philosophy course on ontology that you had to fight to get in. He was the perfect stereotype of the Irish priest that knew what life was about. I can still see him sauntering down the hallways of McMahon Hall in his slightly rumpled clerical suit, turned-up shoes and white socks, heading to a classroom that was always filled. He began each semester by handing out 400-plus questions and an announcement that his final exam would consist of 25 of the questions, so if we knew the answers to all the questions on the list we did not have to come to class. Needless to say, that was like throwing popcorn to pigeons in the park and you had to fight the people who audited the class for a seat. The educational and entertainment value of the class were outstanding.
Like the course in metaphysics that I took from Monsignor Robert Paul Mohan, Father Hart's ontology course and his repeating of Descartes' " Cogito Ergo Sum " -- I am thinking and therefore I am -- would not really sink in for another 20 years but is very important to my way of life now.
The story went that Father Hart had been attached to Admiral Halsey's Command during WW II and if you wanted to get into Navy Officer Candidate School you should make an appointment for a personal interview with the priest-scholar.
He was the monitor for the Phi Kappa fraternity and an all-round people person who was truly loved and had a magnificent impact on the young minds that came in contact with him. No greater compliment can be paid to a teacher.
The second teacher I want to compliment was Dr. Tierney in the history department. I believe that he formally held the chair as a professor of church history but I met him when he was teaching a course on British constitutional history. I was a fifth-year senior and had space on my dance card to take some electives so I took his course because it was as far away from science and math as I could get. I will never forget the absolute love of history that he conveyed to me during that course and that I still carry to this date -- a strong statement for a guy like me who has been a computer techie for nearly 50 years.
Dr. Tierney was brought up in Ireland (Irish mother, English father). When World War II broke out he left the "Green Island" to go to England and join the RAF. He was one of England's heroes who flew Mosquito bombers. When we would question him about his experience, his standard comment was, "the only thing those damn airplanes could do well was burn," but a review of the history of those missions tells a much different story.
Dr. Tierney finished his education in England and became "very English" in appearance, which was a part of his charm when he taught. As a student listened, he felt like he was being told a tale by someone who had been there all the way from the Battle of Hastings through the end of WW I.
My education at CUA was one of the best and the really important lessons were those that some might say have a "fuzzy" direction. At a Phi Kappa reunion, a roomful of 40 people from all walks of life agreed that two of the most important types of classes they took were philosophy and English. One taught you to think and the other allowed you to communicate with your fellow human beings.
Jack Derham, LL.B. 1955
Revised: November 2005
contents copyright © 2005.