Newman saying goodbye to 11 of its professors

By Victor Dixon

In the fall, Newman learned that 11 professors would be laid off as part of institution-wide financial cuts, which also included slashing eight undergraduate programs.

Now, the end of the year has arrived, and it’s time for Newman to say goodbye to those professors: Wendy Sahatijan, associate professor of marketing and management; Joe McElroy associate professor of finance and business law; Cheryl Golden, professor of history; John McCormick professor of theology; Christopher Fox, professor of philosophy; Jamey Findling, associate professor of philosophy; Janet Jump, assistant professor of education; Amelia Hopper, associate professor of nursing; Lindsey Stillwell, assistant professor of social work; John Vogt, associate professor in the division of science and mathematics; and Bryan Dietrich, professor of English.

Some of them shared their thoughts about their final days at Newman.

Stillwell is an assistant professor of social work who first came to Newman as an adjunct in 2019 and was fully hired in the fall of 2020 to help start the social work bachelors’ degree program.

“It was just great to be at a Catholic institution where I could live my faith and my values while also teaching,” she said.

Stillwell has served on many committees and said she has tried to involve herself in the community and push for change that would help students. She also earned her doctorate during her time at Newman and worked to better support students and increase the number of new students who stay at Newman. She teaches the Deconstructing Privilege course, which is a capstone in the Human Story category of the Newman Studies Program – the only course on campus that addresses diversity.

Stillwell said she is looking for other teaching positions at universities across the country. But she said she may also find herself in a social work position.

“I know that this process has been really hard for my colleagues, and it has been hard for the students, and we’ve had to deal with the sense of loss,” she said. “I know that it hurts, but I know that there’s better things coming. I have to believe that. I hope that as Newman closes out the semester and shifts into whatever is next that you do it with a sense of hope and positivity.”

Golden started at Newman as a professor of history in 1998 after finishing her Ph.D. in ancient history. She has since sponsored several student clubs and has been the director of international studies.

She has also spent time working with the ASC Sisters on campus and in other countries and has bonded with several of them over their love for history.

Golden said she particularly enjoys learning and working with her fellow professors in the arts and sciences.

“I just couldn’t ask for better colleagues,” she said. “It’s a rare thing to have this kind of warmth and support for each other, and I really felt that.”

She said she would like to continue teaching while also finding time to do more writing and research.

Fox has been teaching at Newman since the fall of 2004, when he joined Findling in teaching philosophy. “What I’ve done here is to serve Newman students by being who I am,” he said. “I’m not a Catholic person from Kansas. I’m a Seattle rocker who earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of Memphis, someone who has deep area knowledge and an expansive worldview, is interested in ideas, and who feels called to help students become who they are. My job here always has been to create a space where all students—especially the ones who are “different” in whatever way—can be themselves, and part of how I’ve tried to do this is by trying to be honest about being who I am, my weaknesses  and my struggles. As someone who above all teaches critical thinking, I hope that my students have been emboldened to challenge those in authority who don’t want to be challenged or questioned. I know that I have brought some friction and some heat, and I know that some of the people who have come through here don’t care for me and are probably notching their belts at my departure. Well, I’m happy that they’re happy; I wouldn’t want me as an adversary either. But I will say that nearly everything I’ve done at Newman has been out of my primary loyalty, which is to the students I have been blessed to know. They are what matters, and they will be the legacy of my time here.”

He said he is unsure of where life will take him beyond Newman.

Photo: Courtesy Photo, Unsplash