I had the wonderful privilege to listen to both of the talks that Father Timothy Radcliffe, O.P. gave at the College this month. In addition to being an incredibly warm and welcoming person, he is a tremendous speaker, with the innate talent to captivate his audience.
Father Radcliffe has the unique and enviable ability to weave hilarious anecdotes throughout a serious discussion on God and religion in modern culture and classrooms. This manner of speaking draws the audience in, and he certainly had the rapt attention of every person in the room.
In addition to his astonishing speaking skills, the content of those speeches is far more moving than the way in which the information is being delivered. Father Radcliffe’s talk titled “Teaching as an Act of Friendship”, struck a chord with me. This talk focused on how important it is for professors to form bonds with their students and teach them as equals, and create an atmosphere where the student does not feel as if they are lesser than the professor, but a friend on a journey with a skilled guide. For me, a very recent graduate of the College, this proclamation resembled the experience I had at Albertus with my professors. The atmosphere and learning conditions were such that I was never afraid to ask questions, challenge or debate on the material we we’re engaging.
After Father Radcliffe’s talk, a panel of faculty, including Dr. Deborah Frattini, director of the academic development center and associate professor, Dr. Patty Compagnone-Post, associate professor, Dr. Jeremiah Coffey, chair of the department of philosophy and religion, and Dr. Robert Bourgeois, assistant professor and director of the global studies program, had a chance to respond to the talk. These responses were remarkable, for they each addressed the challenges of teaching religion or teaching alongside religion, currently, but they also discussed how, as professors they try to make lasting connections with their students and engage them not only with the material they are learning, but how and where that material fits into the big picture of the students’ lives. Dr. Frattini gave an inspiring and moving response of the challenges of teaching modern students but also spoke of the great rewards of such work, a sentiment that was wholeheartedly in line with the lecture of Father Radcliffe.
After two days of listening to Father Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., and particularly after hearing his lecture on teaching, the faculty panel’s response and Father Radcliffe’s discussion afterwards, I realized how lucky I am to have attended Albertus Magnus College and received this amazing liberal arts and Dominican education. This is a place where students and professors alike can work and learn together as the guide and the guided, not the all-knowing and know-nothing that is often found in so many other universities.
I would like to thank Father Timothy Radcliffe for coming to speak at the College, Sr. Anne Kilbride, O.P. and President Julia M. McNamara for organizing this Aquinas Lecture Series, through the generosity of the Marie Louise Bianchi ’31 Fund. Also I would like to thank Albertus Magnus College for always ‘seeking truth in all its dimensions’ and providing its students with faculty that truly does see teaching as an act of friendship.
Liz McGarry ’14, hails from North Haven, CT and graduated this spring with a bachelor’s in Marketing. In the Fall Liz will be attending Richmond, The American International University in London to pursue a master of arts in Advertising and Public Relations.