Pure scholarship one of greatest pleasures of teaching life

May 12th, 2009

One of the greatest pleasures during my April visit was interacting with faculty in the religious studies department. I found colleagues who share a passion for using ancient texts as windows on long-gone societies.

It is customary for incoming presidents to present their academic work in support of an application for tenure. However my presentation, “The Problem of Chronology in Ancient Hindu Legal and Ritual Texts,” paled in comparison to the discussion after, fueled by the keen interests of faculty members of the religious studies department.

I very much enjoyed meeting faculty members Mark Unno, Dan Falk, Judith Baskin, Deb Green, and Rick Colby. I cherish every chance I have to discuss the latest research in the field. In the time when I was a legitimate and productive scholar (before I went to the “dark side” of administrative tasks), raising questions through an accurate understanding of ancient texts, trying to clarify their nature and dates was my primary work. My ultimate goal was a clearer understanding of Indian social and legal history. Although each of us has a different academic specialty, it was truly gratifying to spend time with the committed teachers and scholars whose interests are so similar to my own.

Probably the highest exchange one can have on a university campus is one of ideas. That is why most all of us got into this profession: for the intellectually stimulating discussion with colleagues and students. This is what teaching at a university is all about. Jan and I look forward to more conversations with faculty members from all over campus.

I know that many of you continue to watch closely as the budget situation unfolds in Salem. The particular challenges facing the University of Oregon will ultimately force us to find a new way to fund public higher education. It is a subject we will discuss in great detail when I return to campus later this month. That visit will be my final one before Jan and I make the move to Eugene in June.

Overcoming funding shortfalls is a daunting task, but I am confident that the UO community will turn it into an opportunity. With your insight and commitment, the University of Oregon can become a national and world leader in transforming how public institutions are funded. I look forward to facing that challenge – and many others – with you.

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