University professors have three areas of responsibility: teaching, research and service. The amount of time given to these three large tasks varies with institution, ability and preference. At our institution, like many others, the proportions suggested are 40 percent each for teaching and research and 20 percent for service. For the last 10 years (nine years plus one sabbatical), I have been Chair of the largest department at my university, and the service part of my time has been much more like 75-85 percent, with teaching and research taking up 15-25 percent. After three terms, I have now stepped down as Chair and will have more time for the things that attract most faculty: teaching and research. (No one becomes a professor to be an administrator!)
I have enjoyed the challenges and rewards of overseeing the psychology program at Laurier and have learned a lot about how universities function. But I will be glad to turn back to research, and to teaching and learning with students the skills and knowledge that will help them in the future. In my time as Chair, my students (I continued to supervise individuals) carried out considerable research, and one of my first tasks will be to bring this research to the larger scientific community by preparing and submitting articles for publication in peer-reviewed journals. Since this research was funded by government grants, there is an obligation to you, the taxpayers, to add our findings to the body of scientific knowledge, something that does not happen if the experiments are just buried in student theses.
It is also my hope, as I disseminate this research, to turn to something I may now have the time and experience to address more systematically: the relationship between what I have learned about God’s creation through science and our faith built on God’s Word and among God’s people. These monthly columns will continue to provide a snapshot of one small issue raised in the dialogue between faith and science and are a pleasure to write. However, I feel led to expand my thinking and writing to pull together some of these insights into larger analyses and more substantial blocks of writing. In this way, I hope to more actively engage with those who have already been working in this vineyard. Where this will lead is not clear, but with our Lord’s grace I pray it may be blessed.
My career is not the only one that is changing in its focus. For all the time I have been writing in Christian Courier, I have had a faithful, behind-the-scenes editor in Cara DeHaan. As someone who suffers from a fair degree of dyslexia, I find writing presents interesting challenges and wrinkles. Cara has helped me immensely by showing me how to structure these columns so that the thoughts and ideas come across clearly. My writing would not have been possible all these years without her help.
This year Cara becomes a candidate for the office of minister of the Word (and Sacraments) and received and accepted a call from Faith Christian Reformed Church in Burlington. After passing the classical examination, she will be ordained as a pastor in our denomination. It has been a blessing and joy to watch Cara complete the training for this responsibility, and I pray that she and the congregation she serves may reflect God’s love for all of his creation. However, with this change in her career, I have lost my editor. Fortunately, the church is a large community, and a new editor, Andrew White, has agreed to help me with these columns. I am thankful that we are part of the larger body of Christ and can learn and support each other as we all seek to serve our Lord.
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