Essays & Papers

Over the years, I’ve written a variety of essays and unpublished papers on issues relating to community-based development, rural extension and higher education.  This section will include papers that are still “in process” rather than fully formed.

What Professors Hope Incoming Freshmen Know/Understand

Several years ago, I asked a group of Fresno Pacific University professors what they wished all incoming freshmen knew (or understood) when they arrived on campus for their first day of class. This is what those professors said:

  1. Education is a process, not a commodity – Your professors will challenge you with cutting-edge knowledge, forcing you to think in new ways. They will engage you in conversations that will help you to examine your most basic assumptions, but they’ll also be there with you through this process. Nobody will give you an education; you have to claim it for yourselves!
  2. You are responsible for your own learning – The dirty secret in higher education is that it’s relatively easy to find a college where you can slide through and do the minimum. However, if you invest little/nothing in your education, that’s exactly what you will get from this experience—almost nothing! On the other hand, if you open yourself up to learning—and do the expected work—your life will be transformed.
  3. Develop the life of the mind – Your professors will teach you to think for yourselves; in the process, you will also learn how to learn. They not only want you to read the assigned materials and complete the assignments, but also to debate and challenge them. In that process, you will learn how to think at a much deeper level. Their goal is to help you develop your own minds, not to transfer content (from them to you) or to tell you what to think or believe.
  4. Get to know your professors – You are the reason why they chose to become professors; you are the best part of their jobs! It’s not primarily the content of their disciplines but rather their engagement with you that makes teaching meaningful and rewarding. If the professors at your university don’t make it obvious that they feel this way about you, you’re at the wrong place!
  5. Seek out new experiences – Study abroad for a semester, enroll in a program that will provide you with an internship on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, go on a ministry trip, volunteer in a resource-limited school, and befriend an international student. Experience new and different cultures. Trying things you’ve never attempted before will forever enrich your lives.
  6. Organize your time well– Nobody will ask (or care) if you’re ready for class or if your papers are done. Nor will anyone tell you that it’s time for bed. College is not summer camp; it’s like a job where you have to show up every day and do your work. Everybody is busy; some people are simply better organized so get their work done on time. Lack of organization is the college student’s greatest stressor so make lists, establish a calendar, read your texts and start your written assignments early.


Christian Colleges and Higher Education Today

This essay summarizes some personal reflections  during my sabbatical which came after ten years as President of Fresno Pacific University.  I shared these observations and concerns with the university trustees in a report on my sabbatical.

The Role of Adult Education in Building Social Capital and Strengthening  Civil Society 

This paper was prepared as part of a symposium in Taiwan in 2002 that addressed a group of educators who were interested in social change.  The paper itself was based on research that my graduate students at Cornell University and I were doing in the 1990s.