Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Defibrillating the Heart of Peace College

Since my last blog entry regarding the death of Peace College, I’ve heard from many of you who share my despondency over the fact that our daughters will never get to experience the nurturing and growth that we were lucky enough to experience during our time at Peace.  Like you, I have leafed through my yearbooks and shared stories with my Peace Sisters.  At first, the reminiscence made me cry and I hate to cry.  Now, I just get all angry and defiant...ahh, that’s more like it.

I certainly don’t like to repeat myself, but the end of Peace takes away so many amazing opportunities for young women that I don’t intend to stop squawking about it until Townley hammers the last nail in the coffin she crafted.

I’m sure that other exclusively female colleges have perfectly fine professors, but so many of my Peace professors went out of their way to help me grow.  I can promise you that no professor in the enormous lecture halls of the big universities would have bothered to learn my name let alone take an interest in me.  To be perfectly frank, I don’t think that I ever made it past the teaching assistants at Carolina—they guarded the profs like pit bulls. 

One Peace professor in particular reached out to me before I ever became a student at Peace. 

I knew early on that Peace was the place for me.  The first time I stepped onto the campus as a visiting junior in high school...well, there’s no other term for it:  Instant serenity.  I knew right then and there that I was a Peace Girl.  The certain knowledge of where I belonged kept me calm as my fellow high school classmates flipped and flopped and panicked over where they were going to spend the next four years after graduation. 

During the fall of my senior year in high school, I got an unsolicited call from a very pleasant lady named Dr. Valerie Hall in the History Department of Peace College.  In a lilting Scottish accent, she told me that both she and Peace would love to have me as a student and she asked if I had any questions or concerns.  Dr. Hall was very complimentary of the perfect language/reading score from my SAT’s and that’s when I began to get a little worried. 

I did have a perfect language score, but I had a seriously imperfect math score.  When I hesitatingly mentioned my trouble with numbers, Dr. Hall brushed it off with, “Oh, there’s nothing to that.  You’ll just take bare minimum required and then you can move on and leave it behind.”

It was at that point when Dr. Valerie Hall sprouted wings and a halo.

Dr. Hall was my advocate and my friend at Peace.  I spent hours in her office discussing my passion for history and writing and sobbing over math.  She often had me stop by her office just to check on me and chat about nothing in particular.  She added a couple of debates to her world history class for the purpose of getting me over my fear of speaking so that I could feel comfortable about my decision to become an attorney. 

After one particularly um...lively guest lecture by a Republican political figure, a very fired up Dr. Hall called me to her office and said, “Peace needs a Young Democrats chapter.  I’m the faculty sponsor and you’re the President.” 

How could I say no?

To think that the amazing female voices and influences that made such a difference in my life will now be denied to my daughters—well, it’s infuriating. 

·         To Dr. Bauso, who put the fear of God in me about the use of passive voice.  You may not think that I got the point while reading my writing, but I promise you that I feel loads of guilt every single time I do it.

·         To Dr. Bonner, who performed the impossible by making biology understandable and interesting.  Incredible.

·         To Dr Vick, whose use of adorable monkeys and amazing stories actually had me leaning away from law school toward anthropology for one brief shining moment.  I do have to say that the rascally glee she derived from showing the child birth video right before lunch wasn’t appreciated.

·         To Dean Edwards, who scared the bejeezus out of me and who was the master of the uncomfortable pause.  She would simply stare at you until you were so nervous and fidgety from the silence that you found yourself saying all sorts of incriminating stuff simply to fill the conversational void.  It is a technique that I employ in depositions to this very day.

·         To Dr. De Luca, who also scared the bejeezus out of me, but who had me speaking fluent French by the end of “le boot camp” a/k/a honors French.

·         To Dr. Buckner, who presided over an incredibly fun creative writing class and who gave me a bit more backbone when it came to expressing myself through writing.  She might be kicking herself now, but I still appreciate it.

I know that a great many very distinguished educators were laid off during the Administration’s effort to trim costs.  It’s Peace’s loss and another institution’s amazing gain. 

Don’t get me wrong:  I’m not casting judgment from my ivory tower.  I know very well that times are hard.  People aren’t exactly rolling in cash and a private college education is astronomically expensive (my mother loves to remind me that two years at Peace cost more than four years at Carolina).  I know that some students have been forced to drop out with only a semester or so left before graduation.  Peace can’t afford to be what it used to be—I get that, but that doesn’t mean that the plug should be pulled on the whole thing. 

I can promise you this:  If the Administration had been honest with the Alumni and told us that they were facing the earth shattering, catastrophic, last-resort action of turning into William Peace University, we would have found a way.  We would honor the wonderful women who taught us and helped us grow so that more women could have the fantastic opportunities that we had.  Instead, we were lied to. 

Despite the deeply unappreciated deception, I’m still willing to try.  As long as Peace College stays Peace College, I am there for her.  I know that other Peace Girls share my sentiment and I’m happy to join you in making our point.  Peace Girls never shy away from a fight.

1 comment:

  1. As I was reading what you wrote about Dr Hall, I cried a little. If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have stayed at Peace. She made it feel like home to me. No matter how hard she pushed to get out of my comfort zones to learn and be a more well rounded and confident woman, I knew that she would always be there for me. I can't tell you how many times I just walked into her office because I wanted to feel safe. Peace will never be the same without her.