Reflections of a Hutchins Student

By Katherine Bolce, NewsCenter student contributor and graduating senior

katie.jpgAs I sat down to write about Tony Mountain and Barbara Lesch McCaffry's retirement party last Wednesday evening, I found my article was starting to take on more of the appurtenances of a heart-felt eulogy as I described the large attendance and general atmosphere. Allow me now to reprimand the tone of finality of this article.

Barbara and Tony are retiring after many years of guiding Sonoma State scholars through the interdisciplinary Hutchins Liberal Studies School of Education. I am certain they will look forward to spending several more doing as they desire.

I chose the word "guiding" in reference to these instructors' teaching style as a deliberate way to deviate the role of a seminar leader from that of a more traditional instructor. Though I have not had Barbara as a professor, I consider myself fortunate to have had Tony during my first year.

On the morning of my first college class, a fellow student asked our professor, Dr. Anthony Mountain, what was the best seminar he ever had.

"Years ago," Tony began, the light skipping off his glasses giving him what I thought was a particularly scholarly aura, "one of my strongest seminars turned to me, and told me, 'You don't have to be here, you know?' And they were exactly right." Strong seminars do not require a teacher to hold class, take attendance, or to issue grades.

It took me the next few years of my undergraduate degree to understand exactly what the student meant. Once I understood the impact of those words, I began to see what is expected of students, of informed citizens, and self-aware leaders that enter the workforce upon graduation.

I had hoped to speak with the man who had such an impact on my educational experience during his and Dr. Lesch McCaffry's retirement party last Wednesday outside of the University Art Gallery, however it wasn't until after my night class later that evening that our paths crossed.

When Tony caught up to me, I found myself asking him the same question I've heard repeatedly in the weeks leading up to graduation: "What are you planning to do after leaving Hutchins?"

And as his answer was about as indefinite as mine, I realized something comforting about planning and beginnings as well as endings.

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