Above photo of the Haskell Twins, college kids off to ski at Jackson, New Hampshire, Circa 1953.
Favorite College Courses
I recently read a speech by the president of Harvard, Dr. Drew Faust, given at West Point on the subject of a liberal arts education:
“Such inquiry teaches us how to scrutinize the thing at hand, even in the thick dust of danger or drama or disorienting strangeness,” Faust said. “It imparts skills that slow us down — the habit of deliberation, the critical eye, skills that give us capacity to interpret and judge human problems; the concentration that yields meaning in a world that is noisy with information, confusion, and change.”
I thought of my four years at the liberal arts college, Bowdoin—60 years ago—and what I got out of a liberal arts education. My thoughts went to my four favorite courses at Bowdoin and I realized that the variety of these courses truly illustrates the value of such an education. Those four courses and the reasons I enjoyed them were:
ENGLISH course on the modern novel by a visiting professor named Louis Coxe. My roommate, Cal Kendall, was an English major and he encouraged me to take some English courses. I was a little afraid of these courses as some of the smartest guys at Bowdoin seemed to be English majors. I finally took this one English course and loved it. The course was taught at both 8 AM and 1 PM and I tried to attend both as each one gave a different view of the books we were reading. This course taught me the joy of reading. I received a C+ in this course and knew that was just what I deserved as I was competing with lots of very bright students, and fast readers.
ECONOMICS course by Harvard Ph.D. Professor James Storer. I majored in Economics and enjoyed most of my major courses with this one being the best. The book we studied was “The Worldly Philosophers” by Heilbroner. We studied and discussed each man and Prof. Storer made their economic thought so pertinent. I received a B+ in this course and appreciated it.
RELIGION course by Visiting Professor, Ronald Bridges. This was a course on religions of the world taught by a fascinating professor who’d graduated from Bowdoin in 1930. He was a leader in various religious organizations including the World Council of Churches. Since Prof. Bridges had infantile paralysis as a boy, his classes were mostly held in his home. My roommate, Cal Kendall and I were the best students in this course, receiving As in this course. The course instilled an interest in religion that continues today. I have been a Baptist, Episcopalian, and now am a Unitarian. My Grandfather, Hussey was a Unitarian Minister in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
MATH I by Professor Reinhold Korgan. I took this course in the fall semester of my freshman year. I was very conscientious, doing my homework and attending extra-help seminars and loved doing well in this course. Math became my minor at Bowdoin and I received one of my only As in this math course. I did decide later that I was not destined to become a math scholar.
I went on to become a businessman and my economics courses were particularly valuable to me in my career. In hindsight, however, I wish I’d taken a wider variety of courses at Bowdoin. I was fortunate to marry a woman who has wide interests in reading and the arts. That has inspired me and following my business career, Pat and I founded a live theatre on Hilton Head and ran this theatre for 22 years, producing 112 productions. Our final show at South Carolina Repertory Company, “The Outgoing Tide” was produced in conjunction with The Good Theatre in Portland, Maine.
The emphasis these days on college kids seems to be on making money. Of course we thought about that in my Bowdoin days but it doesn’t seem we were so focused on it back then. It’s interesting that each of our adult-children studied liberal arts at their colleges—Occidental, Va. Intermont, U.Cal, Irvine, and Clemson. Our grandchildren seem to be more focused on their studies in specific courses.