Mentors, remembering Bob Hodge, and the Beloit Plan
Specialness of Beloit
Reading through the ever-lively Beloit College Magazine, I was honored to be grouped with the likes of Roxie Alexander, Devon Wilson’90, and Hank Woodard as one of those who made Beloit special. Speaking for myself, whatever contribution I made happened because when I arrived in 1973, Beloit was already special. Among its singular qualities were these: an eagerness to talk across and beyond specialized fields; an inclination to seek knowledge everywhere, especially across generations and in practical situations; and the joy of picking up insights from colleagues, students, staff, and alums alike when one least expects it. When I was at Beloit, I learned about ethics from Professor John Wyatt, the power of metaphor from Rosemary Kegl’81, and the enduring hard lessons of life from housekeeper Sue Pinson and cashier Jo Callahan. And those are just a few examples. If I helped make Beloit special, it was because Beloit made me special. The day I showed up for work there was among the luckiest of my life. May its specialness never cease.
Tom McBride [Professor Emeritus of English]
One’s time in college is extended adolescence — we are learning to be adults, learning to be a part of a community and the world, learning to manage our time, our expectations, our emotional health. It’s a good time, but it can often be difficult as one goes through it.
In April of 1986, my friend, Andrew C. Boggs’87, son of professor emeritus [of art] Franklin Boggs, passed away from brain cancer. A few weeks before his passing we had an ersatz graduation for him in his home, with Professors Ian Nie, Renato Premezzi, and others from the music department along with President Hull and a few others I cannot place right now. We held a memorial in Eaton Chapel shortly after his passing April 13.
A few weeks later, I was studying for finals in the second floor Pearsons lounge when then-registrar Ruth Colman Peterson’38 came to me and asked simply, “Do you need any incompletes?” It was an incredibly kind and perceptive gesture, understanding that I was trying to study for finals while grieving for a friend.
Ruth helped define Beloit and its dedication and understanding of students’ academic and social health, and that both are needed for student achievement. She understood that there was more to college attendance than academics, and that the dynamics of professors and students often were less about the capabilities than about how good the match was between them. Somehow Ruth took all that into account in weighing her duties as registrar, and it made Beloit all the more loving and supportive.
David D. Berkowitz’86/87
I came across a 2019 Beloit magazine in which there was a request for stories about mentors. I remember thinking the first time I read it that I had many mentors in different ways and would be hard pressed to name one over the others. Today, when I looked at the magazine again, I thought about my granddaughter who is looking at colleges, and I wish for her not one mentor but many, just as I had at Beloit.
The magic of many mentors is that they each offered different insights and challenged me in different ways: Don Summers, Allan Patriquin, Denny Moore, Bill Munn, Kirk Denmark, my art teacher, my piano teacher … and certainly our Dean of Women, Dorothy Gilbertsen.
Part of the magic of Beloit was the community of learning, the spirit of mentorship that the faculty created and modeled, and the opportunities for students to engage — the Learning Environment Counselors in the dorms for the Underclass Common Course (I was a UC-LEC), the Volunteer Tutoring Center, and so many other places.
I have taught in four different universities during my career. I have always tried to measure up to the standard set by Beloit faculty and create the kind of challenging, thoughtful dialogue of learning and supportive sense of community they provided for me. Students have written me notes about appreciating my mentorship; they were the beneficiaries of the model that was set for me by the Beloit faculty. I’m glad to know that spirit is still alive.
Claire Harper Knox’72
Remembering Professor Bob Hodge
I want to share a memory of Professor Hodge. In 1972, I took a 20th century American history class with Professor Hodge. He was the youngest professor in the history department and had small children I remember seeing about campus. I had to write a term paper for the class and chose Joseph McCarthy and the red scare of the ’50s. I received a “B” from Dr. Hodge and an admonition to strive for more than “gentleman Bs.” Fast forward to 2006. Bryan Gordon’07 takes the same class and unbeknownst to either of us also choses Joseph McCarthy as his thesis topic. He receives a “B” and the comment “Like father, like son.” I do not know how Dr. Hodge knew Bryan was my son, nor how he still remembered me all the years and thousands of students later, but I was impressed by his incredible memory and his dedication to his craft. As was the case with professors Robert Irrmann and Lester McAllister, Professor Hodge made an indelible impression on me, on how I analyze the world and myself. I remember him with great fondness. He will be missed.
Reflecting on the Beloit Plan
I agree 100 percent, let me say that again — 100 percent — with the letter in Beloit’s winter 2022 magazine written by Steven Maier’69 [about the Beloit Plan’s extraordinary opportunities]. I can go into great detail about all the advantages that the Beloit Plan afforded me. I wish it was still ongoing when my son attended Beloit.
Michelle Childers Parten’73
Tell Us What You Think
Email us about anything you’ve read in this edition. (Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.) We reserve the right to edit letters for length and clarity.