A recent CMC Instagram post described the recruitment of the original faculty, and that got my brain going. I took classes from three of them – Professors Dunbar, Gibbs and Phelps. Each of them contributed very positively in their own way to later life experience.
I took Labor Economics from Prof. Phelps, and I did my senior thesis for him. He wrote the textbook for the Labor Economics class, which impressed me no end. He did not assign a term paper for the class, which was a relief. Instead, he assigned weekly short papers that had to answer a specific question that typically was very complicated. The hitch was that the answer had to be typewritten on no more than a single page, with no line spacing or margin restrictions. The answer could be half spaced and to the edges of the paper. I believe his message was, “If you can’t say it in a page, it is not worth saying.” Later in life I did a lot of writing, and that lesson always stuck with me: try to be as brief as possible.
The senior thesis actually came at a tough time, because my dad died early in that semester. I held it together enough to do all the research in the fall, but I did not have a single page written by Christmas break, and it was due right after we got back. So Christmas break was a bit intense – I was writing as fast as I could, and my mom, bless her heart, was my typist. At that point, my goal was simply to meet the minimum page requirement and be done with it. Well, we did it, and no one was more surprised than I was when it came back with a nice fat A, with the handwritten comment “Very Thorough Job”. The thesis somehow survived all these years through about 20 moves, marriage, divorce and the like. A couple of years ago, my kids found it and gave it to me, and I finally had some intellectual respect from them!
Prof. Dunbar’s American Literature class stuck with me all these years. After “doing” life, with career and family, and precious little time for recreational reading, I have circled back to a lot of those authors to do a deeper dive. In retirement, I have immensely enjoyed reading many works of Steinbeck, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald, well beyond the one or two in a summary course. It is nice to read those authors just for the sake of reading, without worrying about a test or doing a paper.
I remember Prof. Gibbs for his no nonsense, practical approach to solving problems. Just “telling it like it is” in more current language. That lesson served me well throughout my accounting and legal career.
I mentioned the death of my dad senior year, and CMC faculty and leadership was very supportive. I received personal condolence letters from the Dean of Students, the Dean of the Faculty, the Registrar, and the Director of the dorms and Collins Hall. A couple of faculty members made sure I had “home cooked” meals on a regular basis, with leftovers. The support I received simply would not have happened at a larger institution.
I have always been grateful for the CMC education.