LASTING LESSONS — Spring 2004
   

 

Susan Rava, Retired Senior Lecturer in French

 

 

 

Jeffrey McDowell:

"Susan was always legitimately worried about me. Every quarter we would review the required courses for my double major in French and business: 'Oh Jeff,' she would say, 'this is way too much! You can't do this.'

"'Well,' I would reply, 'to graduate, I have to.'

"Pragmatism may not always be encouraged in academia; however, I was a pragmatist, thinking: 'I really will need to complete both degrees, get a job, and pay off my loans!'

"Susan encouraged me to do what I needed to do to get where I wanted to be. Another adviser might have pushed me toward the more esoteric, but when I said, for example, 'I don't have time to study conversational French,' Susan understood. But she also guided me.

 "In the first semester of my freshman year, I made a mistake. I chose to begin my college language career with a junior-level French course. It was a dreadful experience, very intimidating and negative. Susan suggested a step back into sophomore-level French. She never suggested that this was a failure, just a 'Why not try this instead?' approach.

"She created a positive experience for me, and from that perspective I was able to move forward. Were it not for her, I probably would not have completed a double major.

"Susan supported me in my goals, made the path clear, and ensured that all the prerequisites were met. She was everything an adviser should be."

Jeffrey McDowell, A.B. '89, B.S.B.A. '89, is an entrepreneur and a start-up business consultant.

 

 

 

 


 

Edward G. Weltin (1911-2002), Professor Emeritus of History

Cynthia DeHaven Pitcock:

"Dr. Weltin set me on my path toward an academic career a half-century ago. I was one of many students in history who received his faithful guidance, and I have always felt that I am required as a professor to pass on to students his concern and friendship. Dr. Weltin was a world-class scholar in ancient history; his teaching style was brilliant and humorous. He took his work very seriously, but not himself. His office in Busch Hall was a popular place for students—you couldn't walk past his door without seeing a group in there. He never talked down to us. I believe he had genuine respect for his students.

"While my first book was being published, I knew Dr. Weltin was terminally ill. I asked my publisher if he could put together the galleys—uncorrected as yet—inside the cover. With mock-up in hand, my husband and I drove to St. Louis to give it to Dr. Weltin. In a week or so, he called me and said: 'I've finished your book, Cynthia. It will be the last book I'll be able to read. How perfect that it should be yours.'

"In the early '90s, a group of his grateful students created the annual Edward G. Weltin Lectureship in Religious Studies. Each year, we come together from all parts of the country. Most of us are academics in history, and we have become close friends again through our admiration for Dr. Weltin. We have a million stories to tell about him. For all his scholarship, for all his gifts as a teacher, his deepest, most eloquent lesson was his personal integrity. Up to his last moment, he was our teacher and friend."

Cynthia DeHaven Pitcock, A.B. '55, is associate professor of the history of medicine at the University of Arkansas School of Medicine.

 


 

Leslie Chabay (1907-1989), Professor Emeritus of Music

Carl Moman:

"Marian Chabay called me the morning her husband, Leslie, passed away. As I drove that late afternoon from Plainview, Texas, to First Baptist Church of Ralls, Texas, where I was interim minister of music, I listened to my favorite recordings of Schubert's Die Schöne Müllerin and Winterreise sung by Professor Chabay. Memories and tears washed over me as I recalled so many details of our relationship.

"During my graduate school audition, he graciously listened to me and told me that he would respond in a few days. His letter came handwritten, because he did not want anyone, including secretaries, to read his evaluation. He said that I had problems with technique and vocal musicianship, but he believed that he could help me and was recommending me for a graduate assistantship.

"Thus began a 10-year period of private study through my master's and doctoral program, and mentoring that continued until his death.

"Most of his students appreciated him as a world-class artist-teacher who had sung in the world's most famous opera houses. We expected to gain a lot from our study, but we had little idea that we would gain lifelong lessons.

"He helped me slow down and give careful attention to every detail of vocal technique. He kept me on one Baroque song for the first three months. I learned the true value of patience!

"Professor Chabay helped me discover that the composer and his musical offerings were far more important than any performer, and that it was our privilege to interpret the music.

"He helped me to know that real joy comes from making a little bit of music every day."

Carl Moman, M.A. '66, Ph.D. '80, is the Shaw Endowed Professor of Music and chair of the Fine Arts Division at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas.