Q & A: with George Wiley

After 35 years of teaching at Baker University, you’re bound to have seen the university change in many ways. What kind of changes have you seen at Baker since you’ve been here?

I think the quality of the faculty has gone up a good bit. There’s less antagonism between the faculty and the administration. The students who are here now are referred to as millennial generation, and I kind of understand some of those characteristics. The students in the 1970s were not like that. When I got here, it was kind of like the tail end of the 60s. The African American students had the big afros; some of them anyways. Students might have been a little freer to be different.

What has been your favorite part about teaching at BU?

I just have a lot of fun working with my students. If you teach religion you’re always dealing with the meaning of life; questions. And I find that students like to do that. I like to hear what they think and I like to tell them what I think; have it go back and forth. I like to have humor in the classroom. We may be laughing over something, and I’ll come out feeling energized. I also like working with faculty colleagues. There’s some pretty smart people here and it’s fun to be around smart people, to listen to what they have to say, ask them questions; learn from them.

What will you miss most when you retire?

I will miss my students. I’ll miss the contact in the classroom. I also really enjoy seeing them shine on the athletic field or in concerts, or good work in the Orange, things like that. And that part of it I don’t have to give up completely. I can come back and go to concerts or games.

Do you think you’ll ever get bored once you retire and want to come back and continue teaching?

Baker is so kind about offering opportunities to stay in the classroom, just part time or something, like the (Liberal Studies) program. I really appreciate that, but it sort of feels like I’m done. Thirty-five years is a lot of teaching and a lot of grading papers. I’d like to stay connected. If I live in Lawrence, I might come down for university worship sometime, stay for lunch (and) hang out. Yes, (I want to) stay connected, but probably not teach.

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