We see them every day. We know how they lecture, what their PowerPoint slides look like and how they interact with the class. Northwestern students know their professors fairly well inside the classroom, but what do they know about them outside of the lecture hall? What makes our beloved campus professors tick?
The answer lies in their hobbies. They may be professors by day, but in the evening, when they go home, they’re cyclists, travelers, readers, poets, musicians and more.
During midterms week, as the sun was coming out and students were hitting the books, many professors were probably outside hitting the bike trails.
Dr. Tom Truesdell, an English professor, shared that there’s a group of NW faculty that cycle together frequently.
“We just ride bikes every Tuesday night,” he said.
Dr. Scott Monsma, professor of the sociology department, has been riding bikes since he was a child.
“It’s a great thing to do,” Dr. Monsma said. “Unless you’re dodging cars.”
For safety reasons, he never rides without his helmet.
“I want mohawk stripes for my helmet,” Dr. Monsma said.
After riding 16,000 miles in the past eight years, he knows how to effectively get through a long ride. What’s his secret motivation?
“You ride 25 miles,” Dr. Monsma said, “you stop and get an ice cream cone.”
Meanwhile, professor of physics, Dr. Emily Grace enjoys cycling as far as she can, especially on gravel roads.
“I love endurance athletic training as it gives me lots of time to process thoughts,” Dr. Grace said. “Also, it does not matter that I am not particularly fast. When you cover that much ground – who cares how long it takes?”
One of our campus professors loves to hit the road on a Harley Davidson Softail Deluxe, a motorcycle with a retro vibe, Dr. Lila Sybesma of the education department.
“I love motorcycling, putting on about 10,000 miles each summer,” Dr. Sybesma said.
Her miles on the road have been adding up in multiple different areas – Colorado, Tennessee and through the Appalachians.
As others travel by two wheels, Dr. Dan Young, political science professor, shares his love of road trips via four wheels.
“Growing up my family always went on lengthy car trips, usually out west,” Dr. Young said. “I’m hoping to be able to show my kids some other places out west, plus some big cities on the east coast.”
Other professors share this passion for travel. Professor Piet Koene, from the Spanish department, mainly travels to National Parks.
Although many professors love getting away, either to the bike trails or another state, some are content simply relaxing with a good book. Dr. Michael Kugler, history professor, reads a variety of genres, including science fiction, horror, philosophy, theology and comic books.
Dr. Laird Edman expressed his love of music and reading,
“I love to listen to and play music and read, read, read,” Edman said.
Dr. Jim Mead, theology professor, also enjoys reading.
“I enjoy reading both fiction, novels, short stories and especially science fiction and non-fiction, anything that integrates faith with science, history, politics, etc,” Dr. Mead said.
A similar love of words has led Dr. Cambria Kaltwasser, theology professor, to enjoy poetry.
“While in seminary, I started hosting my own poetry slams, and for over a decade now I have been inviting friends over to delight in the beauty of words,” Dr. Kaltwasser said. “What I love about poems is that they offer such concentrated observations of life in all its humor, sorrow and ordinariness.”
Poets gather and revel in the beauty of words, and meanwhile Dr. Truesdell and his band craft their own words and musical notes into original songs as a collective hobby. The band, Prince Lev, has five original songs.
“They would describe it as rock generically,” Dr. Truesdell said. “Kind of has a 90’s sound to it.”
Many students know their professors as simply teachers of whatever discipline they go to class to learn about. However, they truly are more than just teachers. They are athletes, artists, explorers and seekers of the beauty of God’s world.