With the 2021-2022 academic year approaching its final weeks, the Luther community is saying goodbye to another class of seniors, as well as several faculty members who are retiring or leaving to pursue other ventures. Retirees include Professor of English and Luther alum David Faldet (‘79) and Professor of Music, Organist, and Luther alum Gregory Peterson (‘83). Following their careers elsewhere will be Associate Professor of Religion Todd Green, Assistant Professors of Economics Sam Bird and Amanda Lindsay, Professor of Voice and Luther alumna Emily Dirks (‘18), and Assistant Professor of Music Jason Britton.
Though never an easy decision to make, the question of when to retire is one that every educator must face at some point. Faldet has been a part of the Luther community since 1975, first as a student, and later as a faculty member, but has decided it is time to enjoy other parts of his life outside of teaching.
“I think it’s time for me to step aside and let younger people take over,” Faldet said. “It’s also time for me to move on. I’ve been doing this for 34 years, I’m excited about the new possibilities. In retirement, I’m hoping to do more wood carving. I [also] love gardening, and I raise flowers.”
Throughout his time teaching at Luther, Faldet has taught Paideia 111 and 112, Victorian Literature, Writing for Media, led the study abroad about Tolkien and Lewis In Context, and has published both his book King: A Mystery, and several poems, including his most recent, Millennium. Faldet has also been the academic advisor of CHIPS for 18 years, an aspect of his career at Luther that is greatly appreciated by the CHIPS staff.
“I have only been here for a brief period of his tenure as advisor, but I feel I can safely say that [Faldet] has always had a very unique and supportive relationship with CHIPS as an organization,” CHIPS Editor-in-Chief Olivia Schmidt (‘22) said. “We are a completely student-run publication, and he has always respected our privilege to cover stories and topics based on our own discretion. That being said, he is without fail right there and ready to give feed-back, providing his wisdom and applying his experience to any problem we may present to him. [Faldet] has been such a guiding force for CHIPS, and I am certain his absence going forward will be keenly felt.”
Gregory Peterson will also be retiring at the end of spring, after teaching at Luther and playing organ for chapel services and concerts for 17 years. Peterson began playing piano at an early age, and ended up taking organ lessons at his local church. During his time as a Luther student, Peterson studied music, and in 2005, became a professor. Along with the many courses he taught, Peterson served as the conductor for the Luther Ringers, and taught many study abroad courses in Paris, Namibia, and South Africa. When reflecting on his time at Luther, Peterson brought up his experience watching various students grow over their four years under his instruction.
“I have always tried to be a very student-focused professor,” Peterson said. “My greatest memories are, and will continue to be, the success of my students. When you take a student from where they start, take them all the way through the four years of learning to play an instrument, and you get to bring them to play a recital, it’s such an amazing moment. I will always remember the really large number of fantastic students I was able to coach.”
Besides those retiring, the Luther community will be wishing the best of luck to those faculty members who have chosen to pursue other ventures in their careers. These range from continued education, to positions at other colleges, to being asked to head non-profit organizations. Professor Dirks has accepted an opportunity to pursue her Master’s degree, and Professors Bird and Lindsay have taken positions at Bates College in Maine.
Todd Green, Associate Professor of Religion, will be taking a position as the head of a nonprofit based in D.C. Green started at Luther in the fall of 2008 and taught a range of subjects, including History of Christianity, Religion and Politics: Interfaith Dialougue, Imagining Religion with the Beatles, and Islam and Islamaphobia. Green is the author of two books: The Fear of Islam: An Introduction to Islamophobia in the West, and Presumed Guilty: Why We Shouldn’t Ask Muslims to Condemn Terrorism, the former of which was cited in an amicus curiae brief filed by civil rights organizations in the Supreme Court in 2018. When asked how he began his journey advocating against Islamophobia, Green spoke of his own experience as a minister.
“I think my personal interest stems from a broader interest of people finding themselves as minorities,” Green said. “I grew up in the deep south and felt like an outsider, gravitating towards people that couldn’t quite fit in. I was a minister during 9/11, and I remember the immediate challenges. I wanted to help people better understand Islam, and do more to reach out to Muslim neighbors.”
Though they will be missed, the Luther community wishes all of the faculty leaving this spring a heartfelt goodbye. Luther administration hopes to find equally talented and driven individuals to uphold the Luther faculty’s high standards of education.