Celebration commemorates faculty work, honors deceased faculty

By Dyana Daniels

Since its start two years ago, Columbia’s annual publication celebration has become essential to the faculty who participate. 

Members of the full and part-time faculty and their families and friends met Feb. 28 at 600 S. Michigan Ave. to recognize the written work of faculty collegewide.

More than 60 staff members submitted work for the event, which was organized by the Office of Research and Development. The works were displayed on at least seven tables in hardback, paperback and iPad format and ranged from articles on fact checking to books on typography

“We’re sharing our life’s work,” said Re’Lynn Hansen, an associate professor in the English and Creative Writing Department. “Not just professionally because these are the disciplines we teach in class, but because it’s our life’s work.

Hilary Sarat-St. Peter, an assistant professor in the English and Creative Writing Department, wrote an article for Technical Communication Quarterly titled “’Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom’: Jihadist Tactical Technical Communication and the Everyday Practice of Cooking.”

“I noticed that terrorists were publishing a lot of technical communication,” Sarat-St. Peter said. “My field is technical communication, so a lot of the scholarship in my field is about people trying to do good things through technical communication, and I thought it would be nice to study how people do bad things with it too.”

Three tables highlighted the works of Tony Del Valle, Samuel Park and John Schultz, three recently deceased faculty members. A series of tributes commemorated their work.

Hansen spoke of Del Valle, recalling the times shared at workshops and their shared experiences with cancer.

“Sometimes you pierce through the colleague barrier into the friendship barrier. I would say that happened with Tony especially because we shared the experience of having cancer,” Hansen said. “Tony was a vibrant person. He was a musician. He was a good talker and a good writer. I just hoped to express that in my tribute to him.”

Jeanne Petrolle, an associate professor in the English and Creative Writing Department, shared memories of Park, recalling the success Park had with his second novel, “This Burns My Heart,” published in July 2011.

His first novel, “Shakespeare’s Sonnets,” published in December 2006, had “something to love” because it showed his promise as an author, which was fulfilled in his later works, Petrolle said.

The celebration’s program also included reflections on the three faculty members. Randy Albers, an adjunct professor in the English and Creative Writing Department, noted Schultz’ impact and how he went to the streets to find stories. 

The purpose of the memoriam was to keep the faculty members in the hearts and minds of their colleagues, said Ames Hawkins, associate vice president of Faculty Research and Development.

“It’s important to acknowledge when people retire or pass on that they were a part of this community,” Hawkins said. “Sometimes we get caught up in our day to day and we forget that we are a part of a larger community that expands over a long period of time. And this way we can remember that these people were with us for years.”