Senior Fellows class attracts big names
Class exposes students to leaders "passionate about their work"--By Jonathon M. Seidl
King’s College senior Becca Tingstrom decided to take the Senior Fellows class this fall to fill an elective slot in her class schedule. She didn’t think she’d actually end up liking it as much as she does
“I really like the dynamics,” she said, referring to the question-and-answer format of each session. “I also enjoyed that the first person interviewed wasn’t involved in politics or government.” That “person” is Max McLean, the lead actor in the stage production of C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters. “He wasn’t the typical person that comes to King’s.”
Senior Fellows is one of four new classes added this semester at King’s. The class welcomes renowned professionals to speak with students in a question-and-answer format, moderated by King’s College Provost and WORLD Editor-in-Chief Dr. Marvin Olasky.
“All of our senior fellows are senior—at least 50 years old,” Dr. Olasky wrote in an e-mail to students. “They have already had distinguished careers and are still passionate about their work.”
Students enrolled in the class must be in school leadership, attend all eight Senior Fellow sessions as well as each Statesmanship Forum, read two books, develop a 90-day plan that creates goals for their Houses or respective organization, and then implement and measure the success of each goal.
According to Olasky, Senior Fellows is meant to encourage students to think about their calling, and to give course credit to student leaders for work that can easily go unnoticed. While some may view the course as easy, Olasky doesn’t it see it that way. “I don’t have a problem with a course that is thoughtful and instructive. I want students to have time to be leaders,” he explained.
Historically there’s been no way to compensate student leaders for the long hours their jobs require. Now, if they meet the other requirements of the course, they are able to get credit. “This course recognizes the self-sacrifice and hard work of the student leaders,” Olasky said.
Students such as Tingstrom agree that the course is beneficial. “It’s creating a good structure for running the houses,” she said, specifically referring to the 90-day plan.
Despite enjoying McLean, Tingstrom’s interest in law school means the best part of the speaking schedule is yet to come. “I’m really excited about the justice and the spymaster,” she said with a big smile. The two guests she’s referring to are New York Supreme Court Justice Eugene Nardelli and international spymaster and CEO of Stratfor (Strategic Foreign Intelligence) George Friedman. Nardelli will visit on September 29 while Friedman is scheduled for October 20.
Senior Chris White is also anticipating Nardelli’s visit, but is especially looking forward to the session with political analyst Bill Moyers. Moyers, winner of over 30 Emmy Awards, will visit later this semester. White is excited to hear from someone such as Moyers who doesn’t necessarily share his views or those of his peers. And he believes that will be good for the school.
“The fact that we can bring in someone who isn’t in line with our vision, but is willing to come and give his time, legitimizes us,” he said.
More big names such as Moyers are expected next semester, according to Olasky. For example, screenwriter Joe Eszterhas recently committed to attending. Eszterhas was the highest paid screenwriter in Hollywood up until his conversion to Christianity seven years ago. His movies include popular titles such as Basic Instinct and Showgirls. While a Christian, Dr. Olasky still calls him “edgy.” Olasky is hoping that Eszterhas’s passion for his job will be a model for students.
“I don’t want at any point . . . [for our students] to wake up and not be excited to come to work. These are people who wake up and are excited about their work,” Olasky said.
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