My Brief History WIth Mr. Fay

I was a student of yours in the early 1970's, you will always be Mr. Fay to your face and Abbott in all other cases. I wanted to cut off your red tie on the days you wore them, I hated those ties. I took all three Developement of Civilization, Colorado History and a self-study Philosophy class from you. I had to write my first term paper for you. I always wanted to get an A in your class and only got B's. I did a self-discipline program with you for one quarter. It was one of the best things I did as a student.

You were a support to me when I wrote my first paper for you. My first ever. It was only three pages long and that opening sentence was hell but with your help I got it done.

I also got into a little trouble with some members of my history class being in my dorm room studying when they shouldn't have been and you helped me out. I don't know if I ever thanked you for that or if that is even something you would remember, but I do and it still means alot that you stood up for me.

I learned more from you than just history or philosophy. I learned about thinking and being able to support my beliefs. I learned to always be a student, maybe not your ideal student, but one who likes to examine and learn new things. I learned that what I get out is what I put in.

I enjoyed our disagreements in my journal and your comments written in my blue books. I liked knowing the answers on tests. I always enjoyed your class. You are one of the best things about my time at Western. Thank you.


Life's Bigger Lessons

You were my professor in the fall and spring of 1975, for classes of Western and Eastern Philosophy. Little did I know what was in store when my roommate at the time was enrolled in another one of your other classes. The class was studying dictatorships, and you had "guards" standing in the front of class to help students get a feel for "tyranny". My roommate staged a "coup" by absconding with some important class papers and then using them for extortion. He demanded that you declare him an anonymous "Liberator" for the fellow students, as well as to cease giving tests, etc. Even as you "winked" at the "overthrow" of your "rule"-- you gradually undermined the class' excitement about the Liberator's true intentions--that the Liberator, whoever it might be, was only out for themselves--and so you ultimately created a class uproar against the Liberator, leading to the return of your "rule". My roommate and the class learned a bigger lesson than could have ever been read out of books.

During a break in the "negotiations" at our college apartment, you also answered questions about your discipline program, which was independent of your other classes, and I was soon enrolled. For 10 weeks I learned about "fa" and "li" disciplines--externally vs. internally imposed disciplines--and I think of this time as a rite of passage. My life turned from reactively drifting to proactively focussed, and I learned about self-respect, self-responsibility, humility and genuine love for others and myself.

I've carried those lessons since that time--that self-identity doesn't reside in appearance, and that each of us have unique gifts to develop and offer to the greater world. THANK YOU Professor Fay--through your teaching and example, you made a profound difference in my life, which has continued to ripple outwards.

David Johnson
Lake Mills, Wisconsin