ON WE GO! – March 21, 2018
Submitted on March 21, 2018
For my Perspective today, I am taking a break from budgets and accreditation matters, and thinking of education’s higher calling in the form of learning guided by faculty. Stories of our favorite professors abound, but I want to share with you one that is bringing me joy today. It is about the most demanding, and most beloved, professor I ever encountered.
Dr. Cronje Burnford Earp was a professor of classical languages, with whom I studied Greek during the latter years of his teaching career. There was much about him that was absolutely endearing, including his extraordinary dedication to his classes. At my undergraduate college there was a policy that if a professor was ten minutes late for class, the students could leave, on the assumption that the professor had been detained, and would not be at class that hour. It may have been a fair and effective policy for most professors, but Dr. Earp annulled it the first day of class, on the grounds that any class he taught was his class, and it would begin when he arrived! Thus, he would never be late, and anyone who dared leave before he arrived was risking the right to remain in his course!
In spite of some health issues experienced by him and his wife, Dr. Earp was religiously early for class meetings. But, on one occasion his policy was tested. On that particular day, Dr. Earp did not appear for our 10:00 a.m. class. The room was filled with primarily freshmen and sophomore students, all of whom remained an astonishing 45 minutes of what was scheduled to be a 50-minute class. At the 45-minute mark, we heard Dr. Earp shuffling his feet down the hallway. Quickly taking our seats, we awaited his arrival, and expected a brief explanation of his tardiness. None came! He simply walked to the front of the room, with not a word of explanation, opened his book, and lectured for five minutes on a select point of Greek grammar. He then closed his book, and exited the room. I was in awe!
Through the years, my appreciation for Dr. Earp has only grown. I survived several of his courses, and parlayed the lessons he taught me into the achievement of graduate degrees and a successful career in higher education. His influence remains a cherished portion of who I am as a person, for his expectations and lessons helped shape my own life’s principles and practices. I thank God for Dr. Cronje Earp, and for what he meant to me over 40 years ago. Today, I am also deeply grateful for strong faculty whose influence continues to shape Georgetown College students.
On We Go!