If you notice something missing in the Biblical Studies Deparment this semester, it could be Cary Balzer.
Balzer, John Brown University’s director of faculty development and an associate professor of Biblical Studies, is taking a
sabbatical this semester.
“Taking a sabbatical is part of a larger faculty development plan that schools like John Brown have,” Balzer said. “It’s part of the package of being a professor.” Professors aren’t required to take a sabbatical, but the offer is available for all faculty, he said.
“The tradition is that after working in academia for seven years, you have to take a semester off,” said Balzer’s wife Tracy, the University’s director of Christian formation. “And that semester is not just for vacation, but for professional development and just to kind of step away from what you typically do to reflect some and plan ahead some.”
Cary related a sabbatical to the Sabbath. The words come from the same Greek root. Like the Sabbath, a sabbatical is designed to provide a change of pace from the ordinary. Cary said his change of pace will come from breaking away from teaching and performing his regular duties at the University to conducting research and teaching in new places.
This isn’t Cary’s first sabbatical. He took one seven or eight years ago, he said, and it was a very productive time. He produced at least one book as the result of his last sabbatical.
Cary has divided his current sabbatical into halves.
The first half he intends to spend doing research on faculty development, he said. He will be analyzing the strategies of other schools and planning ways to improve the faculty development at John Brown University.
Cary and Tracy Balzer will spend the second half of Cary’s sabbatical in England and Scotland. “We have plans to leave on March 21,” Tracy said. “We will spend two months in England and Scotland doing a variety of research and presentations.”
While in England, the Balzers will be staying at Cliff College, a small Christian college in the middle of the country, Tracy said.
“There aren’t very many of those in England at all. It’s not like the United States where we have lots of Christian universities,” she said.
Cary will be giving presentations about faculty development while at the college, and Tracy Balzer will be assisting them with chapel services.
One of the main reasons Cary wants to spend part of his sabbatical in England is to study and research in areas that theologian John Wesley studied, he said. Cary’s doctoral dissertation was on Wesley’s concept of salvation. He believes experiencing historical places and being in the same places as historical figures makes teaching about those things more interesting.
“I’m going to focus most on the professional scholarship of John Wesley’s doctrine of sanctification,” Cary said. In fact, from this
focus and research, he hopes to publish his latest book, “Balancing Faith and Holiness: John Wesley’s Developing Doctrine of Sanctification”, during his sabbatical.
The Balzers will return home in mid-May, just in time for them to lead John Brown University’s team mission trip to Ireland, Tracy said.
Cary will be back at the university full-time in the fall.