Faculty prepare to tell JBU goodbye

Six faculty members plan to finish their last semester at John Brown University, and two more are leaving temporarily for sabbatical this May.

Jacob Stratman will leave JBU for a one year sabbatical, which he will spend at Handong Global University in Pohang, South Korea. Stratman said he and his family will live on campus at HGU, and he will be teaching writing and literature courses.

“My wife and I don’t have a whole lot of international travel experience, and we’re excited for a few reasons – professional and personal,” Stratman said.

He said personally he is excited to give his children an international experience.

Stratman said “They’ll learn Korean in the school where they’re going – and we will just be in a completely different culture and that’s so new for us, we think this will be just a really cool personal experience.”

Stratman has taught at John Brown University for 10 years, and it is the only university he has taught at outside of graduate school. “Professionally, I think it’s going to be a good break, just to teach a different student body,” Stratman said. “I’m really teaching a lot of the same courses – they’re asking me to teach some things I do here, but it’s going to be in a different context with different students so I think after 10 years, that shake up will be good.”

Jessica Hooten Wilson will also be on sabbatical next semester. She said she is “preparing Flannery O’Connor’s unfinished novel for publication.” Awarded a prestigious fellowship at Biola University, Wilson will at the University’s Center for Christian Thought in the fall.

Other faculty members, such as Warren Roby, Chad Raith, John Carmack, Paul Smith, and Jan Wubbena and Randy Hollingsworth, will be leaving JBU permanently this year.

Roby is retiring from teaching after working at several universities and serving as professor of language studies at JBU since 2000. Alyssa Bowerman, who has been Roby’s TA for the last two and a half years, praised Roby, saying, “He’s been a great boss…he loves language and one of his greatest passions is seeing how the students grow from not knowing very much or not having a great base or none to actually being able to fluently speak it.”

Jan Wubbena, Paul Smith and John Carmack are also retiring at the end of the semster.

Hollingsworth has worked as a professor of communication at JBU for two years. He will be resigning from JBU after this semester and has accepted a teaching position at Toccoa Falls college in Georgia to be closer to his children and grandchildren.

He and his wife enjoyed the time they lived in Siloam Springs. “I don’t think I could ever ask for a better school than JBU,” he said. “We have been blessed even just the two years that we’ve been here.”

Raith is an assistant professor of religion and philosophy at JBU. He has been at JBU for five years.

In a formal announcement on his Facebook page, Raith explained why he is leaving JBU permanently.

“The administration has reaffirmed that JBU remains (and will remain) a professional university that emphasizes professional degrees and teaching, and not a liberal arts institution that emphasizes the humanities, research and publishing, and thus we [JBU and I] have mutually felt that my interests had reached the limitations of what JBU seeks to be as an institution,” Raith wrote.

Raith commented on what has been the most memorable and special to him regarding his time at JBU. “By far it has been the transformation and excitement I’ve seen in students when they’ve encountered the thick Christianity they were able to receive from taking an upper-level theology course,” he said

“I’ve loved discovering with my students the deep wonders, mystery and beauty of the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Students were no longer able to relegate the Christian faith to compartment of their life; they began to realize that the Christian faith is all encompassing, impacting every component of life,” Raith added.

As he prepares to say goodbye to the JBU community, Raith offered some parting words. “God wants you to love him with your mind. He gave it to you primarily not to make good grades (though that is good), not to get a degree (though that is good), and not to teach, research and publish on your academic specialization (though that is also good) but to know him deeply,” he said. “And this so that you can love him deeply, for in the words of St. Augustine, ‘You cannot love what you do not know.’”