Sunday, September 30, 2018

Professor Vardaman's Influence on a Couple of Students

in England with Friends

Professor Vardaman's most special student, whom he most influenced,was Betsy, as she says in her own words:
As I told him more than once, in all the important ways he made me who I am and without question, he gave me the world . . . . Dr. Vardaman (James, Jim) obviously inspired students far and near to realize learning was the only thing for them, too. He opened minds and motivated students to weigh carefully the trajectories for their lives. He insisted that they become critical thinkers and ponder evidence.
Professor Vardaman also believed in me, and said he was proud of me, in a letter of five or six years ago, written in response to a 2012 article of mine ("Points Toward a Culture of Discussion," Resolution of Conflict in Korea, East Asia and Beyond: Humanistic Approach) that I had sent to him:
I sit here on a Thursday evening approaching 8 p.m. and hearken back over the years, remembering such warm and fine things about you. I take pride in you though perhaps I have no right to do so. I'm sure that all of the things that impel you to greatness took place in Salem, Arkansas, long before you appeared on Baylor's campus and in my life.
He's right to see that I was already set on my scholarly path before I met him (but "greatness"?) He nevertheless had some influence on me in his teaching, which I praised him for in warm words that he in turn thanked me for:
I'll always recall your intelligence, your wry humor, your hard work, and your sensitivity. . . . It is hard to believe that you have indeed become a successful Gypsy [Scholar] with your keen mind still intact. I thank you for your warm words [about my teaching and my character]. I hope I deserve some of them.
I'm sure he deserved the praise. Next, concerning the article of mine that I sent him, he wrote:
I read your article and found it deeply interesting, indeed, in places quite fascinating. It seems to me you have asked the good questions, and you certainly have picked a judicious topic! And it goes without saying that I agree with your basic thesis. What educated person could disagree with your opinion! I trust you will be convincing when you deliver your paper at your conference. It's good that you related Sam Huntington's clash of civilizations - rarely do people talk about his view of culture in a positive way as you do. I appreciate your allowing me to read your work. It is quite stimulating.
That was, in truth, a good article. A few other articles of mine attain its level, I hope. Some general observations were also forthcoming from Professor Vardaman:
You've done it well. You've paid the price. I know it has not been easy. There's the loneliness, sometimes the rejection, sometimes the longing for rich understanding from others that just won't appear when we need it most. It pleases Betsy and me that you have been selected to discourse at this global forum. Hopefully it is more than a stewpot. With you there, I think it will be.
And Betsy wrote an addendum to his letter:
Jim is very proud of you, and your sending him a copy of your paper meant a lot to him. When he put it down, the first thing he said was, "Impressive."
I could ask no higher evaluation from such an elevated source, and I hope I deserved the praise. I know I'll never hear its like again, leastways not in his voice. Now, he belongs to the ages . . .



Post a Comment

<< Home