It is the first day of the Minnesota State Fair, so clearly the end of summer is in sight. Fall semester classes begin Monday. That means that this week faculty have been busy putting the final touches on course syllabi, preparing to meet new students, arranging calendars to accommodate a full slate of meetings and other obligations, and attending faculty retreat. Phew.
Faculty retreat isn’t necessarily everyone’s summer highlight, but it is the event where we have a chance to honor a trio of outstanding colleagues in the areas of scholarship, teaching, and service. This year, Sam Mulberry received the Faculty Excellence Award for Service.
Ruth Nelson, who serves as Co-Director of the Academic Enrichment and Support Center with Sam, led the nomination effort. Because Sam’s service to Bethel is so multifaceted, however, a variety of folks including Christianity and Western Culture colleagues, Patrice Conrath (advising), and Kent Gerber (library) joined Ruth to help provide a glimpse of all that Sam does for this university. Together, these colleagues spoke of how Sam “produces innovative media that enhance student learning,” “builds community and mentors students,” “provides presence, voice and actions to support multiple committees and task forces,” and “pursues programs and practices that support student success.”
Former students, too, spoke of Sam’s impact on their lives:
“Sam Mulberry’s support and encouragement for his T.A.’s was never in question. From my first weekly planning meeting as a teacher’s assistant for Christianity and Western Culture, I was already caught up in the infectious laughs and sincere discussion of fellow T.A.’s and Professor Mulberry. Opening up his home to T.A.’s for team development and bonding, providing himself as a main contact we could access for academic concerns – all the while insisting we call him “Sam” – Professor Mulberry’s personal devotion to creating a unique and cohesive community for teacher’s assistants proved to be a great success. In an unsure time of all undergraduate students’ lives, when we easily felt weighed down by concerns of the future and insecurities of the present, Sam drew out and uplifted our skills and characters.
…Oftentimes there is a distinction between teachers who have a passion for their content and teachers who love their students. Professor Mulberry fits the mold of both, displaying his deep dedication to the discipline of history while continuing to enrich the lives of students through authentic relationship-building.”
Sam is extraordinary. He is truly ecumenical in his service—willing to help all: students, staff, professors, administration. Sam’s colleagues have noted that “Sam recognizes that his gifts . . . are all from the Lord and he generously gives back to see students succeed. A number of us are extremely thankful that Sam serves and works alongside us at Bethel University.”