Einolf Gives Farewell Address to the Mount Community

On Sunday, April 30, Dr. Karl Einolf gave his farewell address to the Mount community during the Honors Convocation before he begins his presidency at the Indiana Institute of Technology (commonly known as Indiana Tech). After his speech, Interim President Tim Trainor awarded Einolf with the 2017 President’s Medal.

Below is the video and transcript of Einolf’s speech.

“Thank you, Dr. Hunter-Cevera for your kind and very generous introduction.

Good afternoon.  I’d like to begin by thanking all of you – President Trainor, Provost Hunter-Cevera, Dr. McCarthy, Dr. Ward, fellow Deans, my dear faculty colleagues, students, parents, and families – for indulging me in this opportunity to speak to you.  I’ll admit that I agreed to do this knowing that I would follow a fantastic speech given by Katherine Wu our Flanagan Prize winner.  And Katherine, you did not disappoint.  Bravo.

I was blessed to have the opportunity to travel with Katherine on a study-abroad trip to China – and I’ll admit that spending time with this intelligent, humble, friendly, and spiritual young woman was a highlight of the trip.

Katherine – your reflection on what Mount St. Mary’s University means to you was incredibly inspiring – and your words reaffirmed for me that we are getting it right.  We truly have created an educational experience that is deeply rooted in the Catholic vision of the person and that prepares students for a successful engagement with the world.

So while Katherine embodies everything that we do right for students, I’d like to humbly suggest that the Mount has also done the same to develop its faculty – and especially this faculty member who stands before you.  This wonderful institution has been successful in molding me, shaping me, teaching me, and preparing me for the world.  Now I wasn’t as quick of a learner as Katherine – it’s taken me 19 years to graduate – and I am certainly not worthy of the Flanagan prize.  But I stand here today – in front of my faculty colleagues and in the spiritual presence of faculty colleagues already passed – grateful for the education I received at Mount St. Mary’s.  While I am getting increasingly sentimental as the date of my departure gets closer, I know that I am ready for Indiana Tech because of everything I learned here.

The purpose of my talk today is to share my perspective of the incredible learning opportunities the Mount provides for its faculty – and how these opportunities parallel what we offer our students.

I first stepped onto the Mount St. Mary’s campus on Tuesday, February 3, 1998 – the day of my campus interview.  Now how do I remember the exact date?  Certainly it was a memorable day – but a momentous event occurred in my life three days earlier: my wife, Maria and I, had our first child, Nicholas Paul.  And because I was here on campus for my interview, I actually missed the opportunity to drive Maria and Nicholas home from the hospital.  My own mom was kind enough to fill in for me, and in the end it was a good trade off.

So I came to campus filled with the joy of being a new father, and I walked into Provost Carol Hinds’ office armed with a big smile and a set of pictures of my beautiful newborn.  I remember that Carol had a plastic toy gun on her desk – I asked her if she took it from a student – she said “No – it’s mine and I use it to fight off demanding faculty members!”  I laughed, too.

During the interview Carol asked me a question that I admit now I was not prepared for.  I was not the product of a liberal arts education – and although I was raised Catholic, I was not at all educated in the academic Catholic intellectual tradition.  Carol, who I know was having some fun with me, asked me how I reconcile being both an economist and a Catholic.  Great question for a new faculty member at the Mount, right?  Well, I guess I am lucky that I was hired – because my answer was bad.  I said something about how being Catholic made me a good role model for students – blah, blah, blah.  I said nothing about questioning the assumption of self-interested economic actors, social utility theory, public goods, human dignity, social justice, etc.  Looking back, it’s a bit embarrassing.  But Carol obviously saw in me a willingness to learn – even though she probably realized then that it would take me 19 years to get there.

So as I look at my faculty colleagues – I think about what you all taught me over the years.  And more importantly – how you all taught me.   Certainly I want our institutional processes that support faculty development to continue for many years to come.

So here is what you taught me:

Let’s start with basics-you taught me to be a better writer:

Our students may not be aware that all new tenure track faculty have this five-year multi-draft writing assignment that we call a tenure narrative!  But this assignment – while at times a bit excruciating – actually helped me to be a better writer.  I received great feedback from senior members of the business department to better articulate how my teaching, scholarship, and service supports and advances our mission.  And yes, I am defending the tenure narrative…

And then once I was tenured, I joined the Tenure, Rank, and Awards Committee where we, as a team, would write tenure recommendation letters; and these letters are written carefully and purposefully.  I remember spending hours and hours with Mary Hamel – expanding my vocabulary, expressing with clearer prose, learning the appropriate use of commas, and removing the word “very” (Mary cringed every time I used the word “very” – and I very much like to use the word very…)

You taught me to embrace diversity and our global community:

I was inspired by Emilio Rodriguez, Bob Kalis, and many others on the Foreign Studies Committee.  They encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone, to immerse myself in Italian culture, to take a semester of Italian with Michael Sollenberger (and I got an A by the way), to develop a course on Renaissance Art, and to lead a group of Mount students to Florence.  Easily the best semester of my career.

Since then I’ve experienced Russia with Patrice Flynn and China with Michael Barry (and Katherine Wu).

You taught me to appreciate and understand the importance of the liberal arts and to engage in a rigorous study of the Western tradition.

I participated in three Delaplaine Seminars in my time here – one led by John Donovan and Robert Ducharme and two led by Peter Dorsey.  All three seminars opened my mind to new areas of inquiry; they gave me the opportunity to critically evaluate works of literature; and they allowed me to debate and learn from you – my faculty colleagues.

You taught me an understanding of the Catholic Vision of the Human Person.

I was fortunate to attend the Catholic Intellectual Tradition Seminar for faculty with Bill Collinge and David Cloutier.  Not only did the seminar teach me how to better articulate my own contribution to our Catholic liberal arts mission as dean of the Business School, but I also had the opportunity to work with and learn from our superstar junior faculty.

You taught me to deepen my relationship with God. 

There are so many faithful people at the Mount, and you all have taught me to be silent and listen to God, to pray, to be honest and humble, to love unconditionally, and to be a believer.

You taught me to be an effective leader.

I’ve been so blessed to have great mentors over the years here: George Houston, Carol Hinds, Tom Powell, David Rehm, Kirk Davidson, Charlie Beitz, and John Hook to name a few.  Charlie Beitz used to run a seminar series on leadership for honors students – I attended every one of his sessions five years in a row.  So I learned and relearned his lessons on the effective leadership styles of Dorothy Day, Ernest Shackleton, and Colin Powell.

You taught me to be skeptical, to question authority, and to make ethical decisions. 

We are not puppets and no position, no job, and no title is worth comprising ethical principles and our moral compass.

And finally, by all of your examples, you taught me how to be successful.

And for our students here – being successful is not really all that complicated.  This is what our faculty taught me:

First, it is up to YOU to define what it means to be successful – no one else can dictate how YOU live a good life.

And once you understand your purpose, your vision for your future, and what will make you happy – here are some things that helped me find success:

  • Always be prepared.
  • Know your stuff.
  • Have a positive attitude.
  • Enjoy yourself and smile.
  • Show up on time.
  • If you say you’re going to do something, do it.
  • Be kind – especially when delivering bad news.
  • And lastly – don’t forget to smile.

As some of you know, my favorite band is The Killers – and my favorite song of theirs is called Sam’s Town written by Brandon Flowers.  (Now there are two versions, so if you go download it, the better one is the Abbey Road version from the Sawdust album.)

The Killers are from Las Vegas, and that’s where they got their start.  For years they were the house band at the Sam’s Town Casino and Hotel.  It’s a good distance away from the Vegas Strip.

And now Brandon Flowers may not be in Sister Anne’s league when it comes to poetry, but I think that his words and this song are relevant for our students – and me – who will soon be graduating and leaving the Mount.

In the song, Brandon Flowers and the Killers have just been offered the opportunity to leave the Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino and tour the world – beginning in London.  Brandon describes the feeling:

I’ve got this energy beneath my feet

Like something underground’s gonna come up and carry me

I’ve got this sentimental heart that beats

But I don’t really mind that it’s starting to get to me

In the next stanza, we realize that Brandon is a bit insecure about the future, and he’s uncomfortable leaving Las Vegas and his familiar Sam’s Town.  He sings:

And I’m sick of all my judges

So scared of what they’ll find

But I know that I can make it

As long as somebody takes me home

Every now and then

And then the song crescendos with:

You know I see London; I see Sam’s Town

Holds my hand, and lets my hair down

Rolls that world right off my shoulder

I see London; I see Sam’s Town

The Mount is my Sam’s Town.  It’s where I’ve grown up; it’s where I’ve learned my craft; it’s my home.  And I know that wherever I go from here, I will be okay, because I will always carry the Mount with me.  Any time I have doubts or fears or insecurities, I will close my eyes and bring myself back here – to a place where I have great support and comfort.

You taught me so much.  And I will take what I’ve learned with me to Indiana Tech. And Indiana Tech will become a better place because of all of you.

Now back to that newborn son – that son who was three days old when I first arrived.  Well, this story has come full circle for me and Maria, and our newborn is now a fine young man and a student here at the Mount – a member of our freshmen class.  Maria and I can think of no better compliment to our faculty, administration, and staff than to trust you with the education of our own son. {And Maria and Nick are both here today along with my second son, Thomas.  Maria, I love you, and I am grateful for your unwavering support.  Nick, I love you, I am so proud of you and happy that you found your place here at the Mount.  And Thomas, you know that I love you too.}

Watching the Mount experience through Nick’s eyes has reaffirmed everything I love about this place.  And when I say I love this place – and it is a beautiful place – what I really mean to say is that I love all of you.  For it is the people that make a place.  You are my Sam’s Town and I love you.

I will always be grateful for each and every one of you.  May God continue to bless you.  Thank you!”

Rebecca Schisler

News Editor for The Mountain Echo

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