Professor panel: if you could go back to college…

Question: If you could go back to college and spend all four years answering one question, what question would it be and why?

Sean Evans

Professor of Political Science and Department Chair

“What is the good life?” This question deals with the most important matters, such as family, religion, career, politics, knowledge, and fulfillment. To answer this question, you have to think about the fundamentals of life: Is there a God and what does that mean for my life? What is human nature, the causes of conflict, the nature of right and wrong, the role of the citizen, family, church, and other voluntary groups in a community? How do we interact with others, how likely people and communities change, how we can bring about positive change, and so much more? Answering this question requires one to delve into the realm of politics, theology, ethics, philosophy, history, science, literature, art, music, and more. Moreover, answering the question is one that must be lived out as much as read and reflected upon. Hopefully, this study this would better prepare me to understand the changes in our society and point toward the best way to live in harmony with humanity, nature, and God.



Chris Hail

Professor of Mathematics

If given the opportunity to relive my college days, the one big question I would pursue is, “Who am I?” I probably thought I was trying to answer that question back then, and it is even more likely that I thought I knew the answer. But I am confident my answer would have been mostly incorrect. It wasn’t until I graduated and encountered the teachings and writings of people such as Bob Warren, Dan Stone and Watchman Nee that I learned how important it is to answer that question correctly. Their teachings on our identity in Christ opened a whole new perspective of my faith journey. Passages such as Col. 1:1-3, I John 3:1, Rom. 5:1, and Col. 1:27 are now foundational to my understanding of my relationship with God. Now, as I mentor athletes and college students, these truths are my starting point in those relationships. I want them to see that their identity sets the stage for their service instead of the other way around. As Bob Warren would say, “What you do is not who you are, but who you are has a great effect on what you do.”



Mary Anne Poe

Dean of the School of Social Work

My question would be, “What kind of person do I want to be?” I had a fabulous college experience making new friends, exploring new ideas, experiencing independence, and having fun, such as rafting, skiing, hiking, and eating hot Krispy Kreme donuts after studying. Although I was confronted with daunting questions, such as what my career would be and would I get married and to whom, from my perspective now, the most important question is about the kind of person I want to be. As a follower of Christ, those other questions have less power to produce anxieties and fears and instead give me occasion to trust God’s faithfulness. It’s the habits of my life and heart that determine what kind of person I am going to be and, often, what opportunities arise for jobs or a mate. Spending my college years deciding what kind of person I want to be would focus my attention toward developing habits that lead to the discipline, courage, kindness, joy, diligence, peace, patience, and hopefulness that make good spouses, neighbors, and employees.



Steve Halla

Associate Professor of Art

If I could go back to college and spend all four years answering one question, it would be, “What does it mean to be human?” Here are three reasons why I love this question: First, it can be asked in the context of any and every academic discipline, e.g., art, biology, nursing, physics,

sociology, psychology, Christian studies, etc., with each discipline offering its own unique insights, perspectives, and additional food for thought. Second, when asked, it invariably leads to other great questions: Does God exist? What is love? What is beauty? Does life have inherent value and meaning?  And thirdly, it lies at the heart of so many of our current national topics of interest and debate, from gender issues (What is the nature of human sexuality?) to mass shootings (Why do people to commit senseless acts of violence?) to artificial intelligence and technology (At what point does a machine cease from being just a machine?). It is a question that is as timeless as it is relevant and as personal as it is universal.


Bethany Murphy

Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice

If I could go back to college and spend all four years answering one question, I think that question would be, “what can I do today to positively impact someone else?” College flies by so quickly, and when it’s over, it’s easy to look back and see so many missed opportunities to make a difference in the lives of friends and fellow classmates. I would have loved to take better advantage of my short amount of time with these individuals by actively trying each day to do something to make a positive impact on someone else. Whether through kind words, a helping hand, or even by sharing the Gospel with some who needed to hear it, spending four years answering this question every single day would’ve allowed me to use my time in college to make a much bigger impact on others.

Originally ran in the Fall 2017 Cardinal and Cream magazine.

About Ali Renckens 39 Articles
Ali, a member of the Union University class of 2018, is double-majoring in English and journalism. She serves as Managing Editor for the Cardinal & Cream. Her three life goals are to write, travel and live in a beach house.