To say 2016-2017 is an eventful year would be the understatement of the century, largely due to the fact that, aside from Kobe Bryant’s retirement, Chris Blake, associate professor of English and communication, will retire from Union on May 31 after 24 years.
Blake currently teaches writing, along with public speaking/editing classes, as well as several Union Scholars classes.
During his time at Union, Blake created the Conflict and Peacemaking, Critiquing Film in a Global Context (with Dr. Robison) and Local Literary Wonders classes, the Amnesty/Tiny Hands Club, the Blake Family Peace and Social Justice Award and the Peace Sculpture Garden.
He’s also helped sponsor senior class gifts such as the gazebo and the electronic student missionary display in the Everett Dick Building lobby. Blake has enabled scores of students to get published in magazines, and for some even a book or two.
If you’re asking yourself, “Why is Blake retiring? He looks so young,” you’re not alone.
Believe it or not, Blake will be pushing 66 years in May, at which point he will have completed 40 years of working, 24 at Union College. One may conclude he served his time.
Blake goes on to say retirement is a misnomer. He speaks of plans to step aside from classroom teaching and concentrate full-time on writing books. He believes, “The process of writing is somewhat agonizing … The good kind of writing is difficult, but the bad kind is easy.”
In the past, he’s written hundreds of articles and several books, including “Searching for a God to Love” (published in five languages) and “Swimming Against the Current.”
If you haven’t gotten to know him yet, plan to. He’s happily married (celebrated 40 years this summer with a trip to Europe), has two sons, two daughters-in-law and three grandchildren. A few of his activities include lifting free weights, elliptical and ab workouts, disc golfing and mountain biking the precipitous peaks of Lincoln.
Did I mention he’s a pun master?
When asked what he will miss about teaching he responds, “I will miss a lot of aspects of teaching. I will not miss grading. You know what? I don’t like grading. In fact, I loathe grading. However, as a wise person has noted, ‘The one sign of maturity is doing what you need to do when you don’t feel like doing it.’”
Although the grading leaves much to be desired, he will miss “the students and my colleagues.”
When asked what his most memorable experience was within the last 24 years in Lincoln he speaks of the time when training for a team triathlon six years ago.
He fell from his bicycle onto the concrete bike path, broke his femur, and nearly died from pulmonary emboli 11 days later. Although not quite the experience most would see as enjoyable, it certainly is memorable.
As he prepares to start a new journey as a full-time writer, he would like students to keep three things in mind: “Go with God; enjoy the journey. The journey is much more enjoyable with God, read ‘It’s the cracked ones that let the light through’ by Paul Moore, and remember communication is the key to life.”
Although Blake is retiring from teaching, don’t fret. He plans to stay in Lincoln for at least a year afterward, so we will still see his smiling face around.
Sean Hendrix is a senior studying biomedical science.