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Distinguished Professor of Humanics: Robert Barkman 2010-2011

Robert Barkman 2010-2011

Title of Humanics Lecture
A Celebration of Teaching

Earned Degrees
Ph.D., University of Cincinnati (1969)
Master of Science, University of Cincinnati (1966)
Bachelor of Arts, Wittenberg University (1964)

Final Title at Springfield College
Professor Emeritus Science and Education

Short statement that describes what it means to be a Distinguished Professor of Humanics:
When I was first introduced to the humanics philosophy as a rookie professor, I thought the mission of serving others was no different from the mission of other colleges. I was wrong. I learned quickly that what set Springfield College apart from other colleges is our dedication to educate the whole person—in spirit, mind, and body. It is our belief that knowing how to keep fit and practicing eating well is as important as knowing about the chemistry of DNA. Helping students to grow in their religious and spiritual beliefs brings students full circle to becoming a complete person.

Our mission to serve others seemed to be in the DNA of my colleagues and students. Students recruited to SC are people persons, well rounded, and leaders who plan their careers to serve others. It was from seeing my colleagues and students practice humanics that I learned the meaning and value of humanics. I was no longer surprised to hear or read about my students volunteering to mentor children from urban schools, work in their free time to organize food drives for the needy, or coach a youth soccer team. I was no longer surprised to learn that a colleague used her vacation time to build a school in Ghana or another colleague volunteered to lead a sports clinic for hundreds of students in Brazil. To be recognized as a Distinguished Professor of Humanics is truly humbling. I thank my colleagues and students for inspiring me to follow in their footsteps.

Short statement that describes how you continued to live the Humanics mission after your year as Distinguished Professor of Humanics:
Edwin is a 23-year-old young adult who in his own words, says “that he is now starting to figure things out.” For the first 22 years, he made bad choices. He dropped out of school when he was 12- 13 years old. With little support from his family- his mother was a drug addict and his father lived in a shelter- he left on his own. First living on the street and later, in a shelter, he discovered ROCA. ROCA is nonprofit agency designed to help high risk young men leave the streets and gangs and go to work. Through relentless outreach, tailored programming and collaboration with community partners, ROCA helps young men transform their lives.

Why am I telling you this story? I have had the privilege of volunteering for ROCA the past three years. Edwin is one of the young men I have mentored to help them earn the equivalency of a high school degree. After over a year of working with Edwin, he passed all 6 tests in December. Along with studying for the test, I helped him to shop for groceries and occasionally took him to church. He is now on the road to becoming an electrician and I’m confident that he will be one of the best. We will celebrate his achievements by planning lunch at Longhorns Restaurant (Edwin loves beef).

Our church offers many ways to give back. It has given me the opportunity to pound nails for habitat, serve food in a soup kitchen, and mentor confirmands. I continue to serve as one of the directors of Emerson Manor which is a senior low-income housing apartment subsidized by the federal government. Once a month, a friend and I play our ukuleles and lead a sing-along for seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. To see the faces of these patients light up when the music begins reinforces the value of our mission to serve others.

Addendum: Dr. Barkman passed away in July of 2022. You may find his obitutary here.

Image Credit: Springfield College Archives