Richard E. Caulkins named Professor Emeritus
May 13, 2009
At the 63rd Commencement, Dr. Richard E. Caulkins was named Professor Emeritus. He has taught and served students and colleagues of the College for 53 years.
In 1956, when first offered the job at Corban (then Western Baptist Bible College), Caulkins almost turned it down; he and his wife, Eris, couldn’t afford cost of living on that salary. However, he accepted the position when housing and the choir director stipend of $50 per month was also extended. Since that time he has filled roles like organizer of tours, athletic coach, department head, Academic Dean, and teacher of so many subjects: English History, philosophy, writing, and a variety of courses on great literature, to name a few.
Caulkins received his B.A. from Westmont College in 1947, his M.A. from Oregon State University around 1980, and his Ph.D. from the University of Oregon in 1985. In addition, he holds a second B.A. from the University of California and an honorary doctorate (Doctor of Letters) from Corban. Caulkins spent a sabbatical year in 1977, studying at the University of London. With his wife and elementary-aged son, Colin, he lived with a vicar — fully immersed in English culture and even singing tenor for the Anglican choir.
Professor of Humanities Jim Hills, Caulkins’s colleague for 36 years, admires, “He has been a model of scholarship, intellectual vitality and breadth, and Christian commitment to generations of students and to his friends and fellow faculty members.”
Caulkins once led the English Department faculty in a series of informal studies on the subject of his doctoral work, George Herbert. “Those lectures were not only brimming with information, but were so moving they brought us to the edge of tears,” expresses Hills. “He showed us then, as he often has, that for a great teacher there is no division between head and heart.”
Marty Trammell, Professor of Humanities and a former student of Caulkins, praises his teaching style. It is sometimes lecturing and sometimes Socratic; he knows the right questions to ask at the right time to invite students into a conversation about the material.
Provost Matt Lucas, another of Caulkins’s former students, holds him in the highest esteem: “He is a key person in shaping my professional life. It is not an understatement to say that I would not be here without him.”
Caulkins readily relays that C.S. Lewis is his favorite subject. Last March, the Caulkins Lectureship series — which is named in his honor — brought Christian theologian Dr. Christopher Mitchell from Wheaton College (Ill.) to Corban. Mitchell is internationally recognized for his scholarship on C.S. Lewis and serves as Director of the Wade Center, an acclaimed repository and research facility for the writings of Lewis and other noted British authors. Caulkins said of the lectures: “We both teach Lewis, but we go about it in different ways” — and Caulkins was delighted to see Lewis from Mitchell’s perspective.
In the fall, Caulkins will teach one course on Lewis and also devote time to compiling a history of Corban and also works of Christian literature. Along with his continued scholarly pursuits, he and his wife will continue gardening and reading murder mysteries, of which they’ve read more than 1,000 authors.