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Professor Douglas Light reflects on retirement

Prior to the faculty retirement celebration April 24, we asked our retiring faculty to reflect on their time at the College and what has kept them inspired during their tenure.

Here’s what Laurence R. Lee Family Professor of Biology Douglas Light, retiring after 15 years, had to say:

“My time at the College has been both enjoyable and rewarding: you can’t beat a liberal arts ethos and having a career as a tenured faculty member at a small liberal arts college. A complementary combination of teaching, scholarship, advising, and my continued personal learning has kept me inspired during my time at Lake Forest College. 

“From a teaching perspective, I was able to offer courses that covered topics I find personally interesting and challenging. Additionally, I taught motivated and hard-working students who had a sincere interest in learning. In other words, my innate passion for the topics coupled with my enthusiasm for teaching were reinforced and complemented by the quality and passion of our student population. 

“From a research perspective, I was fortunate to have the laboratory facilities and ancillary support that allowed me to conduct novel research with a number of students. Beyond the pure enjoyment of conducting research, solving problems, elucidating biological mechanisms, and making new discoveries, my scholarship also led to student-faculty co-authored publications. It is worth noting that collaborating with students in a research lab was a nice complement to teaching them in a classroom setting. 

“I also enjoyed advising students, helping them make both small and large decisions, as well as having casual conversations with them. It goes without saying that the raison d’etre of my job was to educate students, making them critical thinkers capable of learning independently of the instructor; and as such I was responsible for assessing and critiquing their work. Nonetheless, a big perk of being a professor at a small college is that we get to know our students well, because there is ample opportunity for having casual conversations with them. I posit that these conversations enhanced their overall educational experience. In fact, I would be a rich man if I had a nickel for every time I told a student, ‘This is part of your liberal arts experience,’ when we talked about modern events, music, a movie, a play, an historical event, etc. 

“Finally, and to be a bit self-centered with the following point, I especially enjoyed my interactions with other faculty members, including those in different fields of study. College faculty, staff, and administrators make great colleagues and helped me continue to grow intellectually, even by sometimes posing intellectual challenges that took me out of my comfort zone. A benefit of being a college professor is working daily with very smart people from whom I could learn. It is no exaggeration to state that my colleagues not only helped expand my understanding and appreciation of biology, but also for a number of other disciplines, including music, history, art, literature, and philosophy. 

“In conclusion, I have many fond memories when I think about my time at Lake Forest College!”

We invite you to join fellow alumni who are paying tribute to Professor Douglas Light’s retirement by making their annual gifts in his honor this year and emailing him to express their appreciation.