The Transcript reports that:

For Mark C. Taylor, retiring from Williams College will not mean time for rest, relaxation and reflection, but instead the Cluett professor of humanities emeritus will continue working at another institution about four hours away.

“For the last few years I have been teaching down at Columbia (University), and finally I had to decide whether I would stay there or come back here. I decided to retire from Williams and finish my career at Columbia” he said Thursday.

Taylor became a visiting professor of religion and architecture at Columbia University in 2003, and has since become chairman of the religion department and co-director of the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life.

He said a situation arose at the university where a variety of circumstances presented an opportunity for change in which the way the graduation program is done in the religion department. He plans to be at the university to be a part of that change.

“The situation there is allowing me to put into practices many of the ideas I have developed and wrote about while I was here at Williams,” he said.

Those ideas include the integration of technology in a way that links classrooms and lessons between colleges and making education less specialized to a subject or topic.

He said the higher education system is unsustainable as it is now, and needs to be changed beginning at the graduate level.

True, but, as we have discussed, it is not clear that Mark Taylor is the solution. Best description of his recent New York Times op-ed?

It’s a frustrating piece, since it moves quickly from ‘insightful’ to ‘crackpot’ and back again.

Back to the Transcript:

“For me the teaching, research and writing have always gone together and reinforced each other that doesn’t happen as often in graduate programs,” he said.

He said the challenge academia is facing is how to create an education system that is intellectually responsible and economically viable.

Taylor retired from Williams College on June 7 after 36 years of teaching religion and philosophy among other courses including art, architecture, literature and literature theory.

“I’ve always liked teaching, and Williams has been a terrific place,” Taylor said. “I also, over the years, have done a lot of writing, and Williams was supportive and gave me the opportunity to do that.”

He said one thing he will miss about Williams College is its students.

“I’ve been fortunate over the years to have terrific students, which I have stayed in touch with,” he said. “I’ll miss the daily interaction I have with them.”

He said people often ask him why he has stayed at Williams so long.

“The answer I give is always true; the students and the mountains,” he said.

A nice line.

Taylor’s fellow Williams faculty members will note what he left out . . .

Taylor said he doesn’t plan to leave Williamstown, as he completes his teaching career at Columbia University in New York City.

“I would not have written what I have written if I had not been in this barn,” he said. “What you think is a function of where you are.”

A few years after Taylor and his wife, Dinny, moved to their house on Stone Hill in 1989, he converted a barn on their property into his study.

Taylor has written 25 books over the years, and is hoping to have three more completed by the end of the summer; a philosophical memoir, a book about art and a book about the ways higher education needs to change.

While Taylor has a doctorate in religion from Harvard University and a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Copenhagen, he has always wanted to teach.

“I don’t think there is anything better to do than work with young people at the most formative period of their lives. Nothing is more rewarding,” Taylor said.

Agreed. And that’s why I will be teaching again next Winter Study! Look for me in STAT 10: Applied Data Analysis. Taking my class will significantly increase your chances of getting a good internship or job.

Taylor’s father taught high school science, and his mother taught high school literature.

Besides teaching religion and philosophy, Taylor is a photographer and landscaper, and has had his artistic work displayed at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams.

Taylor said the humanities are always in peril because they’re the least practical, but if economists studied history and literature instead of algorithms, the financial crisis wouldn’t have happened.

“I think it’s very important for people to study religion, philosophy, literature, art and history. You can’t understand the world without them,” he said.

Classic Taylor stupidity. Almost all the people involved in the financial crisis had elite educations, with plenty of history and literature. Jimmy Lee ’75 majored in economics and art history at Williams.

Print  •  Email