Mark Cantrell, associate professor of English, has been named the George Washington Institute of Living Ethics’ (GWI) Scholar of Living Ethics.
Cantrell, who teaches 20th century literature, poetry and philosophy, was notified of his selection shortly after receiving tenure last spring. Chris Ames, vice president of academic affairs, “brought me into his office to discuss it,” Cantrell said. Since receiving the position, Cantrell has met with the directors of the GWI to discuss his role on campus.
Don Pattoff, a member of the executive board of the GWI told The Picket that Cantrell’s role on campus will include exploring and nurturing “community ethics in order to give voice to the character of our nation and its communities as first reflected in George Washington and cultivated in his family homeland.”
According to their website, the GWI “is a uniquely American center for ethics” and focuses on “the many ethical challenges facing the world today.”
Cantrell described his primary task as encouraging a discussion of ethics on campus. The position demands approximately five hours of work a week, which led department chair Betty Ellzey to reduce Cantrell’s teaching load by one class.
On March 20, the GWI will partner with the common reading program, under Cantrell’s guidance, for a discussion of environmental ethics. The presentation will be held in the Byrd Center for Legislative Studies at 6 p.m. and will draw in some material from “Strange as This Weather Has Been,” the 2013–2014 common reading selection.
Last semester, journalist and author Gary Younge presented a program about Martin Luther King, Jr., which was Cantrell’s first program organized through his new role with the university.
Junior English major Eileen Waggoner credited Cantrell’s honors English and philosophy class with converting her to an English major from the political science department. “He leads an engaging classroom,” she added.
Senior English major Aja Bailey believes Cantrell is ideally suited for the position. “I always look forward to his classes,” she said. “He truly cares about the success of his students.”
Cantrell admitted some of the responsibilities involved in his new position fall outside his area of expertise, including project management and events organization, but he acknowledges he is very excited about this new part of his academic career.
LaShawn Tolson, a senior English major, was excited to hear about other upcoming programs Cantrell will spearhead through his new position. He’s “always kept my attention in class through relevant and intellectual discussions,” she said.
Cantrell hopes to sponsor other events on campus and encourages students and community members to be on the lookout for notices.