DIEPHOUSE RETIRES AFTER A REMARKABLE 36 YEARS
A remarkable 36 years. That is the briefest summary of the work of Dr. Dan Diephouse, professor and chair of the English department, who retired this year after many years of dedicated teaching. Like one of the hundreds of books stacked on the shelves lining his office walls, the phrase “thirty-six years” binds together each day in that volume of time and covers it neatly without revealing any of the story inside.
Many might write a foreword, including the faculty and staff with whom Diephouse has shared an academic and social camaraderie. Or it could be written by one of the more than 5,300 students who, through literature and film, were taught to “build an appreciation for voices” that were not their own.
Prefacing the past years, Diephouse said, “It’s fun to reminisce.” In a recent report to the board of trustees, he referred to the changes that have occurred on campus over the past years but said that pervading all the changes is a mutual encouragement among faculty, students and staff.
“Because of who we are, Trinity is an agreeable and inspiring place in which to develop this culture of learning,” he wrote. “The community maintains and nurtures the space physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually.”
And as the story has continued, Diephouse’s own pervading passion for teaching literature has not digressed from his initial goal to inspire students to read literature. His desire has been for students to stretch their minds, to hear other people’s voices, and to learn to interact with others in more ways than intellectually. While his original teaching goal has remained the same, the professor said that over the years he has changed as an educator and as a Christian.
In the classroom, he has “mellowed.” He said he has sacrificed reaching a course goal for more time spent interacting with students “inside the literature.” In performing some interesting calculations as retirement approached, Diephouse was surprised to discover he had graded approximately 22,300 papers.
As a Christian, Diephouse said he has become more and more aware of the meaning of the phrase “being created in God’s image.”
“If God is creative, we’re creative; if God loves diversity, we are to love diversity,” he said. “I began to recognize the image of God in everybody, and that has made me more tolerant and accepting of others. Young people can have narrow ideas about relationships, and I have tried to broaden their outlook, because the image of God can not be narrowly defined.”
Diephouse said he will most miss the intellectual camaraderie with his students and has been blessed by knowing he has helped to positively influence their lives. Two letters from students moved him deeply and now sit framed on a table in his office.
“You don’t know in what ways you touch people. You do what you know how and trust the Holy Spirit to do the rest.”
President Steven Timmermans said, “Dr. Diephouse is the memorable kind of professor for whom every institution is grateful. In speaking with alumni about favorite professors, they invariably mention Dan Diephouse.”
The next chapter has begun, and the professor plans to spend time visiting his daughters and grandchildren, traveling with wife Dora, and pursuing his love of photography. He also plans on staying involved with the Trinity community and may teach a course this fall.
“As is typical with summer, I’m used to feeling free momentarily, but I’m not entirely, because I have another semester coming in the fall,” said Diephouse. “The school year has always established my routine, but now the one establishing my routine is me. That can be scary.”
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