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reed magazine logoJune 2010

Three Professors Granted Tenure

by David Frazee Johnson

In February, the board of trustees granted tenure to three members of the Reed faculty: Joel Franklin ’97 and Darrell Schroeter ’95, both in physics, and Luc Monnin in French.

“We’ve long been proud of offering what we truly believe to be the most serious and rigorous physics program in the country,” says Peter Steinberger, dean of the faculty. “Darrell and Joel—themselves products of our program—are brilliant teacher/scholars who will, without any doubt, help us maintain this very high standard for many years to come.”

“Luc Monnin is a masterful teacher and also a literary theorist of unusual breadth and erudition,” he adds. “His range of interests and knowledge is astonishing. He brings real intellectual distinction to the college, and students are crazy about his courses.”

Joel Franklin ’97

Joel Franklin

Ask how long he’s wanted to teach at Reed, and Joel Franklin answers immediately: “Since I was five years old.” His mother, Joan Garstens Franklin ’65, taught political science at Antioch and urged him to go to Reed. Perhaps urged is an understatement: “Instead of being a firefighter growing up, I always wanted to teach at Reed. When your mom goes to Reed, and teaches…needless to say I always wanted something like this. This is a dream job.”

After earning his BA from Reed, Joel earned a master’s degree from Brandeis and a PhD from Stanford. Following a post-doctoral position at MIT, specializing in field theory and computation, Joel returned to his Reed in 2005, having been recommended by colleague and classmate Darrell Schroeter ’95 (see below).

John Essick, chair of the physics department, is effusive in his praise. “Joel is an energetic, effective, popular teacher,” Essick says. “All of his courses have been well received by our students… The commitment and enthusiasm he brings to our departmental work has buoyed all.”

Given his first-hand experience with the rigors of the Reed curriculum, it is no surprise that Joel points to his work with students as the most enjoyable aspect of his position. “This is probably one of the few places where the job you wind up with is exactly what you think it’s going to be,” he says. “I try to engage the students, and I try to interact with them. I try make it a classroom where the students feel free to interact with me at all times.”

Physics major Jeremy Silver ’11 says Joel’s dedication yields dividends for his students. “Joel is my adviser as well as my quantum professor, and he has been absurdly adept at cramming giant amounts of physics into my head and making it stick. His style is particularly effective because of his energy and clarity at the blackboard, his enthusiasm for his subject, and his insistence on teaching via intuitive, underlying truth rather than pedantic mathematical progression.”

This spring, Joel will publish his first book, Advanced Mechanics: An Introduction to General Relativity, at Cambridge University Press. Asked what he envisions for himself in the next decade, he smiles. “It’s hard to say. Every single year I’ve been here, something unexpected, exciting, and different has happened, which I love.”

reed magazine logoJune 2010