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reed magazine logoJune 2010

Three Professors Granted Tenure Continued

Luc Monnin

Luc Monnin

Born and educated in Geneva, Luc Monnin first came to the United States as an exchange student at Johns Hopkins University, where he earned his doctorate.

A specialist in 18th century French literature, Monnin says working with students is the highlight of his job. “The Reed educational model is one of the best you can find,” he says. “Reed students are amazing in the fact that they dedicate themselves to learning whatever you provide them with,” he says. “They want to study French poetry of the 16th century, and you never have to justify why.”

Ann Delehanty, chair of the French department, says Monnin’s arrival has been a boon for students and faculty alike. “In the French department, we very much appreciate the depth of knowledge that Luc brings to his teaching and scholarship,” she says. “He has an encyclopedic knowledge of French literature and his passion for the history of ideas is profound. He is an extremely devoted teacher who develops his own materials for his language classes, loves teaching language and literature, and always finds time to discuss ideas with students and his fellow professors. We think of Luc as the quintessential Reed professor whose devotion to teaching overlaps all areas of his scholarship.”

Jennifer Smith ’05, a recent thesis student of Monnin’s, testifies to the effort he puts into his partnerships with his students. “I wrote my thesis on the Arthurian romances of 12th century French poet Chrétien de Troyes,” she recalls. “Luc did not have a background in this period, but he went out of his way to direct me toward sources and help me focus my ideas in a way that I believe few others would be able or willing to do.” Because her thesis was written entirely in French, she relied upon Monnin’s language, as well as literary, expertise. “As a result, I think my French improved as much in that year as it did during the year I spent living in France,” she says. “Working with Luc was the most intellectually rewarding experience I have ever had.”

Monnin employs an unusual technique to stay fresh as a teacher: he destroys his class notes at the end of each semester. “What is necessary when you teach is that you renew your interest every year,” he says. “In order to do that, every time I finish a class, I scratch my notes and throw them in the garbage, to renew what I’m doing, to remain new.”

Darrell Schroeter ’95

Darrell Schroeter

After earning his doctorate from Stanford in 2002, condensed matter theorist Darrell Schroeter found that change is the only constant in academia. After Stanford, he took a visiting position at Swarthmore, followed by one at Reed. When that position expired, he headed to Occidental, only to return to Reed two years later. “I think in six years I moved six different times,” he says. “Needless to say I’m happy to be here.”

Physics chair John Essick says the search committee was delighted by Darrell’s ability to maintain the department’s strong theoretical tradition. “All of Darrell’s courses have been excellent and well received by our students,” Essick says. “Darrell brings a high level of professionalism to his teaching.”

One of Darrell’s thesis students, Kassi Dallavis ’08, notes that his strength as a mentor extends beyond physics. “When a student looks for an adviser, they have a lot of qualities in mind. They want someone who is available for questions, someone who doesn’t condescend, and someone whose work habits complement their own. In Darrell, I had all of these—and more,” she says. “It is because Darrell was my freshman year physics professor that I continued in physics. His excitement as a scientist was very clear in his lectures and our conversations since. My experience at Reed would have been much less fulfilling had I not worked with Darrell.”

Darrell cites Kassi’s thesis project as an example of one of his favorite aspects of Reed: working closely with students on original works of research. “Kassi took a simple toy, called a chatter ring, which has lots of great physics involved with it. She wrote her thesis about it, and built a machine that could rotate it as we used a high-speed camera to figure out the orientation, and do a tremendous amount of analytical work on that. It was fascinating physics, and a lot of fun.”

Darrell knew he wanted to return to Reed almost as soon as he went to graduate school. “After being in a research university setting, I realized really fast that the Reed environment made me happy to be part of it, which in turn made me more productive as a researcher,” he says.

Darrell’s dedication to his craft, Essick says, has inspired his students. “Everything in each course … is there for a sound pedagogical reason and he is good at ‘selling’ his demanding instructional program to students. Reed students are challenged in Darrell’s courses and they work very hard for him.”

Darrell has teamed up with Joel to teach a course on scientific computation. Outside the walls of the physics building, the two classmates are also teammates on the legendary physics softball team that plays every year at Renn Fayre.

Darrell says returning to Reed was a perfect move for him. “It’s fun to be an alum and to teach here, because you an appreciate the idiosyncrasies and quirks of a place. You have a personal investment in the school—coming back as an alum, you realize how much you love this place.”

reed magazine logoJune 2010