For 30 years, Neil remained a key component of the CUE community. As an English professor, Neil shared with students his love of literature. He served as Marshall at numerous CUE Convocations and was instrumental in the creation of the CUE 100 history book. Neil has a wealth of information about CUE’s history. Serving as Dean of Arts for many years, Neil led CUE’s largest faculty. Thank you for everything, Neil.
Barbara van Ingen
Neil and I have been colleagues for over 30 years, and if I were to give a concise statement about him, I would say that Neil is a man who says “YES.” During his years at Concordia, he has done just about every job he has been asked to perform: he has been an inspiring instructor, a steady department chairman, and a fair-minded and principled Dean of Arts. He has served on just about every committee and has brought a considerable set of talents to those commitments. He has done all this while remaining the best of colleagues. He is a man who says “YES” to life.
Neil’s greatest impact has been on his students. The hardest work an English professor has to do is teach first year English. This is something that Neil excelled at: he understood how the minds of his students worked, knowing their weaknesses and complimenting their strengths. He did all this while inculcating a love of literature in a select few who would go on to take every course he taught. Truly great profs have this effect on their students, and Neil was a master of the classroom. In the years to come, our students will tell anecdotes to their children and grandchildren about this wonderful English professor they had at Concordia, a professor who taught them to love literature. That is how a professor lives on.
I would like to cite two anecdotes, one from jazz and one from baseball, two great passions of mine, that will give some sense of how I view Neil. Someone once asked how it was that Duke Ellington wrote such consistently brilliant music. The answer was, “Well it helps to be a musical genius.” The other anecdote from baseball goes like this: Ted Williams was one of the greatest hitters baseball had ever seen. Once when Williams returned to the dugout after driving in yet more runs, his manager, someone who rarely complimented his players, said to him “If I could hit like you I would play for free.”
Concordia gained an important asset when they hired Neil, a man who always did his job well, a man who always said “YES.”