Dr. Gretchen Buggeln of Christ College was appointed to the Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair in Christianity and the Arts by Valparaiso University President Mark Heckler in September 2009.
The endowed Duesenberg Chair was established in 2000 to promote teaching, research, and scholarship on the historical and contemporary relationships between Christian faith and the arts. The Duesenberg chairholder is an established scholar of demonstrated national reputation. Besides scholarship and teaching, the duties of the Chair include enhancing the intellectual and artistic life of Valparaiso University through public presentations and programs designed to make the campus a stimulating meeting place of scholars, artists, educators, and students. Buggeln is the second occupant of the Duesenberg Chair, succeeding David Morgan.
Buggeln’s publications have earned widespread praise from many of the leading figures in American religion and art, especially for her work on the architectural history of American churches. Her book Temples of Grace: The Transformation of Connecticut’s Churches, 1790-1840, received the 2005 Cummings Prize from the Vernacular Architecture Forum.
Buggeln has also published numerous articles on the arts and religion in both scholarly and popular journals. She writes extensively on museums and museum culture, especially the presentation and interpretation of religion in a museum context. In May 2009 she presented a paper on museums and religion at a major international conference of art and museum scholars in Luxembourg.
Buggeln’s current book project, entitled "Churches for Today: Modernism and Suburban Expansion in Post-WWII America,” includes an examination of Charles Stade, and one of the leading postwar church architects and the principal designer of architect of Valparaiso’s Chapel of the Resurrection. Buggeln was the featured speaker at a Christ College Symposium on September 24, 2009, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the Chapel.
Buggeln earned her BA in history from Dartmouth College, her MA from the University of Delaware, and the PhD in American Studies from Yale University. She taught at Miami University of Ohio before joining the Winterthur Museum/University of Delaware Program in Early American Culture, where taught and directed a research fellowship program.
Since coming to Valparaiso in 2004, Buggeln has been a highly popular teacher in courses such as “Word and Image,” “The American Home,” “Museum History and Culture, “ and “Object, Ritual, Discourse.” Buggeln has also played an active role as an advisor to Valparaiso’s Brauer Museum, and in supporting arts speakers and exhibits on campus.
An interdisciplinary scholar of the humanities, Olmsted has published and lectured on a wide range of subjects, including Dostoevsky, Flaubert, Freud, Monet, and Derrida. Most of his work has centered on nineteenth century French literature and art, especially the poetry of Charles Baudelaire, and has appeared in Nineteenth Century French Studies, Romanic Review, Modern Philology, the Cresset, and other journals. He has also translated texts by Roland Barthes, Paul Ricoeur, and Andrew Bareau.
A valued teacher throughout his career in Christ College, Bill Olmsted taught an extensive array of courses. Among his popular courses were Masterpieces of Literature, Common Readings, Word and Image, Tutorial Studies, Value and Judgment, Interpretation in the Humanities, and Senior Honors Seminar (later Colloquium). Among his many seminars have been The Greek Experience, Literary Modernism, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, Revolutions of 1848, Early Modernism in Art and Literature, Dostoevsky’s World, Poe and Baudelaire, and Inventing the Body. He received the Teaching Excellence Award from Alpha Lambda Delta at Valparaiso University in 1996.
Olmsted earned his B.A. from the University of Michigan, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the Committee on Social Thought of the University of Chicago. He was one of the early Christ College faculty appointed by founding dean Richard Baepler.
Professor Mark Schwehn is a scholar, an educational leader, a former CC dean, and a speaker in wide demand across the country. But when it comes to his essential vocation, there is no doubt what comes first and foremost: teaching. That Professor Schwehn is an extraordinary teacher was recognized and celebrated when he received the 2007 Distinguished Teaching Award, presented annually by the Valparaiso University Alumni Association.
Schwehn was nominated for the award by alumni from across his more than 20 years at Valpo, as well as by five CC students enrolled in his seminar, “What Makes a Life Significant?” In their letter of nomination, the students wrote, “Vital to Professor Schwehn’s gift for teaching is his ability to affect every facet of his students’ lives. By relating texts and discussion topics to real-life situations, he makes class an opportunity not only to develop intellectually, but also a time to develop spiritually and personally.”
Mark Schwehn’s influential scholarship regularly addresses issues of teaching and learning. Exiles from Eden: Religion and the Academic Vocation in America has attained wide influence by showing how the virtues of teaching and learning are central to academic life. He edited and contributed to Everyone a Teacher and co-edited (with his wife Dorothy Bass) Leading Lives That Matter: What We Should Do and Who We Should Be—a volume that developed in part through conversations with his CC students.
Says Schwehn: “Teaching is at the very heart of what I do. Especially for those of us who regard academic life as a Christian vocation, teaching lies at the center of our work, whether it is in the classroom, or in mentoring students, or in publication and public presentation.”