Cura Personalis: Arthur Sutherland, Ph.D.
June 14, 2016
In March 2016, the University selected Arthur Sutherland, Ph.D., associate professor of theology, as class dean for the Class of 2020. The class dean is a faculty member who serves as a resource and mentor for all of the undergraduate students in the same class year. The class dean is in addition to an academic advisor and Messina advisor for a student’s first few semesters.
Loyola magazine interviewed Sutherland to see what his hopes for his new positions are, when he knew Loyola was his home, and a fun fact his students don’t know about him.
Although originally from Washington, D.C. Sutherland is “awfully partial” to Texas and Connecticut.
Explain your role as class dean of 2020.
The class dean is a faculty member who serves as an intellectual leader of and focal point for all of the undergraduate students in the same class year. The dean is a shepherd, a puzzle master, an advocate, and a spur during a student’s four years at Loyola.
What are you most looking forward to in your role as class dean?
I am anticipating the excitement of seeing students create for themselves a series of imaginative events and exercises that help them learn how to make a living, but also what it means to learn how to live.
What do you hope to gain from being a class dean?
One theory of education says that there are only two types of questions in the academy: closed questions and open questions. Closed questions are when you are exploring and acquiring existing knowledge. Open questions are when you participating in building new knowledge. I will gain as a class dean when more students are taking advantage of Loyola’s exceptional opportunities to do both.
Your class–2020–will making Loyola their new home. When did you know that Loyola would be your home?
In the spring of 1998, I was in Europe doing research on Karl Barth – the great Swiss theologian. I used a phone booth in Paris to speak with Steve Fowl, Ph.D., theology department chair, here at Loyola. He offered me a position as a dissertation year fellow. I remember this because it was the last time I was in Paris, and the last time I have had the chance to use a phone booth. On the bright side, I now get to speak to Steve Fowl, a remarkable theologian in his own right, as often as I want.
How do you plan to weave Loyola’s Jesuit values into your work as class dean?
I want to promote types of intellectual insights, moral behaviors, and responsible actions that arise from Jesus’ prophetic critique of people at their worst and communities at their best.
What’s something your students don’t know about you?
I won a BBQ championship here in Maryland that led to a feature article about me in a Finnish magazine.
What is your academic field and why did you choose it?
My interest is in the intersection of systematic theology with biblical portraits of hospitality, patience, and generosity.