Features

Honoring our retiring faculty

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Norm Shoemaker

By Professor Karl Martin

Near the end of my sophomore year at Point Loma in 1979, I was selected to participate in a summer ministry program called Youth in Mission. The program was much like the LoveWorks program now available to students. In those days, the program was run by the Church of the Nazarene for all of the Nazarene colleges in the United States and Canada. I was placed with three students from three other Nazarene colleges in the inner-city of Buffalo, New York, to help the local Nazarene church reach out to children in the neighborhoods surrounding the church. That summer ministry provided me with one of the most formative experiences of my life. I didn’t know it at the time, but one of the people responsible for my selection was Norm Shoemaker. In the decades since, Norm has been instrumental in providing similar experiences for hundreds, if not thousands, of students just like me. He has also been responsible for enriching the lives of women and men engaged in pastoral ministry with programs that have given them the opportunity for further study and engagement with Christian thinkers and writers.

If I might be so bold as to speak for the hundreds of people who have been formed by the experiences Norm has made available for us—and the thousands who have been touched by the ministry of those placed in those programs—I would say a huge thank you to Norm for a career so well spent in ministry. Whether he has been the pastor of a local church (as he was at San Diego First Church of the Nazarene when my wife and I came to San Diego and joined his congregation in 1998) or working for the university, Norm has faithfully lived out his call to ministry. On the occasion of his retirement from Point Loma, we can now say what Norm will hear his Master say at the judgment: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” We will miss him greatly. But we have the pattern of his faithful service as a model for our own discipleship to the Lord and Savior we know Norm confesses and has served so well.

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Darrel Falk

By Senior Eduardo Alvarez

I approached Dr. Falk after class my freshman year, after a lecture where we discussed evolution and the conservation of DNA among different species. I explained to him that in high school my faith was shaken when I began to study evolution and the further I dove into studying the relationship between humans and primates, the more my faith began to crumble. In our conversation, Dr. Falk shared his wisdom, his passion for biology and the study of human origins, and his love for God. It was one of the first instances when I recognized I was meant to be studying biology at PLNU.

Dr. Falk has been a professor of biology at PLNU since 1988. Before PLNU, Dr. Falk’s research focused on Drosophila molecular and developmental genetics with funding from the National Institute of Health and the National Science Foundation. Most recently, he authored the book, Coming to Peace with Science: Bridging the Worlds Between Faith and Biology. In his book, Dr. Falk describes his academic and spiritual journey in reconciling Christian belief with biological evolution. This dialogue is particularly important these days as it seeks to start a conversation concerning the role of evolution in relation to our Christian faith, an issue I’ve chosen to struggle with.

I’ve come full circle with Dr. Falk. In my last semester at PLNU, I’m taking his course entitled Human Evolution where we further explore the origins of humans within a Christian context. The issue of human origins is not easy, but Dr. Falk has eloquently spoken about the miraculous nature of Christ and the processes by which He works in. I am privileged to have known Dr. Falk these past few years. He as been a gentle, humble and gracious friend who has helped me and countless students and professors develop their own understanding of science and faith.

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Michael McConnell

By Senior Nathan Keys

I first met Dr. McConnell when I took Molecular Biology during my sophomore year. It was perhaps one of the most challenging courses I’ve taken in the biology department, but nonetheless I found it extremely interesting and rewarding. Soon enough I found myself signing up for Advanced Biochemistry that next semester and later on I had the amazing privilege to research with him in the summer.

Dr. McConnell has been a part of the PLNU biology department for many years and has even served as the department chair, so my respect for him is very great. Whenever I go into the science building, I often see Dr. McConnell in one of the labs working on his research or with his students in their class labs. He really enjoys what he does and puts so much time and effort into it and that is something I really admire about him. It was very fulfilling during summer research to be able to help him out with his research and take some of the work off his shoulders.

One of the most important things I learned through my time researching with him was to be patient with the little details and not cut corners when working on tedious procedures – something that I believe will help me a lot as I continue to pursue a career in biology research.

Other things I appreciate about Dr. McConnell are his sense of humor, his love of coffee, his generosity in offering students free snacks and his willingness to open his house for some really awesome end-of-the-year parties.

All in all, Dr. McConnell has been one of PLNU’s greatest biology professors and will definitely leave some big shoes to fill.

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