Emeritus Academy: School of deep roots, new growth
Through this program, retired faculty continue their research and share findings with respected peers and the Buckeye community.
Why would a retired English professor come together with a retired geologist to hear about smog? The answer, says Professor Emeritus Terry Miller, gets to the heart of why a research university exists — “inquiry, discovery and, at the same time, the dissemination of that knowledge.”
Miller is one of the founders of Ohio State’s Emeritus Academy, which began in 2014 to recognize and promote the research and creative activity of retired faculty. Academy members receive financial support for ongoing work and participate in a monthly lecture series to share outcomes and hear feedback from their peers.
While membership in the academy is selective, its lectures are open to all, says Philip T.K. Daniel, professor emeritus of educational studies and chair of the academy.
“You also ask yourself, why should I quit? Why would I want to just stop and walk away from that?” he says.
The smog presentation was Miller’s. An Ohio Eminent Scholar professor emeritus specializing in physical chemistry, he shared his work on the spectroscopic analysis of molecules — that is, what he and his team learned in their study of how matter reacts with light.
You’d be hard pressed to find a topic more relevant to daily life, as the molecules Miller studies are in the air we breathe. Understanding those tiny structures means getting a better grasp on how pollution from vehicles interacts with air and how we can clean up the invisible mess.
Because academy members reflect the breadth and depth of Ohio State scholarship, reading the list of lecture topics is like skimming an encyclopedia.
One lecture Miller found fascinating involved the “brain in your gut” and how goings-on in our intestinal tracts have an unexpected impact on the way our minds work. Other presenters have highlighted research on subjects as diverse as insect survival in Antarctica, redistricting reform and the future of NASA. Daniel spoke about his work on a Supreme Court case with free speech implications.
To join this collective of almost 200 scholars, professors emeriti must apply and undergo a review of their work. To maintain their membership, they must reapply every five years.
Daniel says Emeritus Academy gives retired faculty the opportunity to pursue the passions that drove their careers, adding, “You also ask yourself, why should I quit? Why would I want to just stop and walk away from that?”
Tap into the knowledge
Emeritus Academy scholars present their work for anyone who wants to listen in. The free lectures are held throughout the academic year at 4 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month at Longaberger Alumni House and via Zoom.