Eastern says good-bye to half of its poli-sci faculty

This is the last semester for political science professor Paul Brink. He is leaving to teach political science and comparative politics at Gordon College, Massachusetts, in the fall. Brink has been teaching political science at Eastern University for five years.

One of his main reasons for the Brinks’ move is the timing.

“We thought if we wanted to move, we need to move now when our children are much younger,” he said.

There are other reasons as well, including research opportunities at Gordon.

“I guess the thing to emphasize is that it’s not as though I went to Gordon because I was terribly unhappy in particular with the political science department here,” Brink said. “It has been on an upward trajectory for some time, so the number of students, the quality of students have been improving.”

Faculty have said that Brink will be missed.

“On a professional level, I think Paul Brink is a very important voice to Eastern,” said Julie Elliott, director of INST 150 and Christian ethics professor. “He’s a particularly thoughtful scholar, a good teacher and a good colleague.”

Brink and Elliot teach a capstone course together, Christian Faith and the Political Order, and Elliot is friends with both Brink and his wife, Jennifer, who teaches INST 150.

There are practical reasons for the move as well.

Kathy Lee, chair of the Political Science Department, pointed out that Eastern stands in danger of losing its younger faculty to better opportunities elsewhere.

“We’re required to do more research, publication,” Lee said. “[The] teaching load remains the same, which is four courses per semester. That’s the normal mode; that isn’t the mode at other places.”

Pay is also better at other universities, Lee said, which she thinks might also be a factor in younger professors leaving Eastern.

Brink is popular among students as well as faculty. Admiring students formed a “Brinkism Group” on Facebook, which features quotes from his classes.

“It’s a good opportunity for Dr. Brink,” senior Sara Anderson said. Anderson is a political science major who has worked as a TA in Brink’s government class. “When you’re presented with a great opportunity you have to take it.”

While Brink is looking forward to Gordon, he said he will miss Eastern.

“It’s very bittersweet,” Brink said. “I’m excited by the new possibilities at Gordon. It’s a strong department of political science. I’m very appreciative of Kathy Lee, and she and I have worked very well together. I strongly affirm Eastern’s commitment to integration of faith and learning.”

“He’s been a great colleague,” Lee said. “We did a two-year search to find him and I felt very fortunate that we had him.”

The Brinks will be leaving in the summer to take time to settle in.

“[It’s] a hard thing,” Lee said. “I will miss him, as will the students, very very much.”

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