Astronomy Professor at Eastern
Astronomy professor David Bradstreet was teaching at Eastern University when it was called Eastern Baptist College, in 1976.
Bradstreet has dedicated 39 years to the astronomy department. In 1976, his classroom was the first to have an overhead projector, and Eastern only had two laserjet printers.
“It was a nightmare,” Bradstreet claims about when he had to roll his $200 computer to the printer. The abundance of computers on campus today was not accessible 39 years ago, and Bradstreet had to buy his own computer. Thus, one of the advancements from 1976 has been the quantity of technology that Eastern can provide students. Another improvement that Eastern has made since then includes the quality of the faculty. The demand of the professors has changed over the years because Eastern strives to hire “people who are not just good teachers and love the Lord, but people who are well-known in their fields and respected outside of the school,” says Bradstreet. Thus, Eastern’s teachers are here for the students, not for profitable gain. The credibility of Eastern has developed since professors have followed the call to enhance Eastern’s reputation, a duty that takes years.
Teaching astronomy at Eastern for numerous years has not been a lighthearted decision, and he is here because God wants him here. This semester, Bradstreet is teaching a course called Exploration of the Universe, and it is about stars, galaxies, black holes, and the formation of the universe. Bradstreet has high standards for his students. The primary standards include knowing the information beyond memorization and incorporating new information with previous knowledge. The course is going well thus far, and his students are motivated to learn more about science. Bradstreet enjoys teaching this course because he has the opportunity to get “people to see things they have never seen before,” he says. Bradstreet uses creative techniques to pique the interest of students, such as telling funny stories and moving around the classroom. In his teaching, Bradstreet also connects Christianity to science, so students can learn how God is present in science, not separate from it.
Bradstreet’s experience at Eastern has been challenging and uplifting. In the beginning of his teaching career, it was difficult because of his low salary and the lack of facilities for his work. One problem that is still being addressed is the enhancement of Eastern’s facilities. Bradstreet waited 30 years to have the proper resources for the observatory and the planetarium, but he believes that Eastern needs more advancement in facilities for the music department and performing arts department and the gymnasium. He thinks that “the president is trying very hard to fix that problem with the major campaigns.” Thus, Bradstreet perceives if people support the first phase of Eastern’s Master Plan, then the second phase should happen. The second main issue Eastern has had since 1976 is advertising Eastern nationally and internationally.
“We have great people and great programs, but nobody knows about them,” says Bradstreet.
The first experience Bradstreet had at Eastern was as an undergraduate student from 1972 through 1976. He also met his wife here, and they both finished the same year and got married after graduation. Bradstreet began teaching part-time in 1976, and he became a full-time professor in 1983. The reasons why Bradstreet has stayed at Eastern so long are because of the people and his commitment to Christian higher education.
“I really love what I do; more than two-thirds of my life has been at this school,” says Bradstreet.