Fridays at Four started a decade ago as a forum for faculty to share and listen to each other’s research. Twice a term, a professor presents their research or creative work to the primarily Knox faculty-based audience on a Friday at 4 p.m. Penny Gold, Professor of History and Co-Chair of Religious Studies and former Coordinator of Faculty Development not only started Fridays at Four, but organized it for 10 years as well.
This year, Diana Beck, Professor of Educational Studies, took up the position as coordinator of Fridays at Four. Having attended the Fridays at Four seminars since their establishment 10 years ago, Beck enthusiastically believes that, “it’s a nice occasion for faculty to get together and, in a sense, celebrate each other’s accomplishments and projects.”
The Faculty Development program enabled Knox faculty to discuss teaching, research and creative work with each other, as a majority of a professor’s life is predominantly independent. While this allows for “individual initiative and autonomy, which is great,” Gold also noted that, “we’re not in office suites together where there’s a lot of opportunity for casual conversation about how to do [this or that].” Fridays at Four started out of a desire among the faculty for a “regular series in which [they] could present their research,” Gold said.
Gold explained that Fridays at Four “is a collegial activity to find out what other people are doing, even if it’s a field about which you know nothing and wouldn’t otherwise go.” It also helps professors continue to learn beyond what they are researching. While some professors use Fridays at Four as an opportunity to showcase their current project, Beck observed that “some people use it as a way to help them get organized to present to the work to a larger audience outside of Knox.”
Its success has been due to the inter-disciplinary nature of the Knox faculty’s closely-knit community. Professors with diverse areas of interest attend these seminars. For example, the audience members for a Fridays at Four from a physics professor will not only consist of members of the science department, but of those from the arts and humanities as well. Gold hopes that the Fridays at Four seminars continue to maintain a sense of community among the faculty. She added, “if [there was] a visiting speaker with a talk of the same title, [it is] highly unlikely that I would go. You’re going because the people are your colleagues.”
It is this supportive, collegial atmosphere among the faculty community on campus that is, and will continue to be, a guiding force behind the success of Fridays at Four.