Bren Tooley is the Director of the Stellyes Center for Global Studies
Q: What do you find rewarding about your work?
I really care about internationalization. I think we need to know more than many people who live in the U.S. do about what’s happening around the world. All that I do is really meant to support students and faculty in better understanding our world.
Q: Is there a book, TV show, or movie that you’ve enjoyed recently?
We’re in the third season of “The Good Place,” which has been really fun to experience. I’m reading “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt and I’m enjoying that. I read it before, ages ago, and I read it much too fast. It’s really good to go back and read it.
Q: What was your time in college like for you?
I blew through my undergraduate experience in two and a half years. I went immediately on to grad school at Notre Dame. I’m an English PhD. It was the time of critical theory, and so just reading all kinds of theory, and finding out that the questions that I wanted to ask about why do we read what we read, how do we make meaning …. I just soaked it up. I was like a sponge.
Q: Do you have a favorite place locally?
We often go to the Mississippi just to watch the sun go down. We saw an eagle recently, even though there aren’t very many this season so far because there’s no ice on the river.
Q: Do you have a favorite thing about Knox in general?
One would be just how curious and kind of gentle about the world students can be. Sharp, intense, very smart, all of that. But also there are just these moments of kind of wonder or just — I keep wanting to say gentleness with each other.
I’ve found so many students who’ve made just extraordinary opportunities out of their education. Just really finding ways to explore the world.. and I help students find money to do it. It’s their enterprise though, and their creativity, and their curiosity about the world that really makes that happen.
This interview has been edited for length.