May 2010 A-News

FleddermannNo Rest for Harry…

Energetic, insightful, good-natured, and beloved professor, Harry Fleddermann is retiring after 25 years of teaching at Alverno. Whether you had Harry for a class in his specialty, religious studies, or another class in the humanities, you remember Harry. If you didn't take a class with Harry, you have now officially lost your chance.

Reflecting on his time at Alverno, Harry had many thoughts to share. Alverno was not his first time teaching at a single-sex institution. He spent three years teaching at an all boys high school. He found that he preferred teaching at single-sex institutions because he noticed it was easier to get students to level with him and that students were more willing to open up. Harry was not fazed in the least when it came to teaching a room full of women. He said he immediately found teaching at Alverno, “Amazing...just wonderful,” and that he “felt at home.”

Students felt at home with Harry too. His first semester at Alverno, he taught a freshman humanities class. After reading a literary piece students had to respond with a paragraph on their own self-image. One student, a 28-year-old divorced mother of three, shared about the birth of her first daughter. She marveled that she couldn't balance a checkbook, but could produce a perfect child. She then went on to share about the wonders of breastfeeding. We have left him with many memories.

What Harry has enjoyed the most and will miss the most are the students. He loves working with them in a collaborative classroom environment. Harry remarked, “The classroom is a unique environment that you won't find outside of academia.” He loves the conversation, that people come together to discuss something that's important. Harry thinks the humanities are a great fit for those discussions because they relate to something central to human life. Classroom conversations reach above the coffee shop level and “sparks fly”. Those sparks are insights that open up a new level of reality for students and he comments, “That's just magic”.

Harry told a story of one student in Weekend College who was sharing with the class about having breakthrough insights. The experience of those insights made her want to have them again and again. She said the only thing she could compare that desire to was sex. The class roared. 

Retirement will be no quiet walk into the sunset for Harry. He has plans. So far there are three major goals. The first is to begin his second career -- writing. He is working on a book titled, The Journey to the Cross: A Study in Biblical Symbolism. The first half of the book asks and then answers what symbols are and how they function in human life. The second half investigates the universal symbol of the journey and the Christian symbol of the cross and their connection in scripture. When he needs a break from writing on symbolism he will work on another book titled, The Doublets in the Synoptic Gospels

Travel is his next goal. This fall he will travel to Spain for three weeks to take in the paintings, architecture, and history of the country, with more travel planned for the future. Harry's third goal involves the maintenance of languages. Currently he is working on Spanish in anticipation of his September excursion. He also plans to bone up on Hebrew, Coptic, Greek, French, and German. Moss will not be growing under Harry Fleddermann.

Article by Jeri Vatne ’09