1995 Metcalf Cup & Prize
Brian Jorgensen, CLA
Brian Jorgensen says that “the teacher seeks to enkindle in every student two loves: the love of learning and the love of truth. Neither is adequate without the other; no student is quite the same as any other. Some need quite a variety of matches, not to mention the occasional blowtorch.”
Dean Jorgensen, who administers the Core Curriculum of the College of Liberal Arts, says that he is proudest of being Professor Jorgensen. Students praise his mastery of the Core’s diverse materials, but note that he goes far beyond mastery: “I have learned,” one says, “from his example the modesty, integrity, and sincerity with which a teacher professes his subject.”
One student tells of first meeting Brian Jorgensen during orientation, when he lectured about the Core Curriculum: “In less than an hour, Professor Jorgensen had opened the eyes of a newly graduated high school student to the limits of reason—and he had given me the desire to pursue knowledge.”
Student letters about Professor Jorgensen abound in accounts of his virtuosity, whereby he can fill in for a missing professor with a brilliant impromptu lecture that connects the subject of the moment with materials that have been studied and will be studied in the course. They also tell of his dogged attention to the details: he keeps generous office hours that guarantee access, and he provides a page or more of typed comments even, as one student notes. “when the paper is an A.” Another student aptly sums him up: “In and out of the classroom, [Brian Jorgensen] pushes his students to see every challenge as an occasion for improvement, every revision as an opportunity to add ‘one more detail’, every punctuation, every word, every flip of the page as an avenue [by which] more clearly and ably to understand the truth, and refute the immoral.” This portrait describes the distinguished teaching the Metcalf Cup and Prize is intended to honor.