Augsburg colleagues use many words to describe the significance of the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR): creation, innovation, and inspiration, to cite just a few. When Larry and Cheryl ’89 Crockett talk about the CSBR, however, they can boil its relevance and promise down to just one: conversation.
Conversation has been significant to Larry since age 15, when he got lost riding his motorcycle past rows of abandoned munitions factories in Japan, where his military family was stationed. He didn’t panic. Instead, he had conversations “with papa-sans who had seen the flash” of nuclear war. Those encounters helped launch his lifelong passion for crossing boundaries, both academic and cultural.
Temporary “brush up” becomes permanent appointment
When he arrived at Augsburg to spend “a year or two” brushing up on computer science while his advisor took a sabbatical, his conversations with the dean about splitting his appointment to accommodate his science and religion interests convinced him to stay. Almost three decades later, the professor of computer science and philosophy teaches honors classes, writes books, and cares deeply about Augsburg’s future.
His conversations with colleagues and students about the CSBR—an idea that first struck him as perhaps “odd, conceptually incoherent”—have prompted his unbounded support. He describes watching students go from initial puzzlement to unabashed excitement about the project, and he speaks fondly of meeting with disparate colleagues, from physicists to business profs to administrators, to discuss the details.
“We’ve had the most extraordinary conversations I’ve ever had here. It really whetted my enthusiasm,” he says. “The dialogue between people who seem to be from different backgrounds is so rich.”
Promoting integrated learning for life
He is reminded of team-teaching courses that cross traditional academic lines. “It has been an amazing sojourn to discover the level of integration possible,” he says. Whether they major in science, business, or religion, today’s students must solve complex problems in a multinational world where those disciplines intersect.
The CSBR, far from being a cockeyed idea, will expand that global perspective and attract students who embrace it, he adds. Such forward thinking is crucial. “Academic structures become stale as the world changes, and smaller liberal arts schools are at some considerable risk. If they don’t adapt imaginatively, they will have an unhappy future,” he says.
Encouraging giving and sustaining momentum
Larry and his wife, Cheryl ’89, have known for a long time that they wanted to include Augsburg in their “final plans” and were delighted to discover that their planned gift could be contributed toward the CSBR. Their $50,000 estate gift will name a computer science faculty office.
”The CSBR can be a location for cross-pollination in three important areas that in today’s society always seem to bump up against each other,” Cheryl says. “I see it as a beacon of light shining on common ground, showing pragmatic ways in which to negotiate differences.”
Once a nontraditional student, Cheryl knows about negotiating differences. She completed her English degree while raising toddlers, both of whom eventually earned Augsburg degrees. Now a writer and editor who volunteers at the alumni office, she is “having an absolute blast” helping her alma mater and cheering its progress as CSBR plans unfold.
“We are already on track in so many areas,” she says. “This is what’s needed not only in today’s society but also in tomorrow’s.”
Despite her long association with Augsburg, she adds, she can’t remember seeing so much momentum and enthusiasm. She believes the CSBR will attract students seeking a broader worldview, and she applauds the creative tension it will generate.
“Something good comes from that creative tension,” she says. “It’s all about the conversation. And when the building gets finished, just think about all the conversations that can take place within that setting.”