McFadden set to retire after more than two decades at BVU


Tanner Jensen, Contributing Writer

After more than 20 years of teaching at Buena Vista University, Dr. James McFadden will be retiring at the end of the spring semester, citing health issues and a desire for rest.

Hired in 1996, Dr. McFadden has served as a professor of English language, grammar, and writing. His decision to come to BVU was prompted by a preference for the student-centered faculty, turning down offers in Atlanta and Boston.

“I recognized I could bring systems here that would help the students,” McFadden said.

According to McFadden, his decision to retire was prompted mainly by his declining health.

“My life has slowed, my pace has slowed,” he said.

Permanently disabled in an accident several decades ago, McFadden has found it increasingly difficult to maneuver around campus in recent years, limiting his involvement.

His disability and accompanying arthritis has also made it increasingly difficult to perform his responsibilities as an instructor, especially those beyond his office and his classroom. Previously easy work has begun to take more time to complete, making it difficult to stay up to date on a day-to-day basis, according to McFadden.

McFadden’s career has been one of changing times. Even as his own involvement became limited, he witnessed several changes brought about by an innovative and student-focused institution. Chief among these changes has been the popularization of personal computers, a big change from the days of crowded computer labs that McFadden remembers students relying on.

Fellow faculty members have commented on his positive attitude and hard work over his career.

“It mattered to him that I was happy,” said Professor of English Dr. Annamaria Formichella-Elsden, remarking on the support McFadden showed her when she began working at BVU.

Students have likewise remarked on his positive attitude and openness to talking.

McFadden hopes that his retirement will give him the opportunity to rest and recuperate, hopefully allowing him to return to the work he loves. He states that he would like to become more involved in his community, returning to his roots in social work and community outreach.

He hopes to be able to take up writing again, returning to his interest in research of literary history. He also has tentative plans to publish a personal collection of poetry, though he jokingly adds that “bad poetry doesn’t usually go very far.”

He and his wife are considering moving somewhere warmer, moving closer to family and remedying the unfortunate situation of having “hardly left the region in 20 years.”

McFadden has struggled with extended travel since his accident.

“As a disabled person, I’m going to try to reclaim [my] access to the world,” he said.

McFadden states that he would like to continue to be a source of support for BVU students and faculty as he is able to.

“I love BVU and I’ll miss it. I’ll miss the faculty and I’ll miss the collegiality. I’ll miss the students,” McFadden said.