Carpenter to retire in spring 2016


Photo courtesy Bluffton University Public Relations

By Kasey Myers

At the end of spring semester, Bluffton will say goodbye to one of its most passionate professors. Susan Carpenter,
associate professor of English, will retire after her 10 years at Bluffton.

Carpenter began teaching at Bluffton in 2005.

“I applied for 56 jobs that year, and Bluffton was the one that had room for me,” Carpenter said. “[They] brought me up here, we had an interview. It went really well. I didn’t know what I thought for sure. I just knew I had to stop myself from hugging them all after the interview because that would have been really inappropriate.”

“I think this may be the best job I’ve ever had, and I’ve had lots of jobs,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter has worked in a variety of positions over the years. From directing a small home healthcare agency, to teaching in alternative schools, producing a radio talk show, to directing the Antioch writers workshop and working with federal government poverty-solving programs in Green and Montgomery counties, Carpenter was a classic “jill of all trades” in her time before Bluffton.

“Students have been coming to me for years saying, ‘What do you do with an English major?’ and the answer is, anything you want. That’s the beauty of it. You can go get a lousy job and write about it and sell your writing,” said Carpenter.

“My career path was tied to writing the whole way,” Carpenter explained. “What happened with all of those jobs is that people discovered I could write. If you can write in a job, you are doing what other people don’t want to do, so you get promoted.”

She has taught a variety of courses on campus, spanning from English 110 and 120 to advanced literature courses. But Carpenter prefers to teach classes with students who, “really want to be there.”

Carpenter acknowledges though, that her courses may not appeal to everyone. “I mean, I’m not good for every student….My favorite comment in RateMyProfessor was, and I haven’t gone back to it since because it was so perfect, it was, ‘this woman is completely crazy.’ ”

Carpenter will be teaching her last two courses here at Bluffton next semester. One on African American Literature and another on fairytales.

“One reason I’m leaving right now is that I have to write full time,” Carpenter said. “I can’t do it part time. It’s not working. Besides, I’m having grandchildren. Alongside of being sad that it’s time to leave, I just know that it is.”

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