Lessons in Denison

issue 04 | winter 2016
UnCommon Ground - Lessons in Denison

In May, Don Bonar and Tod Frolking, two longtime and beloved Denison professors, retired after a combined 82 years at the College. Their time at Denison has been rich—full of advising, mentoring, and challenging students while furthering their own research in the respective areas of math & computer science and geosciences. In all those years of teaching, what are they taking away from their home on the Hill?

When you think of Denison, what’s the first word that comes to mind?

TF: As a physical geographer, I of course think about the lovely setting with the campus perched on the most westward ridge of the Allegheny Plateau. If I think about the people who make Denison tick—faculty, administration, and staff, I think of the word “committed” … honestly committed to creating a welcoming and intellectually rich community for students.

Do you have a favorite building on campus? What is it?

DB: Swasey Chapel. When I interviewed for my job in 1965, it took place in the faculty lounge on the third floor of Slayter. From there, I had a wonderful view of Beth Eden (the president’s home in earlier years), Swasey Chapel, the Academic Quad, and other parts of the campus.

What will you miss most about Denison?

DB: I will miss being in the classroom with the students and the chance to help them during office hours. I’ve often commented, “I teach for free. They pay me to grade papers.” What’s your favorite season on campus?

TF: Mid- to late spring—with the greening vegetation, the flowering trees, and earthy scents—is probably the most uplifting. But, as a weather guy, I like all seasons. You can’t really beat an early March driving cold rain to test your mental character.

What’s your favorite way to connect with students?

DB: For students on campus, I prefer a visit during office hours. For graduates, an email from time to time is special. I feel connected with students when going to athletic events, theater and musical productions, lectures given by guest speakers who come to campus, and Big Red Weekend.

TF: I enjoy the unexpected, so I strive to respond in class or in passing with the unexpected comment and then see where the conversation goes. Denison students are a lively, socially and intellectually vibrant bunch, so it’s entertaining to test their mental acuity and social agility whenever possible. 



Published December 2016