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Classics professor offers wisdom from Greek literature to degree candidates

The Fall 2009 graduates of Austin Peay State University have much in common with Odysseus, a legendary Greek king of Ithaca who was the hero of Homers epic poem, The Odyssey and played a key role in Homers Iliad.

Dr. Timothy Winters, professor of languages and literature and the 2009 APSU Alumni Association Distinguished Professor Award recipient who was the keynote speaker at APSUs Fall 2009 Commencement ceremonies Dec. 18, compared the candidates educational experience to the journey that Odysseus made when he left Troy following battle and headed home.
The Fall 2009 graduates of Austin Peay State University have much in common with Odysseus, a legendary Greek king of Ithaca who was the hero of Homer's epic poem, “The Odyssey” and played a key role in Homer's “Iliad.”

Dr. Timothy Winters, professor of languages and literature and the 2009 APSU Alumni Association Distinguished Professor Award recipient who was the keynote speaker at APSU's Fall 2009 Commencement ceremonies Dec. 18, compared the candidates' educational experience to the journey that Odysseus made when he left Troy following battle and headed home.

“Just like Odysseus, you are on a journey and although you arrive today at a significant milepost, you are not home yet,” Winters said. “It is time now for you to put to work the wisdom you have gained here and take it to the next stage of your journey.”

Winters joined other faculty and staff to congratulate 601 candidates for degrees during the ceremonies in the Dunn Center.

When Winters began his teaching career at APSU in 1997, one of his first initiatives was to develop a study-abroad program in Greece. More than a decade later, it's merely one of the numerous achievements he's made while on the faculty.

In addition to the study-abroad program in Greece, Winters has developed a strong B.A. program in the classics, establishing and teaching courses in civilization, literature, mythology and archeology. The program has grown so much that APSU recently hosted the Tennessee Junior Classical League Convention, bringing great visibility to the campus and the classics program.

In his speech, Winters applied another lesson taught by Greek classic playwright Aeschylus, who had an idea about how people acquire wisdom.

“He condensed it to just a couple of words, ‘pathein, mathein,' which means ‘to suffer is to learn.' Anyone who has taken one of my classes would definitely agree with Aeschylus, but that statement contains a truth that might also be translated as ‘to endure is to gain wisdom,'” he said. “You have endured the years that it took to complete the core and satisfy the requirements for a degree, and I'm sure that you are wiser than when you first set foot on our campus.”

Winters was previously honored with the Socrates Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at APSU, and he also received the Award for Excellence in College Teaching from the Classical Association of the Middle West and South. Winters has had numerous articles published in academic journals, and he has a textbook on Homer that was published this summer, which he wrote in collaboration with a colleague in Ohio.

Winters also has served as an elected member of the University's Faculty Senate for nine of his 12 years on campus, including three terms as the Senate president. In addition to his academic career, he dedicates his weekends as a volunteer reserve officer for the Clarksville Police Department. He also is an ordained deacon with Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Clarksville.

APSU began holding dual commencements last December. Having two ceremonies is a significant milestone for APSU and is a result of the continued increase in the University's number of graduates over the past few years. This growth has made it very challenging to accommodate properly all of the degree candidates, faculty and guests in a single ceremony. -- Melony Shemberger