Office Space

Jim Kimball holds a Banjo. Members of the Geneseo String Band still perform with this mandolin banjo, made by the W.A. Cole company of Boston in the 1900s.

By Kris Dreessen | Photos by Keith Walters ’11

For some professors, The Office is Where the Heart Is.

A replica of a hat for a Senegalese king. Large, framed photos of Machu Picchu that were taken during a study abroad trip with students and later paired with Latin American poetry in a cultural exhibition. A hand-crafted harp. A rare replica of the Infant of Prague dressed in Catholic ceremonial gowns, fit for a museum exhibition. Stepping into some professors’ offices is an encounter with  their passion for their area of expertise, their personalities and life journeys.

Jim Kimball

Lecturer of Music, director of the Geneseo String Band

Department: Music

Geneseo family since: 1976

On a wall of Jim Kimball’s office is a black-and-white photo of the Geneseo cornet band circa 1982. He wears a top hat while fellow musicians flank him  — several of whom are faculty and community members.

On a shelf, he keeps an album of the Geneseo String Band — which he founded 41 years ago.

The 1979 recording is one of thousands of artifacts serving as testaments to his connection to community, and love of music. There is more music and music history memorabilia than walking space in Jim’s office. It is secondary to historically important texts, recordings and objects from Geneseo, the region and the world. As an ethnomusicologist, Jim says he is a devout “studier of music of the world, typically not studied in music departments. We can look at classical, but also folk, ritual and tribal. We study not only the notes but also how it all fits within culture.”

He’s carried that passion for discovery — and preservation — since joining the college in 1976 as a professor and director of the Geneseo String Band.

The band showcases talented students, faculty members and residents, who perform with instruments from fiddles to washboard, for concerts, receptions, festivals and on-campus square dances each semester.

He’s regarded as an esteemed expert in the “old-time” music of Central and Western New York, conducting the most comprehensive study of it — through interviews, recordings and videos. “I have been the first to notate and document many tunes that had long circulated only in oral tradition,” says Jim.

Rose Mcewen holds a mask given to her by a student.

Rose McEwen

Associate Professor of Spanish, coordinator of Latin American Studies

Department: Languages and Literatures, Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching

Geneseo family since: 1998

Study Abroad: Coordinator of Costa Rica and Argentina programs; established Peru and Ecuador programs

Through literature and the artistry of the authors, says Rose, one can discover the culture, history and language of a people.

Although raised in Guatemala, Rose fell in love with Latin American literature in the United States, while taking elective courses to complete an elementary education degree.

Since then, she focuses on sharing her love for Latin American writers.

“I hope that in my courses, my Geneseo students find inspiration and become passionate about learning the language,” she says, “and about exploring the language on their own.”

Every couple of years, her advanced-level students stage a Hispanic play, to  experience the cultural nuances and emotions behind the written word.

“That’s why there’s a wardrobe in here,” says Rose, signaling to costumes on a rack behind the door.

Her office is more of a residence, with a couch, comfy chair, paintings and mementos that reflect 20 years of teaching at Geneseo and a lifetime traveling throughout Latin America.

“My office is my second home,” says Rose. “Students tell me they feel comfortable here. That’s important to me.”

Kodjo Adabra in his office

Kodjo Adabra

Associate Professor of Francophone Studies, coordinator of the French language program

Department: Languages and Literatures

Geneseo family since: 2010

Study abroad: Senegal summer program campus director

Kodjo Adabra’s office is a window to the world — Pulled-back curtains expose a map that spans 10 feet.

“It symbolizes open-mindedness,” says Kodjo. “The more we learn about other people, their ways of life, cultures and beliefs, the better we connect with each other at a human level.”

“The most valuable things in the world,” he says, “are ideas.”

His vision is reflected in his office, an environment  layered with items symbolizing the present, the past, and his  journey.

Originally from Togo, Kodjo was jailed in 1999 when he was a graduate student, for leading protests against the former dictator, Gnassingbé Eyadéma. “We wanted freedom,” says Kodjo.

Believing  he would not leave jail alive, he relied on his knowledge and skills as a  martial arts instructor to literally fight his way out. Once free, he ran home to say goodbye to his family, and then crossed the border into Ghana for refuge.

He was awarded political asylum and arrived in the United States in 2002. He learned English independently while working at Target for four years.

In Togo, he studied business. Here in the United States, he pursued degrees in French studies and literature, earning a Ph.D. in 2010.

His first years in America were lonely. In those days, he says, he came to reflect on the human condition and why we exist. The map is a reminder of such exploration. “My office is who I am,” says Kodjo. “It’s a reflection of my inner self.”

Lynette Bosch-Burroughs holds a two foot tall 1950s-era Infant of Prague.

Lynette Bosch

SUNY Distinguished Professor of Art History, coordinator of the Museum Studies minor

Department: Art History

Geneseo family since: 1999

Lynette Bosch’s office is a museum with a desk overflowing with antique and contemporary Catholic icons, and art.

Years ago, she started displaying replicas of the Infant of Prague, a miracle-granting figure in the Czech Republic. She has since expanded to images and figurines of the Virgin Mary and child, Catholic saints, and imagery from other religions — and much more.

“I started out thinking I should decorate my office with some of these things I have at home, to individualize it,” says Lynette. “It morphed into me using these objects when I teach. These are real, vintage objects with cultural value.” They are ideal objects for museum studies students to develop professional skills. They can learn research skills, cataloging, connoisseurship, and curation  for theorectical or actual  exhibitions.

Lynette’s office is an extension of herself. She is Catholic and Cuban, and started out teaching Spanish art, and branched into Hispanic and Latin American art. She’s able to blend her passionate interests and inquiry, with teaching art and cultural appreciation.

“It’s my work, but it’s also my life,” she says. “I go about my day thinking, ‘Can I use this for teaching?’”

 

Author: geneseoscene

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