Why an Endowment?
While we were meeting in his Morrill Hall office in December 1982, Dr. Sam Baskett told me that he hated to fail a graduate student unless he absolutely had to do so. In my case, he explained, he did not feel that he absolutely had to do so.
Dr. Baskett's message was clear. I was on the verge of failing out of my doctoral program. Essentially, I was on Academic Probation.
Three months later, I stopped drinking.
On behalf of the Michigan State University English department, in 1983 Dr. Baskett awarded me an assistantship. Academically, I was no longer the same student with whom he had met with less than a year earlier.
I am aware that some would argue that assistantships and other forms of financial aid are better spent only on those whom have never experienced a personal setback; that it is a mistake to take a risk on a student like me.
In December 1983, I finished teaching my first college composition class. Just three years later, in 1986, I was awarded the most prestigious honor Michigan State University gave to graduate teaching assistants.
In 1987, I published my first book. And in 1989, I completed my dissertation on AA, Spiritual Issues, and the Treatment of Lesbian and Gay Alcoholics.
I am currently a tenured faculty member at Schoolcraft College with a joint appointment in the departments of English and History; a tenured faculty member who had almost failed out of graduate school.
I am grateful that Dr. Baskett and the Michigan State University English Department believed, as I do, that students who have had serious setbacks can reach their potential with appropriate encouragement and mentoring.
The Berg Endowment honors