As many do at Pitzer College, now-Emeritus Professor of Sociology Peter Nardi found that he could be himself here. The encouragement to research, write and teach in ways that were personally meaningful and professionally fulfilling were among what he valued most and part of what compelled him to stay for 33 years—1975 to 2008. On par with this were the countless relationships forged with students over the decades, many of which endure today.
“The College’s basic values and ethos and the philosophy of my colleagues were a great fit for who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do,” says Professor Nardi, who also served as associate dean of faculty for almost 10 years and, in the spring of 2009, as acting president. “The focus on teaching gave me an opportunity to interact with and get to know students on an ongoing basis—advising them, learning with them, seeing them go through life engaged in the kind of work and values they experienced while at Pitzer.”
For Professor Nardi, most memorable were the students who came to Pitzer with very little college preparation and few resources: “Some of my favorite memories are of students who arrived at Pitzer from low-income backgrounds without many of the skills it takes to get through college. And then to see them thrive and grow, it made me want to make sure the next generation can get there, too.”
Taking an active role in helping future students earn a Pitzer degree even when family resources are lean, and wanting to give back to the institution that so positively influenced his life, Professor Nardi made a bequest to Pitzer in addition to his regular annual support of the College.
“I think about Pitzer’s motto, Provida Futuri, and to me this is making a commitment to students’ futures, as well as the College’s. It’s a commitment to the possibility, to the hope that the College will sustain and enhance the values and spirit it was founded on; that the values of diversity and social justice and understanding will endure; that future generations will be taught about and experience these values.”
Professor Nardi requested that his gift support “anything related to teaching—from giving students the ability to come to campus to learn, all the way to the tools and resources that faculty need to teach students.”
Since receiving emeritus status, Professor Nardi has enjoyed traveling with his partner of 17 years, Jeff Chernin, to such places as Cuba, Vietnam, Croatia and, next stop, Iceland; reading novels; and writing a couple of text books. Coming out soon will be a fourth edition of his research methodology book, based on a course he taught at Pitzer for 25-plus years; and another on critical thinking as it relates to interpreting research.
Impacting Future Generations
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