Acadia Senior College

ASC President's Column

Nat Fenton
November 2018


Special Message from the President

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Dear members and friends of Acadia Senior College,

Leonardo da Vinci’s To Do lists, according to Walter Isaacson’s biography, included the following:

“Get the master of arithmetic to show you how to square a triangle… Ask Giannino the Bombardier about how the tower of Ferrara is walled… Ask Benedetto Protinarie by what means they walk on ice in Flanders... Get a master of hydraulics to tell you how to repair a lock, canal and mill in the Lombard manner… Get the measurement of the sun promised me by Maestro Giovanni Francese, the Frenchman.”

A curious member of Acadia Senior College might have a To Do list including the following:

“Ask Ruth or Duane Braun why Burnt Porcupine Island remains white on its southeast side and what the white layer is… Ask Paul or Margot Haertel what black and white birds bob up and down on Frenchman’s Bay on these cold days… Ask Hugh Clark what the Daode Jing is… Ask Annemarie Vickers-Quin who A. E. Coppard is.”

The Brauns, the Haertels, Hugh and Annemarie are teachers in Acadia Senior College, adding to our knowledge and quality of life here in Downeast Maine. I am writing this message to you on “Giving Tuesday,” a day when I might write to ask you for financial support of ASC. But I have already done that recently and many of you have already responded with your donation. No, that is not the purpose of this message.

As we look back at 2018, the number of courses for each trimester averaged a little over 11 courses, less than we have averaged in prior years. As a result, there has been increased pressure to secure a spot in these courses. Some of us have been disappointed when we were unable to get into our first choice or perhaps any course due to the speed with which the courses fill up. Seven of our ten courses for the Winter 2019 term are full and some have long wait lists. It is frustrating to be a member of ASC and not find a place in a course you wish to take or an alternate course that fits your interests.

Two years ago, when we realized we needed more teachers, we first asked the Board to consider teaching courses. Our Board exceeded our expectations – ten of the current fourteen Directors stepped up and taught a course in the last year. Several ASC members who have taught courses in the past have come back after a break of several years and taught again. Some who have taught for years continue blessing us and ASC. However, it is not enough. ASC is thriving, the demand for classes is high, and we need more teachers.

What I am asking today is for you to share your passion, knowledge, experience or interest with the members of Acadia Senior College by becoming a teacher. If you do that, and we can attain 45 teachers, we will have a faculty that can provide an average of 15 courses per trimester, and no one will have to teach more than one course per year. A larger faculty will allow more members to take more courses and offer more variety, thereby relieving the pressure to gain a place in a course on registration day.

We already have three new teachers for Spring 2019. What I can almost guarantee is that they will enjoy the experience. A recent first-time teacher stated that he was “delighted at the positive response to the course, but I came away thinking that I enjoyed it more than anyone.” Teaching is incredibly rewarding, not only for what you yourself learn while preparing for the course, but also from what you learn from your students, all of whom want to be there and may have experience or knowledge about your subject. If your subject is your passion or one of great interest, you cannot lose and ASC and your students will surely benefit. You don’t need to be a teacher, you don’t need to teach on what your occupation was all your life, you don’t need to have prior teaching experience, you don’t need to teach a course that you would expect to take in college or graduate school, what you do need is a passion or strong interest in a subject that you can share with your students.

When we make out our future To Do lists, they will include your name in the sentence beginning

“Ask _________ how… or who… or why… or what…”

You will feel the joy of sharing your knowledge or experience with your fellow members and extending your own knowledge in your subject.

For this year, please add to your own To Do list: contact Charles Stanhope, Chair of our Curriculum Committee, at, or me at, or any Director and let us know of your interest and how we can help you share it with us. Information for instructors and an online course proposal form are available on our website.

Thank you for your fair consideration of my humble request. I promise you won’t regret it and that you “will enjoy it more than anyone.”


Nat Fenton

President, Acadia Senior College