Currents file photo. Photo courtesy of Ron Hall | Design by Logan Wood
Pepperdine waved goodbye to Cyndia Clegg, distinguished professor of English at Seaver College, after 45 years of teaching.
Clegg taught a wide range of classes, including courses on Shakespeare, Renaissance English Literature and Spiritual Writing. She regularly taught in the Great Books Colloquium and the GE Humanities sequence. She also served as the faculty-in-residence at the Florence, London and France International Programs.
Clegg was the associate dean of International Programs and acting interim director of the London International Program. She was the director of the English program for 10 years and and coordinated the GE Humanities sequence for five years. Clegg was also three time president of the Seaver Faculty organization — now called the Seaver Faculty Senate — and chaired the University Faculty Council for three years.
Dannie Aro, Seaver alumna (’21) and Clegg’s teacher assistant, said she learned a lot from her.
“She just really cared about my holistic life, not just about my academic life,” Aro said.
Clegg said Great Books Colloquium was one of the parts she loved most about working at Pepperdine. This and the international program opportunities allowed her to experience extraordinary personal and intellectual interactions with her students.
Clegg was Aro’s professor for Great Books and Aro said the way she taught was very unique and different from other professors.
“She’s like, ‘There’s a lot here, and I want to hear your opinion about it,'” Aro said. “She would let us write anything, and Great Books is supposed to be like peak academia at Pepperdine, and she’s like your opinion and what you think is important out of these texts is peak academia, which was really cool to me.”
After working at Pepperdine for so many years, Clegg said she hoped she made an impact on the University.
“I have tried to improve respect for women across the University and to support women faculty in their efforts to become excellent scholars and teachers and balance this with their family demands and personal needs,” Clegg said. “When I started my tenure-track position at Seaver, there were five tenure-track women on the faculty. Things have definitely improved.”
Aro also said Clegg made a life-changing impact on her.
“[She is] like what I hope to be in the future,” Aro said. “Someone who gets to call the shots and say, this is how all of the old white men did it for 5,000 years, and this is how we’re gonna do it, and this is also good and it’s also rigorous and it’s also smart and academic. And we don’t have to keep doing stuff like this. I just want to hear what you have to say.”
The faculty committee she chaired agreed to invite national fraternities and sororities to Pepperdine, Clegg said.
“More important, though, than my impact on the institution, is the impact that my students reassure me I had on them,” said Clegg.
Aro said she dropped out of Pepperdine after her first semester, but ended up returning.
“When I came back to Pepperdine, I made sure to tell her that she was part of the reason that I came back, because she was so supportive of me,” Aro said.
Clegg said she has a lot planned for her life in retirement. She plans to continue her research on English print culture, completing a book about propaganda and the English Reformation during the reign of Elizabeth I. In addition, Clegg wants to spend time at the Huntington Library, British Library and Bodleian Library in Oxford. She also looks forward to traveling, both for research and pleasure.
“And, of course, we never know what surprises God has in store for us,” Clegg said.
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