Farmen concludes 49-year teaching career at AU

Thu, 2013-05-02 10:16 -- univcomm
Dr. Bill Farmen
May 2, 2013

After 49 years as a professor of psychology, Dr. William Farmen is saying goodbye to Anderson University. As a graduate of AU, Farmen put almost half a century of time and energy back into the university where his love and interests were born.

“I personally have learned something new every week for the last 35 years from him,” said Dr. Lee Griffith, professor of psychology. “I owe him a tremendous personal debt and will miss all our stimulating conversations.”

During his time as a professor, Farmen never just played the role of instructor. Instead, part of his love for teaching came from open discussions and debates with his students, during which he learned just as much as he taught. “I came to love the intellectual excitement that I experienced,” said Farmen. “My mind was opened to new ideas in philosophy, theology, and psychology.”

Although Farmen is retiring, the impact he has had on students’ lives will continue for years. “He helped me to see the world and people for what they truly are, which sometimes makes life harder, but I’m glad he opened my eyes,” said senior Ashley Kern. Farmen’s passion for teaching is apparent to all his students. Although Farmen’s coursework focused on psychology, he emphasized personal growth and discovery through his teaching, as well.

According to Griffith, there are two major aspects to the legacy Farmen will leave in the Department of Psychology. The first is his development of a rigorous scientific emphasis in the psychology major. This emphasis is evident through the students’ statistical research skills — one of Farmen’s passions. “I think I am a bit odd in that I like statistics and data analysis,” said Farmen, “I have taught intermediate statistics classes almost every year since I started teaching at AU.”

The second major part of his legacy is the interpersonal relations course. Through this popular social skills course, Farmen has taught students to be more honest, assertive, and interpersonally affective. “This course is always popular among both psychology and non-major students,” said Griffith. “It has changed the lives of many students.”

While it has long been known to be one of his biggest strengths, the course has also been one of Farmen’s biggest challenges. “I had to be willing to expose my own vulnerabilities to enable my students to express theirs,” said Farmen. Yet, through his humility and honesty, students have taken the skills they learned from this class and applied them to a wide variety of professional activities, such as working in counseling centers, schools, and churches after graduation.

Anderson University Psychology Faculty 2013[Photo: The Department of Psychology (from left): Dr. Lee Griffith, Dr. Laura Stull, Dr. Bill Farmen, and Dr. Wayne Priest. See more photos from Dr. Farmen's retirement reception.]

Not only has Farmen touched students’ lives, but they have touched his in return. “My time at AU has been like an adventure, with many twists and turns,” said Farmen. “The realities and entanglements of my life have changed me by broadening my perspective on truth and deepening my understanding of grace and mercy.”

Concluding his years at AU, Farmen is walking away with a new perspective on faith and learning, “I am thankful that I was able to teach in an open and supportive campus,” said Farmen. “It is wonderful that we learn in an environment where students and faculty are able to develop their God-given gifts.” He also added that he is extremely appreciative of all his colleagues, past and present, in the Department of Psychology including Dr. Lewis Hennigar, Dr. John Roys, Dr. Curt Leech, Dr. Lee Griffith, Dr. Linda Swindell, Dr. Wayne Priest, and Dr. Laura Stull.

Visit http://anderso.nu/15MkMra to share your words of appreciation for Dr. Farmen. Gifts can be made to The Farmen Fund, which has been created to assist psychology students with costs associated with undergraduate research projects.

— Katie Wenclewicz is a sophomore from Anderson, Ind., majoring in communication arts and minoring in marketing. Wenclewicz is an associate of Fifth Street Communications®, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.