Anthony L. Swinehart ’92
Further education: Master of Science degree in biology and conservation biology from Central Michigan University; doctorate in forestry and natural resources from Purdue University.
Now: Associate professor of biology at Hillsdale College and director of the G.H. Gordon Biological Station. His research focuses on aquatic ecology and palaeoecology, and he has published approximately 20 manuscripts in peer-reviewed scientific journals. He is currently writing and illustrating a book on the palaeoecology of wetlands in the southern Great Lakes Region.
What are the most challenging and enjoyable aspects of your job?
The most challenging aspect of my job is balancing the tasks of teaching,research, publication and service. Another significant challenge of my job is serving as a witness for Christ while at the same time fulfilling my role as a scientist and educator. Many people have the misguided view that a Biblically based faith is incompatible with scientific facts and theories, including an old, evolving earth. I greet this challenge enthusiastically, because I feel that we all need to consider faith and creation in far more sophisticated ways.
I most enjoy the independence, the life-long learning and experiencing the wonders of nature all over again through the eyes and reactions of my students. I feel a great sense of personal satisfaction in being an instrument of their discoveries and their ultimate successes.
How has your Goshen College experience shaped and prepared you for what you are doing now?
Goshen College has had a significant impact on what I am doing now. Dr. Jonathan N. Roth (professor emeritus of biology), on a High School Marine Biology trip at Goshen’s Marine Biology Lab in the Florida Keys, had such a positive impact on me. The role model that he provided as a good scientist, a person of faith and a person of good character was significant to my success.
My experiences at Goshen’s Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center also allowed me to develop skills in effective teaching and experiential learning. I am not Mennonite, and my social and political philosophy is more conservative, but I valued the exposure to opposing viewpoints.
What are your vocation and life goals?
Now that I have achieved my life-long goal of becoming a professor, my intent is to refine that goal. I hope to learn more, but I also hope to become a better leader, role model, friend and mentor for my students in much the same way that Dr. Roth was a friend and very important mentor to me.
There is one chapel that I recall particularly from my Goshen College experience. The title of the presentation by June Alliman Yoder (’67) was, “This is my son, with whom I am well pleased.” Her message was how we can apply this biblical verse to our lives. Is this something we might expect to hear when we meet our Creator? Although I know that it is not an easy task, I want to strive to make my contributions to creation and society something with which “[God] is well pleased.”
How has Goshen’s motto, “Culture for Service,” impacted the way you choose to live and pursue your vocational calling?
Goshen College’s motto, “Culture for Service” has always reminded me to ask how my activities will glorify God. Asking this question has helped me integrate my God-given passion for biology with service-oriented endeavors. While not all of us will be ministers, we can utilize whatever it is that we do, whether we are custodians or scientists, to serve the Greater Good.