By Tyler Short
Daily interactions with professors are typically limited to an academic setting with them working as educators of the student body. However, beyond their reputations as acamedics, many professors at Lewis & Clark have several unique hobbies that differ from their professional pursuits.
Stuart Kaplan, a part-time Professor Emeritus of Communication at LC, has been engaged in woodworking since his late teens. His father was an architect and regularly brought Kaplan along to witness the progress of the buildings he designed. There, he was exposed to the work of carpentry, acquiring the necessary information to become a skilled woodworker.
“Woodworking is probably my major hobby, although I do have some others,” Kaplan said. “I find that I enjoy the creative aspect of it, the exercise and the little bit of physical effort that’s involved.”
While Kaplan constructs primarily functional pieces such as furniture and cabinets, he also incorporates artistic aspects in the works. He experiments with materials, mixing different kinds of wood and metal. Additionally, Kaplan’s hobby allows him to save money. He largely contributed to the construction of the house that he and his wife now live in, building all of the kitchen cabinets and some of the furniture.
“The builders ran out of money,” Kaplan said. “So I ended up having to complete most of the interior by myself.”
Currently, Kaplan is in the process of transforming his home office into a personal art gallery, constructing a network of cabinets and shelves of the art he and his wife have made.
Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies Matthieu Raillard said that he appreciates how his hobbies allow him to find a balance between his professional and personal life.
“Most of my hobbies are activities that take me away from the type of work I do professionally,” Raillard said via email. “While I love my work, it can be a bit intangible because it’s all words: teaching, writing, reading, grading, etc. Because of that, I take a lot of pleasure in activities that produce a concrete, physical creation.”
For fifteen years, Raillard has been participating in do-it-yourself activities like working on his car. Raillard’s projects include making improvements by replacing the brake rotors or installing a backup camera, allowing him to drive in reverse with ease. Additionally, he maintains a strong technological interest and assembles his own computers.
“There’s nothing like booting up a machine that you’ve put together from scratch,” Raillard said. “I’m also a gamer, so it’s doubly satisfying to play on something you built.”
Elizabeth Bennett, Assistant Professor of International Affairs, maintains a deep commitment to environmentalism that affects many of her hobbies. For example, Bennett has been skiing since the age of three and began backcountry skiing in college. Currently, she tries to ski about once a week at Mt. Hood, hiking up the slopes using climbing skins and her own endurance rather than electrically powered ski lifts.
“Being in nature where it’s contemplative and peaceful, going to no place in particular and it not mattering how fast you get there are what really draw me to it,” Bennet said. “And it’s good quality time with my dog Rhubarb.”
Bennett’s dedication and commitment to environmentally-friendly recreation even motivates her to engage in environmental action. In 2015, several hundred-year-old Douglas fir trees near an old house at Southeast 41st and Clinton Street were put at risk when Everett Custom Homes wanted to make space for construction. The company cut down two of them, leaving people heartbroken , some even weeping at the loss of the trees. As a result, protests erupted in front of the construction site where locals helped in whatever way they could. People parked their cars to block the trees, made signs and contacted the media to bring the issue to the public’s attention.
Since Bennett has climbed trees recreationally, she offered to climb and sit in one of the threatened Douglas firs. Due to the protester’s and Bennet’s activism, the remaining trees are standing, demonstrating how non-professional passions can be utilized to improve the world.
“We can often be paralyzed by how complicated problems are,” Bennett said. “In this situation, when a lot of people participated in small actions, they added up to policy change.”