Campus community welcomes 105-year-old professor from Middle Earth
Written by: Gandalf
1969 marked the first year that female students were admitted into Xavier. Since then, diversity among the faculty and staff alike has been highly valued. Shortly before, Xavier hired its first tenured female professor. In 2000, Xavier hired their first president with the name of “Michael Graham,” shattering the glass ceiling for everyone with a first-last name combo. The 2020-21 school year will see another historical first with a Hobbit staff member from Middle Earth joining the Science department.
Erling Puddifoot has been no stranger to scrutiny and teasing for his demographic. He stands shorter than Kevin Hart and dresses like Elton John. “There are all these stereotypes out there that hobbits eat and get drunk all day. That is rubbish, we may eat three breakfasts and blow your eardrums out with a belch, but we are also productive. My friend Bilbo slayed a dragon two centuries ago. I have also slayed multiple orcs with my axe throwing skills,” he said.
He also faces the challenges of ageism in a society where elders are not always respected. “I am 105 years old. I had a student walk by me the other day and tell me that I was even older than Father B,” he said. “If you know the material and if you are qualified, age does not matter. I know the anatomy of hobbits, elves, orcs and wizards very well, and I cannot wait to share it with the Xavier community.”
Those at the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) are elated to have Puddifoot on the Xavier staff. They were the first to reach out with a future job opening. “Here at Xavier, we are excited to see another milestone of inclusion,” Director of CDI Kyra Shahid says. “We want people to know that your race, gender, orientation, ability, blood type, species, social security number or pineapple on pizza preference is a part of your identity to be proud of,” she adds.
The student body also perceives him positively, despite most of them never having met him yet. “I am grateful to have him as a teacher for next semester,” first-year biology major Sarah Schilling said. “I just realized how little I really know about the world around me. I don’t know what the hell a hobbit is or what an orc is. Hopefully after having him I [will] no longer have my head up my ass.”
The hope is that in hiring Puddifoot, people who live far away will be encouraged to take up a teaching career or become a student at Xavier. Many others have applied, including Prince Caspian from Narnia. The University has yet to decide if he is eligible.
Categories: Campus News