I studied Political Science at Susquehanna University from 1994-1998. Dr. James Blessing was the head of the department the entire time while I was there; and for many years before and after. I don't know how many years he was at Susquehanna - if I was going to guess I would say it was more than 40 years.
I don't know the small details such as when he was born or what the "A" stood for in his middle name. But I do know these things...
He was passionate about the students, the campus, and the academics. He was a very tough grader. I used to get sick each time before taking any of his tests - all essay, all the time.
He challenged us to think critically. He loved political theory and no matter what your opinion was on the subject, he would challenge you to look at it from another perspective.
The Department office was always open to students, and he encouraged us to support each other. My Junior and Senior years were spent as a Department Assistant and with his support, we started the Political Science Club and a tutoring program. Both met right in the office area - a small, warm room with a large table, an ancient computer, and a pot of coffee. He and two other amazing instructors - Dr. Gene Urey and Mr. Bruce Evans - shared the small space and worked together for many years. Together, they made the Department truly great. We held election parties (I'll never forget the Nixon mask that Mr. Evans was sporting that night) and end-of-the-year parties in that office.
Most of my friends and I would hang out in the office even when class wasn't in session and we had no place in particular to be. We were passionate about politics and loved a good debate. Dr. Blessing would pop his head out of the office on occasion to make a statement just to stir things up a bit.
He strongly supported the Mock UN program and was instrumental in getting Susquehanna involved in the program. The first year we participated, he drove the 6 or 8 of us (I can't remember who was all involved at the time) to Washington, DC and showed us around the city. He had studied at the American University when he was younger and loved the city. He was eager to share his experiences with us. We spent a few days in Georgetown participating in the Mock UN as Greece - debating the implementation of the proposed euro. He continued to keep Susquehanna involved in that program for years to follow.
He was a true mentor and influenced much of my critical thinking. I do not think anyone who took one of his classes could say otherwise. He is part of what made my college experience so great. I am saddened that a true legacy has passed on.
Peace be with you, Dr. Blessing. You will always be remembered.
|Dr. James Blessing|