In the autumn of 1986, I began teaching astronomy and physics at the University of South Carolina Lancaster. USCL, as we affectionately call it, is one of the smaller campuses in the University of South Carolina system. During my time there, USCL increased in size tremendously, with a more than doubling in enrollment and a doubling in the number of faculty. When I went to Lancaster, I didn’t know how long that I might stay, but I quickly grew to love my colleagues, our students, and the wonderful Lancaster community, so it soon became home. USCL was a good environment for me: I rose to the rank of Full Professor, and in retirement I hold the title of Distinguished Professor Emeritus. It’s probably the first time that my name and the word “distinguished” have been used in the same context.
And I was able to pursue my passion about biblical creation while there. For instance, when my first book came out, Universe by Design, John Catalano, the USCL Campus Dean at the time, insisted on doing a book signing on our campus, something that he did for all faculty members who published a book. That evening, I think that he gave me the best introduction that I have ever received. Though not everyone at the University agreed with my belief in creation, they respected my performance in the classroom, my other scholarly work, and my service to the campus and the community. On a few occasions, some people from outside the University attempted to cause problems for me with the administration because of my creation beliefs. On every such occasion, the administration defended me, based upon academic freedom. You see, not everyone’s story in academia is as bad as those in the documentary movie Expelled. It’s good to know that academic freedom is alive and well at the University of South Carolina. I couldn’t be more proud of my University.
So, why would I leave such a wonderful place? Believe me; I could have been very happy spending the rest of my life in Lancaster. However, almost from the first day, I had it in my heart that if I ever retired from the University, I would want to spend my post-retirement years working for a creation ministry. The first 10-15 years at USCL, such a possibility was a distant thought. But after 20 years, retirement no longer seemed so far away. My wife, Lynette, and I increasingly discussed working at a creation ministry, and each time we did, Answers in Genesis seemed to be at the top of our list. After much prayer, at the end of 2011 Lynette and I made the commitment to purchase some time to count toward retirement. We had planned for me to continue working at USCL for another 2 ½ – 3 years and then begin looking for a place to use my talents. Just five days later, I learned that Jason Lisle, the astronomer at Answers in Genesis, was leaving to take a job at the Institute for Creation Research. It hadn’t occurred to me that as long as Jason was at Answers in Genesis, I probably couldn’t work there – why would they want two astronomers? We ended up moving to northern Kentucky and joining Answers in Genesis a year later.
It’s taken a little while to adjust to things here, but I think that we have. Lynette volunteers at Answers in Genesis two days per week. We eat lunch here those days, but on the other days I usually go home for lunch, something that I’ve been doing for nearly 30 years. Perhaps in the future I’ll tell you a bit more about what I do here. For now, let me say that I couldn’t be happier. Many people never find a job that they truly enjoy. I know that I am very blessed in that I’ve had two wonderful jobs in my life.
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