Cheerful wisdom

Cheerful wisdom

In our penultimate Actual Wisdom (look out tomorrow night for a super special Dean Wisdom), Nathan Pilkington casually drops his language prowess, explicitly mentions his Southerness, and eschews Columbia lions in favor of another savanna animal.

1. Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer.

To remind Columbia freshmen that they have reached the start and not the finish. To demonstrate that Rome was not the wonderful place it is sometimes imagined to be.

2. Your claim to fame (what makes you special?):

I am one of the few people at Columbia with an identifiable Southern accent. When necessary, I can impose it on any one of the other eight languages I speak.

3. What’s your most valuable or unexpected college experience?

A graduate fellowship. It has given me time and space to develop as a teacher and thinker.

4. What’s the craziest student excuse/extension story you’ve heard?

In seven years, I have only had one student tell a lie for an extension. I have never had a student pitch a crazy excuse. I feel a bit left out here.

5. Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese?

If one answers oral sex, then one needs a new partner. I am happily engaged.

6. Back in my day…

The WTC-PATH station and the tracks into and out of it were open-air spaces. Tourists used to ride the train just to see inside the site. In doing so, they unwittingly mixed with New Jerseyites… Oh, the fun!

7. Three things you learned at Columbia:

  • Be a lion, not a wildebeest.
  • “Fireside Chats” still exist.
  • Tennis courts, more than a science building, make a college feel like a college.

8. What’s your advice to students/academics/the human race in general?

‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ continue to matter, as does respect for those who are older and wiser than you.