Susan Barnes

Susan Barnes
Susan Barnes

I was one of three women hired by The Hutchins School of Liberal Studies in 1972. Affirmative Action was in place. I was 29. I had a year more of graduate school and a dissertation to perform and write. I took upper division students to Napa State Hospital for Independent Study. We taught sign language to 6 autistic boys. One boy "graduated" and went home.

The campus was fun in those pre-Dimo days - dope and dogs, free speech and free love. Hutchins appealed to re-entry students with marvelously diverse backgrounds and life experiences that informed their discussions and opinions. Seminars were often exciting. I loved combining psychology and biology and literature and comparative religion and women's studies in various upper division courses. And I marveled at the wealth of independent study projects that students chose. I hated the times the faculty disagreed in those long Friday afternoon faculty meetings. Over time we lost our youth and some of our ideals and yet, as a faculty, we treated each other pretty well, and made some lasting friends and passing lovers. Several waves of younger faculty enlivened and enriched the program, thank goodness!

Today I live alone on the northwest corner of the Big Island of Hawaii in a house I dreamed and a farm of fruit and nuts and herbs and flowers. I make flower lei, weed the garden a lot and talk to my chickens. Life is good. Hutchins was and is my ohana; faculty, students and staff