Professor Boynton leaves Allegheny to become provost of Beloit College

Professor Eric Boynton

Professor Eric Boynton

As another academic year passes, Allegheny College is expected to change in preparation for the 2019-20 school year — the college will bid farewell to Eric Boynton, professor and chair of philosophy and religious studies.

Boynton will be taking the position of provost at Beloit College starting June 10. Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin, shares many similarities to Allegheny’s campus, including size and liberal arts values.

Boynton joined Allegheny’s faculty in 2002, and has worked at the college for a total of 17 years. With all that he has accomplished at Allegheny, the experiences Boynton will remember most are the ones involving his role as a teacher.

“The most memorable experiences are the ones in the classroom,”  Boynton said. “You see the students light up. Both student and professor learn something.”

While Boynton will miss Allegheny, he said he is looking forward to the new opportunity and new experience of taking on a collegiate administrative role.

“I am looking forward to having the ability and responsibility of shaping the learning culture of a campus that size,” Boynton said.

While preparing for the new responsibilities as provost of Beloit College, Boynton is also preparing for leaving the colleagues he has worked with over the years.

“My colleagues are world-class scholars,” Boynton said. “Some of the best.”

Just as Boynton will miss Allegheny faculty, those who have worked closely with Boynton will miss him as well.

“I was part of the search committee that hired Boynton,” said Glenn Holland, professor of religious studies. “I was one of the ones who interviewed him initially then brought him to campus, and I would say from the beginning it was clear that he was a good fit for the department, which is always important, and that he had the potential to be a very sound scholar and an excellent teacher and also to have abilities and interests that reach beyond the classroom.”

Holland has witnessed Boynton’s journey as a new educator to the professor and chair Boynton has grown into.

“I think the best way of describing our relationship over time is when he first started working at Allegheny, he would have an idea and he would come to me and say ‘what is the best way of doing this?’” Holland said. “Then after a while, he would come to me and say ‘I’m thinking of doing this, what do you think?’ And after that, he started coming in saying ‘this is what I am going to do.’”

Holland was able to watch Boynton grow as a professor at Allegheny and thinks Boynton is taking the next logical step for his career.

“As he gained more expertise, more experience, more acuity in dealing with the various issues that one confronts as a professor and being at the lower levels of administration as well,” Holland said. “I also had the opportunity to see him as chairmen of the department and as the head of interdisciplinary studies, it’s always been an interesting thing to watch, the growth and the development and now to see him now taking what seems like the next logical step by accepting the position at Beloit.”

Faculty will also miss the ways in which Boynton taught in the classroom and how that has impacted students who had the opportunity to take courses with him.

“He has always been a very good mentor for students,” Holland. “He is, I’ve got to use the word exciting, to watch in the classroom, because as he is explaining things, you can tell new ideas are coming to him as well.”

Boynton’s work in the classroom might be a little exhausting with the amount of effort he puts in, but it is all for the students he teaches according to Holland.

“He fills up the board with different ideas and different points of view he wants to make and can sometimes leave you a little breathless, but he is always willing to meet with students and bring them up to speed in various ways,” Holland said. “(He is) very generous with his time, very generous with his ideas, and I think a lot of students really flourished under his supervision and under his teaching as a professor because he does nurture their interest.”

Similar to Holland, Irem Kurtsal, visiting assistant professor of religious studies at Allegheny College, will miss Boynton’s teaching style, but will also miss what Boynton brought to her life.  

“I met Eric back when I lived in Istanbul when we cooperated on building a partnership between Bogazici University and Allegheny College,” Kurtsal said. “He had an infectious passion for bringing students to sites, not only telling them but also showing them why ideas mattered and what they caused in the world. He is the kind of person we all want to be, an agent of good wherever he is planted.”

Kurtsal will miss Boynton not only as a coworker, but also as a friend and mentor.

“As friend and mentor, he helped me put my life and career back together when I had to abruptly leave Istanbul,” Kurtsal said. “He is such a huge part of my Allegheny experience that I haven’t yet been able to come to terms with his leaving. I’m still at the first stage of grief, denial.”

Students who have worked with Boynton also have enjoyed his teaching style and the impact he has had on their educations and lives.

“Professor Boynton’s teaching style is unique, and his enthusiasm for teaching is unmatched,” said Aubrey Collins, ’19. “Each class session brought new discoveries and insights and would leave you feeling excited and a little disoriented. He challenged you to think for yourself, and to think about yourself, about your life, your values and your place in the world.”