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Focus Series brings clarity to order/chaos divide

Dr. Russell Howell

The annual Focus Series event came to campus a semester early this academic year, disrupting the regular calendar with the fitting subject “Chaos & Order.” On Monday, Oct. 22, Dr. Russell Howell, Professor of Mathematics at Westmont College, inaugurated the days-long lecture series with a Chapel keynote titled “Dealing with the Chaos of Status Anxiety.”

Dr. Howell preached a message of mindfulness, entreating his audience to avoid comparing their lives to those of their peers, and instead rely on the spiritual disciplines modeled by Christ to keep their loves rightly ordered. Later that evening he delivered a second, more academic keynote in the Ralph Carey Forum, exercising his expertise in a lecture titled “Why Does Mathematics Make Order Out of Chaos?”

As with every Focus, the majority of the following day was blocked off for special lectures delivered by SAU community members, giving students, faculty and staff alike the opportunity to attend those sessions that grabbed their interest. Speakers included well-known SAU community members like Billy Stone ‘10, Resident Director of Andrews Hall, Dr. Caleb Chan, Professor of Business and Dean of the Gainey School of Business, and Mark Correll, Professor of History.

Throughout the day, speakers explored themes of chaos and order through the lenses of their respective disciplines, discussing topics from presidential history to corporate culture, Augustinian theology to personality tests and everything in between. As ever, this year’s Focus was an informative and well-attended event.