04 May, 2006

Dr. Shawn Allin

I regret to inform the community that Dr. Shawn Allin was found unconscious in his office this morning and was taken to Spring Hill Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

All of us who loved Shawn - his parents, family members, colleagues and students - mourn the loss of this superb teacher who was truly a man for others.

Our community will gather for a memorial service at 5:00 p.m. today in St. Joseph Chapel, followed by a gathering in the Cloister at approximately 5:30 p.m. for those who wish to share support.

Greg Lucey, SJ
Spring Hill College

Dr. Allin was the first friend I made at Spring Hill College.  I was a somewhat older incoming freshman; at 21, I was still too young to be considered an 'adult' student, and far too old to really fit in with the other freshmen.

My very first class was General Chemistry, with Dr. Shawn Allin.  He was new to Spring Hill then, as was I, and the two of us hit it off immediately.  On the very first day, he sent me home with two of his books: a pop science by John Gribbin and a collection of SciAm articles by Stephen Jay Gould.  I stayed up half the night reading both of them, and returned them first thing the next morning.  I still remember the smile he gave me then: "Eric," he started, in his distinct Canadian accent, "I anticipate this will be the start of a great friendship."

More than any other teacher at Spring Hill, Shawn gave me guidance.  He introduced me to a favorite hobby of his: paleontology; and I subsequently spent a summer in the Dakota badlands digging up trike bones in the gumbo buttes.  When I started straying from science (physics and math was my thing back then) and turning toward philosophy, he was there for me.  He helped me adjust to the idea of keeping true to what I felt drawn toward, and argued philosophy of science with me a number of times.

Shawn went through a lot.  His divorce shocked me; Lynn was a common sight on campus, as she was getting an undergraduate degree.  That she left him immediately after graduating...  .:sigh:.  One cannot help but to wonder if she stayed with him near the end just to get the free tuition.  And finding out that he was leaving Spring Hill at the same time as I... ...

There is a part of me that wishes to say that I hope his death was the path he chose, rather than the path that some random occurence took him in.  I know this sounds strange, but the part of me that wishes to share that thought is somehow more significant than all the other parts of me put together.

Dr Allin was a great teacher.  Shawn was a great friend.  Maybe it was not premeditated.  Maybe it was.  I cannot say for sure.  But if it was...  I think there is some part of me that somewhat understands why he chose as he did.

I will miss you, Shawn.  Thank you for all you ever did for me.

Note: A follow-up to this was posted in March 2021.

27 April, 2006

A senior reminisces about his time at Spring Hill College

Note: This article was originally posted in The SpringHillian, a student-run newspaper at Spring Hill College. It ran in Volume 84 Issue 20.

I hate Spring Hill College.

I hate the pre-club drinking outside my dorm window every Thursday night my sophomore year.

I hate the cafeteria attempt­ing to give me vegetarian options by cooking random vegetables I've never heard of and ruining an otherwise good meal.

I hate the daily smoking out­side the front door of O'Leary that forced my windows closed on even the nicest of days. I hate the constant smell of marijuana in the halls of Murray that made me so sick that I had to hold my breath every time I used the restroom at 2 a.m., and I hate the ignorance of fellow students on matters of very great import.

I hate the petitions where most signers sign just because of the popularity of the guy/girl who is sitting behind the booth. I hate the prejudice that causes 95% of students to continuously avoid me even after four years at this godforsaken college.

I hate the elections of our joke of an SGA, the politics that govern the various groups of friends on campus, and the com­plete inability of what few people I do meet to comprehend (let alone appreciate) basic stances of morality such as pacifism and veganism.

But thankfully, none of that is what I pay my tuition for. I love my classes, especially the philos­ophy department. Dr.s Kobelja, Forstrom, and Morgan have repeatedly made me think about issues I'd never considered before, a feat well worth atten­tion.

Dr. Cyphert is the most pre­cise teacher I've ever seen, and though his classes are tough, once you've finished one of his courses, you realize that you've learned a lot.

Dr. Allin, whom I only had the chance to take a couple of classes with, introduced me to so much, including Stephen Jay Gould, for which I am eternally grateful. My literature classes broadened my horizons on the fiction front, and my history classes did the same for nonfiction. My sole writing class gave me the confidence I desperately needed in my writing skills; my theology classes taught me the lesson that there are a lot of peo­ple who can actually be intelli­gent and have faith in some ran­dom religion at the same time.

But classes are not all that I enjoyed during my stay here.

I love my friends, who all care for me for whom I am. I love the bookstore that constantly gave me a supply of new reading materials at the beginnmg of each semester. I love the new library, whose halls introduced me to so much that I would not have other­wise read.

I love the grass that gave me a place to read, and the old AB computer lab, that allowed me a chance to chat online while look­ing out at the golf course late in the evening.

I love the chapel, where I could wake at three in the morn­ing and play the piano, or just cry in the pews until I fell asleep and was woken early the next morn­ing by the sunlight.

I love Carpe Diem, and the attic above the chapel, and the golf course when the sprinklers are on early in the morning. I love staying overnight in the stu­dent center three years ago in order to sign up for housing, and playing video games on the big screen in the bio building until the cleaning crew came in.

I love Spring Hill College.

—Eric Herboso, '06