Newbold College of Higher Education, a Seventh-day Adventist College in Berkshire, England, has launched a new publishing venture, Newbold Academic Press. The press's first publication, released Saturday, March 28, was "Journeys to Wisdom: A Festschrift in Honour of Michael Pearson."
Dr. Michael Pearson has served Newbold College as a lecturer and administrator for 42 years, most recently as principal lecturer emeritus. He will retire at the end of Newbold's current term. Dr. Andreas Bochmann, Head of the MA in counseling program at Friedensau Adventist University in Germany and visiting lecturer of pastoral counseling at Newbold, conceived of the idea to honor Pearson in 2013.
"When Mike had announced his plans to retire at the end of 2013, I quickly inquired with the then principal (president) of Newbold whether any kind of recognition was planned after his 42 years of service at Newbold College," Bochmann said.
When Bochmann learned that nothing had been planned for Pearson's retirement beyond the usual “farewell” during the Christmas banquet, he started looking for alternative ways to celebrate Pearson's career. Bochmann discussed the matter with Pearson's wife Helen, and from their discussions, the idea of a festschrift was born. (A festschrift is a book honoring an academic on the occasion of a retirement or other significant life or academic milestone.)
Newbold College Principal John Baildam said that both the festschrift and Newbold Academic press were Bochmann's ideas. "[Bochmann] pestered me incessantly once I had been appointed principal until I set up a publications panel in the late fall of 2014 with Manfred Lemke (academic registrar) as chair," Baildam said.
When Baildam became Newbold's principal in May 2014, Bochmann suggested the press as a way to put Newbold on the map. "We found open ears for the suggestion to use this festschrift as an opening for a new line of books to be published under a brand new label 'Newbold Academic Press,'" Bochmann said.
Lemke, who was appointed academic registrar in September 2014, recounts conversations with Baildam about visions for the future of Newbold College.
"It must have been in one of these meetings that I shared an idea for Newbold College which still needs to be explored, but Andreas Bochmann's idea about NAP (of which I had no idea) fitted perfecly into that vision I depicted to John," Lemke said. Baildam asked Lemke to chair the Newbold Academic Press publication panel, and Lemke says, in a matter of moments, he went from trying to articulate a vision to seeing a major part of it realized.
In planning NAP's first publication, Pearson's family agreed with Bochmann that merely presenting Pearson with a collection of scholarly papers would be "a little dry and not really 'him,'” Bochmann said. "Thus we widened the scope and invited colleagues and friends to contribute whatever they liked in the fields Mike has been excelling in: philosophy, ethics, spirituality." Bochmann describes the result as "astounding."
"Journeys to Wisdom" features essays from twenty Adventist scholars and administrators from Europe and the United States, and, Bochmann says, has a very “Adventist” focus, which Bochmann says "is in line with Mike’s critical loyalty to the church."
Because of the project's Adventist flavor, the potential audience and list of potential publishers shrank. The editorial team (Bochmann, Jean-Claude Verrecchia and Manuela Casti Yeagley) discussed alternative ways to publish.
Says Baildam: "There are several more publications in the pipeline, but next on the press will be the conference proceedings from the current European Theology Teachers’ Conference." It was at that conference that Pearson was honored for his years of service. At the closing banquet of the European Theology Teachers Conference, Pearson was surprised by the unveiling of "Journeys to Wisdom."
Dr. Mike Pearson (left) with Principal John Baildam and the first copy of "Journeys to Wisdom."
Lemke adds, "Through these few months I discovered how it is to work with a team where everyone works at her or his best. I am grateful and honoured to be a part of this group."
And in terms of the impact of Newbold Academic's first publication, "Journeys to Wisdom" hit its first mark. "The very fact that Mike did not have a clue about the entire enterprise and was taken by utter surprise made the ceremony last night even more precious for all of us," Lemke said.
Many colleagues, students and friends have shared their well-wishes and thoughts for the occasion of Pearson's retirement on Newbold College's Facebook page.
Jared Wright is Managing Editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.