This issue: Summer 2018

Tom Head: 41 Years

By Sean Patterson


f there is an operative word to describe Tom Head’s career at George Fox, it would have to be “first.” He was the school’s first study abroad director (1978), its first chair of what was then the Business and Economics Division (1990) and the first chair of the International Studies Program (2002). Additionally, when he was hired in 1971, he was the only business and economics professor on staff.

To say he’s witnessed change over the years would be an understatement, but it was one constant – the university’s commitment to the integration of faith and learning – that kept him coming back year after year. “George Fox is a place that encourages and supports this approach to learning in truly remarkable ways, so it has been a wonderful garden in which to grow.”

Head is retiring this summer after 41 years at the school – 47 if you count when he originally arrived. During his first six years at then-George Fox College, he took leaves of absence to teach at the University of Colorado and to pursue graduate studies at the University of California at Berkeley. He decided to commit to George Fox full time in 1977, drawn to an environment where, as he describes it, “the faculty, staff and students form a learning community that encourages being known, being faithful and flourishing together.”

As a Quaker with a passion for interfaith dialogue and the integration of religion and economics, Head’s favorite classes to teach were internationally oriented: Global Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Global Environment, International Studies Seminar, and the senior general education course Islam and the West. This passion was also reflected in his work with non-governmental organizations, including the Quaker Institute for the Future and the Quaker United Nations Office.

It comes as no surprise, then, that he has no plans to abandon those commitments now. “In many ways, my plans are to keep doing what I do,” he says. “I won’t be lecturing and grading and attending a lot of committee meetings, but all of the rest of my work will continue on. I love to learn, to read, to dialogue with others, to write and to serve. I have been active in Quaker organizations, nationally and internationally, and this, too, will continue to be a big part of my life.”

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