Know Your Professor: Lowry Pei

February 24, 2015

Lowry Pei

Professor Pei recently won the Toby Sloane Award for Student Centeredness. We asked him a few questions!

Professor Pei teaches in the English department at Simmons. He recently won the Toby Sloane Award for Student Centeredness. This award is made possible by a generous gift from Carl Sloane, honoring his wife Toby, who is an active Simmons Trustee

What's your favorite class to teach?

Either English 107, the fiction writing class, or English 199, Approaches to Literature (a.k.a. spring training for English majors). Next fall I'm teaching an advanced fiction writing class which may turn out to be my new favorite.

What's your favorite book?

This is an impossible question, but here are a few of my ritual answers:

  • The Golden Apples, by Eudora Welty
  • Bleak House, by Charles Dickens
  • A Room of One’s Own, by Virginia Woolf
  • All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren

Fill in the blank: When I was in college, I ____

Hmm. Spent way too many hours studying? Was naïve and gullible? Made lifelong friends? Tried to write poetry because I hadn’t yet figured out that I was not a poet? All are true.

What's your favorite restaurant in Boston?

I think if price didn’t matter, I’d pick Craigie on Main, in Cambridge.

If you could travel to anywhere in the world right now, where would you go and why?

I would probably stay home, because I hate the process of getting off on a trip. However, if my wife – Vaughn Sills, formerly professor of photography at Simmons – got me to go somewhere far away, which she regularly does, I would probably enjoy it once I got there.

When I'm not teaching, I'm ____

Cooking, reading, writing, trying to make artworks with recorded sound, building stuff out of wood, watching the Red Sox.

Do you have a hidden talent?

Not carrying a cell phone.

Favorite quote?

In the pursuit of learning, every day something is acquired. 
In the pursuit of Tao, every day something is dropped. 

Less and less is done. 
Until non-action is achieved. 
When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.

The world is ruled by letting things take their course. 
It cannot be ruled by interfering.

Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, 48
Translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English

What song is your personal anthem?

How about Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life”? Miles Davis’s “All Blues”? “New Frontier” from Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly? Anything by Ray Charles or Charlie Parker? Another impossible question.

Fill in the blank: I love my students because_____

They show so much capacity to accept and care about each other. Because they care about their work, because they have hope and courage even on the days when they don’t feel like they have either one. Because they have love in their hearts for someone or something. Because they allow me to make a difference, or at least try; they give me a priceless opportunity to be my best self.

Fill in the blank: I love Simmons because_____

This college genuinely values teaching, and because in the end we do know it’s all about human relationships.

How does it feel to have won the Toby Sloane Award for Student Centeredness?

I feel as though I represent many faculty who work hard every day to do student-centered teaching. It’s wonderful to be publicly appreciated; at the same time, I feel the honor should be collective.