Religion in

Professor Kurtis Schaeffer's Farewell Tour

June 16, 2005
University of Alabama

Although this was his last day, prior to taking up his new position at the University of Virginia, Prof. Schaeffer's day begins as it has since first coming to Tuscaloosa in the Fall of 2000: with an early morning instructional session, in the cool shade of the bodhi tree, during which students talk among themselves, allowing him the luxury of an uninterrupted communion with nature.

After another stimulating class he heads straight for a coffee. His "Venti, please," accompanied by his ever-present smile and enviably good posture, is well-known to the ladies at Starbucks.

After a short break it's back into the classroom for a seminar devoted to his own work on really old something-or-others written by that guy who wrote about that stuff. Prof. Schaeffer, who left behind a career in male modeling for the life of the scholar, is among west Alabama's the foremost experts on that guy.

Never one to sit on his--or anyone else's--laurels, Prof. Schaeffer is then off to the library with two of his most promising students, Melanie Williams and Christine Scott. Sadly, no one at the University of Alabama will ever again hear his delighted squeals of "Weeeeee" as he rides the elevator up to browse the book shelves.

Uh-oh, it's the lady in charge of inter-library loans! She's after Prof. Schaeffer for a few of his many overdue items. Lucky for him they're already packed safely into one of the seven hundred and eighteen moving boxes neatly stacked in his office, awaiting the University of Virginia's movers.

A little dizzy from all of the quick talking he had to do to avoid paying his library fines, it's time to recharge the batteries. "Venti please!"

On his way out of the library, Melanie pleads with Prof. Schaeffer for a little additional assistance on her essay. A quick smile for the camera--he's never too busy to strike a pose--and then he returns to enlightening the youth. "I before E, except after C, or was it D. Maybe T. But definitely not V. No, definitely not V," he tells her. Thanks, Prof. Schaeffer!

After a little grammar and a spelling lesson, there's nothing like a hot cup of joe. "Better make mine a Venti!"

Back at the Department's main office, Kim Davis--a summer student worker in the Department--sheds a salty tear, anticipating the forlorn silence that will surely follow the faint echoes of Prof. Schaeffer's last scanning job on the Department's photocopier. To help cheer Kim up, Prof. Schaeffer strikes a pose and smiles.

Time for lunch at the Cypress Inn with the main office staff. Front row, seated left to right: Kim Davis, unknown man in shorts and hiking boots, Betty Dickey, and Christine Scott. Back row: Prof. Schaeffer strikes a pose named "Blue Annals."

Prof. McCutcheon, far right, Chair of the Department, remarked on the tall stranger who joined them for post-lunch pictures. "He was nice, but a shoddy dresser." Prof. Kurtis "Zoolander" Schaeffer, standing at back, drawing deep from his repetoire of vogue poses--this one named "Squatting Lotus."

Although he has been called "wooden" and "one dimensional" by many of his reviewers, Prof. Schaeffer's absence will cast a large shadow on the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama.

Good luck in Virginia, Kurtis, Heather, Ruby, and Max!

In March 2006, Prof. Schaeffer returned for lunch and a lecture.

Thanks to Betty Dickey, Kim Davis, and Christine Scott for conspiring to make this day a memorable one.