Bob ’72 and Barbara Hiles ’72 Mesle, Graceland professors who have shaped decades of students and colleagues, are graduating along with the May 2016 class. They’ll be forever remembered and loved, and here are just a few of the thoughts shared for this reason in the Facebook group created in their honor.
Rich Brown ’95
Barb Mesle sparked my love for British literature and Shakespeare, and she had a hand in my life’s journey as being one of the national leaders in the field of devising new theatre. Because of Graceland’s intimate setting, connections between faculty and students leads to interdisciplinary, experiential learning. Gary Heisserer connected me to Barb Mesle, who connected me to her brother, Jeff, whose story helped us create a new piece of theatre titled, “Faces,” in 1993 from an idea – the essence of Devised Theatre. It’s connections that make Graceland a great cooperative learning environment.
Jenn Killpack ’96
Living, loving and teaching with hearts wide open. Always willing to ask hard questions and really listen to the response. Pushing and stretching the limits of an 18-year-old brain. Letting this now 41-year-old brain come and sit on the deck to be pushed and stretched and loved a little more. So deeply and reverently thankful. Then. Now. Forever.
Karolyn Sharp ’06
Barb Mesle introduced me to Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Lord Byron and Shakespeare. It’s not that I hadn’t read them before, but Barb’s passion – her insight – made reading them new, different and revelatory. She was an inspiring, compassionate instructor, mentor and friend with one huge failing: she never gave me the words or the capacity to describe what she has meant to me and to so many of my peers. Shame on her!
Sydney Brock ’15
I cannot imagine my “Graceland Experience” without you two. From day one in Barb’s class to the last day of my undergraduate career in Bob’s, I am SO grateful I get to call you MY teachers. You two taught me how to think in a way that I don’t believe I would have had to otherwise: calling into question my beliefs, biases and challenging me to find ways to support them while also being open to changing them. I love you two so much!
Karyn Wingard Manuel ’02
Barb, I still underline beautiful prose in my novels with pencil and then repeat them out loud to myself. Bob, I still ask “Is it good for our children?” when faced with tough ethical and moral questions. Your beauty and love for life is infectious — it caused you both to do tough and courageous things, like fight for LGBT rights before it was easy and obvious, and push students and staff without apology to pick apart their bricked walls of understanding.
Martha J. Hart, Professor of Music
You may be retiring from Graceland, but you will continue teaching all of us in the ways of caring for each other and making the world a kinder, gentler and more thoughtful place. Thank you for inspiring and challenging students, colleagues, family and friends to be better human beings. I love you and am so grateful to have your love in my life.
Angel Velitchkov ’01
Formal Logic, Informal Logic, Venn Diagrams, Medical Ethics, “Regular” Ethics, Honors seminars and trips, discussions, presentations, Suffering and Meaning (an “about” class, not a “how to”) undoubtedly have brainwashed me – some might say beyond repair – but I’d rather have my brain be washed and processing ideas than be dirty with ignorance and in the dark.
Emily Joy Hartford ’08
You taught me to write well, to question often and not always need an answer, and to always, always be learning. You taught me to see the world through different perspectives and to understand that, while my own was valid, it was not always the most important or true. You taught me to love life. To find joy in the simplest of things. To love chocolate and to see food as an adventure. To surround myself with the kind of people I wanted to be… I am forever grateful.
Shandra Newcom ’90
I was welcomed into their home and family and learned to sing my dreams boldly by watching them sing theirs. Barb has given me poem and song, and Bob has given me question and possibility. I am deeply, deeply honored to know them both.
Michael Morain ’01
One of the many, many things I love about you, Bob and Barb, is how easy it is to lump your names together, like a Dr. Seuss character: Bobandbarb or Barbandbob. Both of you are impressive individuals, of course, but you fit so well together that you might as well share a name.
Mike Seagraves ’94
Ruth and I have been members of the Barbara and Bob Mesle Fan Club since we first met them in the early 90s. Not too long ago, when we were back in Lamoni for the holidays, Bob and Barb were working the Caroling and Cakes event in the commons, serving pancakes and smiles to the study-worn students preparing for finals. Bob was armed with a spatula. Like they were teenagers, Bob lovingly smacked Barb’s backside with the spatula and kept serving the cakes. Classic.