Get to know Mercer University‘s faculty members a little better through our “Faculty Flashback” series. Some of our professors will be sharing personal and professional details of their lives in a Q&A as well as then-and-now photos from today and their college days.
Dr. Charlotte “Charlie” Thomas, professor of philosophy, director of the Great Books Program and co-director of the McDonald Center for America’s Founding Principles, has worked at Mercer since 1994. She earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Mercer and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in philosophy from Emory University.
1. What advice, related to life or college, would you offer students at Mercer now?
Develop your strengths, keep your eyes wide open to opportunity, and be ready to flex. The world needs good, thoughtful, skillful people, and Mercer is a pretty great place to become one.
2. What is something you wish you knew in college that you know now?
That nothing would turn out the way I thought it would, and that that’s a wonderful thing.
3. What made you want to join the team at Mercer?
I became me at Mercer. Getting invited back to join the faculty was a dream come true. I’ve had opportunities to leave over the years, but they’ve never really been tempting. The more you travel, the more you learn what a remarkable place Mercer really is. I continue to feel remarkably fortunate to be a Mercerian.
4. What do you love most about your work?
I love being able to adjust my courses and programs and plans to find new intersections between my knowledge/skills and my students’ interests. I’ve developed dozens of new courses and programs at Mercer, brought internationally recognized scholars to campus, taken Mercer students all over the world. As a faculty member, if you have a plan and can make it work, you can do almost anything at Mercer, and that is a remarkable and wonderful thing. I think my students have benefited from it, and I know I have.
5. What are some of the projects/accomplishments you’ve been most proud of in your career so far?
I love teaching in the Great Books Program — inviting Mercer students into a centuries-long tradition of conversation. I’ve also been so fortunate to work with Dr. Will Jordan to co-direct the McDonald Center for America’s Founding Principles. We’ve brought in some remarkable scholars over the years, and they have taught me so much. And, working with Mercer University Press to publish volumes of essays based on our conferences, as well as my recent book on Plato, has been wonderful. I think my very favorite thing, though, is taking students abroad as part of the philosophy and art study abroad program.
6. What is your favorite spot on Mercer’s campus?
I love the ginkgo tree near Knight Hall on the corner of College and Coleman, but the new little patio between Willingham and Newton is also very sweet.
7. What are some of your hobbies and interests outside of work?
I write songs and play in a band with Dr. Andy Silver (Page Morton Hunter Professor of English) and five other spectacularly talented musicians. We call ourselves blueskyblue. I travel as much as I can, especially in Greece, where I very much feel at home, but I have a lot of unfinished business in Asia. I fell in love with Cambodia and Vietnam a few years ago, and I’m itching to get back. I focused a lot on vegetable gardening during COVID-19, and I also adopted two Jack Russell terrier/Chihuahua rescue pandemic pups last spring.