Arlin Meyer of Valparaiso University served as the Program Director of the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts from 1992-2002. I was a postdoctoral fellow in this program from 2000-2002. My experience as a Lilly Fellow remains a deeply transformative moment in my professional life.
Everyone has an Arlin Meyer story. I have many–too many to mention here. I tell them often. In fact, I was just talking about him the other day while sitting at the dinner table with my wife and daughter.
Arlin passed away in February 2017. Here is what I wrote on Facebook in the wake of his death:
I am saddened to learn that Arlin Meyer, longtime Valparaiso University English prof and founding Program Director of the Lilly Fellows Program in Arts and Humanities, passed away today. My kids (one has gone off to Arlin’s alma mater, Calvin College) will always remember Arlin’s candy jar in the Linwood House. I will always remember him as a beloved mentor who taught me most of what I know about the world of church-related higher education. (And recommended me to Messiah College). I will never forget sitting in my Linwood House office with Arlin on the morning of 9-11-01 listening to the radio and trying to make sense of it all. RIP. My prayers are with Sharon and his family.
Here is a taste:
This hands-on administrative style extended well beyond his twelve years as dean of Christ College into his equally long tenure as the founding program director of the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts. In addition to having to build a national network of church-related colleges and universities, which now numbers around 100, Arlin selected, supported, and mentored scores of Lilly postdoctoral teaching fellows. Five such fellows were present at the colloquium this past Monday. And the book I mentioned that we were studying together was co-authored by a woman whom Arlin had recruited to serve on the board of the Lilly Fellows Program.
Like some of the undergraduates in Christ College, the postdoctoral teaching fellows were sometimes startled or intimidated by Arlin. More than one new Lilly Fellow suddenly discovered, on the summer day they were moving into their house in Valparaiso, Arlin Meyer standing in their as-yet unfurnished living room. Astonished of course, and expecting the worst—i.e., that Arlin had come over to inform them that their fellowship had been revoked—they soon became relieved and pleased to learn that Arlin had simply dropped in unannounced to help them move into their new home. He probably carried too many couches in his life. And too many other burdens better borne by others, as well.