Two new faculty members joined the science faculty this semester: Dr. Vincenzo Antignani and Dr. Aric Blumer. Both are new to teaching at BJU this year but are looking forward to what God has for them here at the University.
For Dr. Vincenzo Antignani, who teaches in the biology department, one of the most enjoyable parts of teaching is preparing the lectures. “Every time you go through your book, you learn something new,” he said. He likes to point out details in his teaching, likening learning to assembling a puzzle — in order to put together the whole picture, you have to know the small pieces. Teaching students to place the details in the right place, he says, “is really fulfilling.”
He enjoys interacting with his students during his office hours and often invites them over to his office for a cup of Italian coffee. He appreciates the common background of faith that allows friendships with students to become mentorships. He also enjoys the encouraging and discipling relationships he has established with his new colleagues.
Antignani was raised in a Catholic family in Italy. Although he went through the basic steps of Catholicism, he still had deep questions that no one could seem to answer. He became frustrated and stepped out of the Catholic faith at the age of 17.
“I was basically running my life by myself,” he said. “I was trying to be a nice person, a moral person, but everything was basically [centered] around me.”
At 27, he began his Ph.D. program and came to the U.S. to work at Virginia Tech University as part of his education. There he met a Christian who began asking him questions about his spiritual background and beliefs, and he shared his doubts and criticism of the Catholic faith.
The Christian friend showed him how the Bible could address all of his questions. They began to study the Bible together, starting with the Gospel of John, and from John 1, Antignani became aware of his need for Christ and accepted Him as his savior.
“It was like turning the light on in a dark room,” Antignani said.
After spending some time at Virginia Tech, he returned to Italy to defend his Ph.D., got his degree and came back to the U.S. to finish research in Virginia. Wrapping up his research at Virginia Tech, he found a position at the University of Michigan, where he stayed for two years. And those two years proved to be crucial in understanding God’s direction for his life.
His desire was to be in research, but he struggled with the fact that the other scientists did not understand his Christian faith. It was through these struggles that God called him to teach.
“I felt the commitment of sharing with others what I knew, rather than using my understanding and knowledge to run my own career,” Antignani said.
After discerning God’s call to teach, he began looking for a teaching position at a Christian university. He made a long list of Christian schools, and one of them happened to be Bob Jones University, which had openings in plant and organismal biology. Antignani began his teaching career at BJU this September, with General Biology Lab and Organismal Biology.
Dr. Aric Blumer, who joined BJU’s physics and engineering faculty this year, said his favorite part of teaching so far has been seeing his students succeed. He also enjoys teaching students about computer language in his computer systems class. He first became interested in computers when he was a teenager, and computer language hasn’t changed since, he said.
Blumer has found a special way to use engineering to point his students to God. “In engineering we have a unique position, because God is the great designer,” he said. “He is the ultimate engineer, and when we as Christians design things, we are mimicking Him.”
Blumer grew up as the youngest of four children in a Christian family. “As I grew up,” he said, “the danger was that I would assume that I was always a Christian.”
Like many people, he struggled with knowing whether he was saved or not. His mother told him that he had been saved when he was 8 years old, but he didn’t really remember it. Then he realized that, while there may have been a time and place where he first trusted the Lord, the real question was “What am I doing now?”
“Am I believing?” he asked himself. “Am I trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross for my sins?” He concluded that the answer was “yes,” and gained assurance of salvation.
When it came time for him to go to college, he followed his older siblings, who had all attended BJU. “It was almost a given for me,” he said. “I didn’t even consider anywhere else.”
So, from 1988 to 1992, he studied physics and engineering at BJU. Then he went on to Clemson University for a master’s degree in computer engineering.
“Even back at that point, I had an interest in teaching at the college level,” Blumer said, “and my interest was really only for teaching here at BJU.”
Keeping this in mind, he finished his master’s and took an engineering job in Pennsylvania, where he stayed for 10 years. He got married during that time, and once he and his wife began having children, he realized that if he was ever going to teach at the college level, he would have to get his doctoral degree.
“I figured that if I didn’t do it then, I never would,” Blumer said. So in 2004, he quit his job and went to Virginia Tech University to earn his doctorate. In 2007, he graduated and went back to work.
In the meantime, however, Blumer had kept in contact with Dr. Bill Lovegrove, the head of the physics and engineering department at BJU, who informed him the University might have some openings in a few years because of retirements. This year, that door was opened to him, and he began to teach at BJU this fall.