Office Treasures: Bow Down to Me

Their CVs tell one story, but the things professors surround themselves with tell another
Bea Rogers
Bea Rogers and her daughter’s warning sign. Photo: Alonso Nichols
June 15, 2011

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In the second of a series, we visit the office of Beatrice Lorge Rogers, professor of economics and food policy at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and director of the Food Policy and Applied Nutrition Program.

Back when Bea Rogers was teaching economics and food policy on the Medford/Somerville campus in the late 1980s, there would be days when her daughter, Leah, didn’t have school. So she’d bring the six-year-old to class, where the child would dutifully sit in the back of the room. Sometimes Leah, now 28, would stay in her mother’s office, coloring with markers.

On one such occasion, Leah drew a sign, complete with skull and crossbones. It read: “Bow Down to Me … I am the teacher, and you are nothing but sea scum. Bow down to me. I can FLUNK you!” Along the bottom was a large X, with her mother’s “signature.” Rogers was amused, recognizing in the “sea scum” a family expression for something worthless. She enjoyed the drawing, but eventually stuck it in a drawer and forgot about it.

Some 20 years later, Rogers was clearing out her office to get ready to move to the Friedman School’s new digs on the Boston campus when she came across Leah’s sign.

“I’m cleaning out my desk drawers and out pops this picture,” she says. “I couldn’t resist putting it up in my new office—I wasn’t going to throw it away.” Now it’s ensconced on a shelf that visitors can see as they enter. “Every once in a while somebody notices it,” Rogers says. When students come in and do a double take, Rogers tells them it represents her educational philosophy. “I hope they know I’m joking,” she says.

Leah is amused by this artifact from her childhood. “I didn’t raise a child without a sense of humor,” says Rogers.

Rogers says it reminds her of her own childhood, when her mother was teaching high school in New York City. Rogers particularly remembers sixth grade.  There was an entire month when Rogers was finished with school and her mother was teaching. She came to school with her mother every day and sat in the back of a business class, where students were learning how to touch type. Rogers followed along and learned, too.

Marjorie Howard can be reached at marjorie.howard@tufts.edu.