Professor Spotlight: William Falla

Photo features Dr. Falla, a man with gray hair wearing a maroon sweatshirt with a background of brightly colored books.

Brooke Santy

Dr. Falla sitting in his office in Reeves library.

Dr. Falla is an adjunct professor in the theology department at Moravian College. He received his doctorate in theology and ministry from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, his masters of divinity from the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, his master’s in geology from the Pennsylvania State University, and his bachelor’s in chemistry from Harpur College in Binghamton, New York.

What inspired you to go into your field of study?

It was a long and tortuous route. I started out to be a chemist and got my degree in geology. From there, I decided to go into ministry as a conversion kind of thing. Then, I was ordained as a minister, and in my study, one of my professors urged me to continue to go onto graduate work. I really felt that’s what I was being led to do. My academic career is quite complex.

What research are you currently working on?    

One of the people that I studied was a fellow by the name of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. I’m currently researching some of the aesthetics of his thought. That’s where my research is right now, but often it gets slid aside because of my teaching, and teaching comes first.

What do you think is the most recent/important development in your field of study?

I think one of the most interesting ones and one of the most current ones within theology is the relationship between science and religion. In religion, there are a lot of things going on in society that affect it. You have a couple different ways of looking at the world, and how does one reconcile those? Do you throw one out and keep the other? There are any number of ways you can do it. One could ask, “Who do I trust more? How do we solve problems?” Religion solves problems and science solves problems, but who do you lean on to solve those problems? Who becomes the “go-to” source? So, I would say the relationship between religion and science is a hot topic in society today.

What job would you have if you couldn’t be a professor, regardless of salary and job outcome?

I love the outdoors, so I would love something, could be anything, that was outdoors. I suspect one of the things I would love to do if I wasn’t a professor would be in some form of agriculture. I garden. When I was young, one of the things I always wanted to be, for who knows what reason, was a sheep farmer in Montana. I never had sheep and I don’t know why I picked Montana, but that was always something I thought, “Oh, that’d be great to do.”

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were in college?

Just about everything. So much of what you learn comes from experience. When you’re 18 and 22, you’re just beginning to get a whole lot of experience, and there are so many people along the way who we either intentionally or unintentionally learned from. We learn from our mistakes. I especially learned a lot about both physical and emotional perseverance from athletics. It also taught me how to lose, how to cope with loss.

What is your biggest student pet peeve?

I don’t really have one. You have your ups and downs with students, but there’s nothing real bothersome. I was a minister in a church for many years, so I dealt with a lot of people. One of the things that ministry teaches you is that there are many different kinds of people that you have to deal with, and you have to learn to accept them for who they are. People are who they are. People are people, and that’s just the way it is.

What was the last streaming show that you binge-watched or the last good book that you read?

I really love all the J.R.R. Tolkien books, especially all the Lord of the Rings series. I also love the movies based off of these books so much so that I use the movies all the time in some of my classes.

What is something interesting about you that most people don’t know?

I suspect the fact that I was a coach for 20 years for both cross country and track at the high school and collegiate levels. I’ve also coached women’s volleyball.

What’s your spirit animal?

I’m not quite sure what that would be. There’s a lot of animals to pick from.

What do you love most about Moravian?

I really like the students and the feel of the College.

What do you consider to be the greatest achievement in life?

That’s just not something I think about. I could say none of them are great or all of them are great. I can’t really rank one thing over the other.