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Coffee Break

Photo: Webb Chappell

Small Talk with Carolyn Hotchkiss

Carolyn Hotchkiss has two big passions. One is tai chi. Every Tuesday at noon, the law professor teaches faculty and staff the graceful exercise at Glavin Chapel. Hotchkiss also sings and plays guitar with her group, The Firehouse Band. “We needed a name, and we were across the street from a fire station at the time,” she says. At Babson since 1986, Hotchkiss serves as dean of faculty.

What’s new with the faculty?  We’re just beginning a substantial generational turnover. A lot of the people who I came in with are beginning to retire. In the next five or six years, we’re going to have a lot of change. That’s a cool challenge to shepherd that transition. You want to do this carefully. The new faculty will be here a long time.

Why do you like tai chi?  It’s calming. In this busy modern world, we do very little that is slow. And so here is something that is intentionally slow, and slowness is a virtue. I am able to do a lot of interesting physical things that I couldn’t do when I started. This morning I was up practicing toe and heel kicks. I learned my first tai-chi-sword form last summer.

Tai chi with a sword?  That takes it to a new level, doesn’t it? It’s not a sharpened sword, but if you hit somebody with it, it’s sharp. It’s plenty sharp. I bought the sword in Chinatown in Vancouver when I was on a trip. I went into this old, dusty shop. The owner had a lot of swords. He said, “You may have this sword, or you may have this sword, or you may have this sword.” So we tried the swords and he said, “This is the sword you should have.” My first trick was getting it across the border. They ran the box through the X-ray, and everybody had to go look at it. And then I got it to the airport in Seattle, and the TSA guys were very interested in making sure it was exactly what it was. They had to open it up and look at everything.

Tell us about the band.  I’m lucky to have this group of three friends that I play with. Every Wednesday night we practice, and we’ve practiced together for 20 years. Wednesday night is sacred. I think most people at Babson know that I don’t do Babson things on Wednesday nights. I get myself home in time for rehearsal.

What kind of music do you play?  It’s folkie Americana. We call it middle-age homeowner’s music. Pretty soon it’s going to be Social Security music. —John Crawford