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Hillsdale College pro­fessors take classes with their col­leagues. | Wiki­media Commons

Provost David Whalen said he encourages pro­fessors to audit their col­leagues’ classes, just as Biology Pro­fessor Dan York has done this semester in taking Pho­tog­raphy II from Pho­tog­raphy Pro­fessor Doug Coon.

His encour­agement has worked — a handful of pro­fessors add extra hours in a classroom building to their schedules every semester, but they spend the time behind the desks rather than the lecterns.

“There are many reasons to encourage this, but perhaps most important is the need to cul­tivate a faculty instead of a pleasant but hap­hazard col­lection of iso­lated experts who occa­sionally bump into each other in a hallway,” Whalen said in an email. “By ‘a faculty,’ I mean a body of excellent teachers (and) scholars who have a largely common vision of the intel­lectual, moral, and spir­itual good of under­graduate edu­cation and who are intel­lec­tually alert and inter­ested in things beyond than their own expertise.”

This semester, Art Pro­fessor Barbara Bushey is taking Cal­culus, and she said she plans to take Cal­culus II next semester. Assistant Pro­fessor of Classics Laury Ward reg­is­tered for Beginning French I with French Pro­fessor Anne Theobald.

“It has been delightful to refresh my con­ver­sa­tional French through (Theobald’s) class, but the expe­rience has also enriched my teaching through my obser­va­tions of Dr. Theobald’s won­derful classroom pre­sen­ta­tions and my reflec­tions on my own time as a student,” Ward said in an email.

Theobald herself has taken six classes since coming to Hillsdale in the fall of 2015: Western Her­itage with History Pro­fessor Lucy Moye, France Since 1815 with History Pro­fessor Tom Conner, and four ballet classes with Holly Hobbs.

Like York’s return to pho­tog­raphy, Theobald signed up for her ballet classes because she wanted to return to dance.

While Theobald took France Since 1815 to sharpen her knowledge of French history (her spe­cialty is in 17th-century French lit­er­ature) and audited Western Her­itage to expe­rience a core class at Hillsdale, she wanted to observe both Moye’s and Conner’s teaching skills to improve her own.

“It was really valuable to observe Dr. Moye’s lec­tures as well as her inter­ac­tions with stu­dents. Since I teach in French, it’s a dif­ferent kind of exchange,” Theobald said in an email. “I wanted to take a class with Dr. Conner, to benefit both from his knowledge about French history and his teaching wisdom. He thought it would be the last time he would teach his class on France, so I jumped at the chance. That was a great expe­rience, too.”