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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.”