Just as Aristotle emphasized ethics and strong leadership as necessary for communities to prosper, so does the politics department at Hillsdale College.
Associate Professor of Politics John W. Grant took over as chairman of the politics department this summer after teaching here since 2010. With prior administrative experience at the University of Dallas, Grant said he is enjoying his new role.
“I really like the students, I’ve got great colleagues, and I think we have a mission that is noble and good,” he said.
Tonight, Grant will deliver a lecture titled “Conserving Liberalism? The Conservative Debate on Liberalism and Foreign Policy” at 7 p.m. in Lane 236.
Grant has taught over 20 courses at Hillsdale, including American Foreign Policy and Modern Political Philosophy 1, as well as politics electives. He said he has enjoyed all the courses he has taught and is teaching, noting his War and Politics: Post World War II as especially enjoyable.
Senior and politics major Luke Grzywacz has taken several courses with Grant and appreciates the professor’s vibrant teaching style.
“He’s the greatest, and his ‘Grant Rants’ are also fantastic,” he said.
Grzywacz said that Grant’s commentary on modern politics that he weaves into the lesson on classic books helps develop his overall understanding of politics. Grzywacz has dubbed his discussion of modern politics as “Grant Rants.” The way he communicates with and lectures to students is special, he said. He also likes to study under professors who connect current events to lectures.
Although Grant is extremely intelligent, Grzywacz said, a quality his lectures make obvious, his teaching style and demeanor make him very approachable.
“He’s a great choice to be politics chair,” he said. “He’s very friendly and approachable, and I’m sure that carries over to his colleagues.”
Grant said that in 20 years of teaching, he has seen some big changes in his students and their needs. Earlier in his career, students were more spirited. Now, he said, students are more agreeable and friendly.
“You’re supposed to get along,” he said. “Here, I like the civility, I like the friendliness.”
And they are a busy group as well. Unlike even 10 years ago, Grant said, students often ask for letters of recommendation for summer internships, whereas they used to ask solely for graduate schools. The emphasis on finding an internship and involving oneself in campus in so many different ways is new.
“When I was in school, I don’t think I was as stressed as a contemporary student because I worked, studied, and socialized too, but I wasn’t planning my application for this, that, and the other thing,” he said. “And I didn’t know anybody else who was.”
Despite taking over as chairman, Grant manages to teach the same amount of classes: three per semester. But now he now also coordinates conversations between the administration and the rest of the department.
“That’s what I’ve experienced here with the deans and the provost,” Grant said. “They’re very collegial, and they want to talk through things to solve issues.”
His colleague, former Chair of the politics department Mickey Craig, said Grant is performing the job well.
“I’m very happy he was willing to take on the job,” Craig said. “I’m also very happy to be relieved from the responsibilities of the chair.”
Before coming to Hillsdale, Grant taught for 12 years and served as the dean of student life at the University of Dallas. Of his different roles, he said he prefers teaching far more than working in administration.
His role now, as politics professor and chairman, allows him to do both.