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Hillsdale College hires Vis­iting Pro­fessor Patrick Timmis in the spring
Courtesy | Hillsdale College

This fall, Vis­iting Pro­fessor of English Patrick Timmis ’13 joined the ranks of Hillsdale alumni on the college faculty.

“It ended up being very prov­i­dential that they needed somebody to be here this year and teach,” Timmis said. “It’s a little bit surreal to be back here in a really good way.”

While pro­fessors of English Stephen Smith and Benedict Whalen are on sab­batical this semester, Hillsdale alumnus Timmis is filling in. After his grad­u­ation, Timmis earned a Master of Arts degree from the Uni­versity of Vir­ginia. In 2016, he grad­uated from Duke Uni­versity with a doc­torate in medieval and renais­sance studies, spe­cial­izing in 16th and 17th century English ref­or­mation lit­er­ature, though he said he also has an interest in the the­ology of St. Augustine.

Timmis said he remembers his time at Hillsdale fondly. Many of the pro­fessors he studied under are now his colleagues. 

“A couple of them have retired, but more than not are still here and still teaching me,” Timmis said. “They’ve just picked up right where they left off.”

He took classes from Smith, as well as pro­fessors of English David Whalen, Dwight Lindley, Patricia Bart, and Justin Jackson. He said Jackson taught the hardest course he ever took at Hillsdale, a one-credit honors seminar on St. Maximus the Confessor.

Timmis said coming back to Hillsdale as a teacher rather than a student has been a great expe­rience so far.

“I haven’t been back to campus a ton since grad­u­ation,” Timmis said. “I didn’t let myself want to come back to Hillsdale as a pro­fessor. I didn’t see it as a pos­si­bility because I do medieval and renais­sance lit­er­ature and Hillsdale has Bart, Jackson, Whalen, and Smith. Those are really big shoes to fill.”

Though Timmis said returning to Hillsdale as a pro­fessor is strange, Jackson described it as a natural transition.

“It’s a great joy to work with a former student,” Jackson said. “He can come to me to ask for advice, but seeing how he wants to do some­thing actually gives me perspective.”

The per­spective that former stu­dents bring to the table as pro­fessors is advan­ta­geous to all the faculty, Jackson said.

“Hillsdale College stu­dents just approach things dif­fer­ently than what I was used to,” Jackson said. “There is clearly a really nifty ped­a­gogical advantage if you were a student here coming back and teaching the students.”

Senior Seth Ramm said he has enjoyed Timmis’ teaching approach in his Renais­sance British Lit­er­ature class.

“He draws attention to important areas of the text while also pro­viding great, in depth context,” Ramm said. “His love for lit­er­ature is one of the best parts of the class. He’s always excited and invested during dis­cussion, which is very engaging.”

Some of Timmis’ favorite classes outside his department were Western Her­itage with Pro­fessor of History David Stewart, Renais­sance Philo­sophical Thought with Pro­fessor of History Matt Gaetano, and Advanced Writing with Dow Jour­nalism Program Director John J. Miller. 

Timmis worked on the Col­legian during his four years at Hillsdale and served as editor-in-chief his senior year in 2012 – 2013. He said the team that year was excellent, but had some fiery char­acters, including opinions editor Kate Bachelder Odell ’13 and news editor Caleb Whitmer ’14.

“We had a news editor who was bril­liant and tal­ented and opin­ionated,” Timmis said. “The opinions editor was one of the most tal­ented people on campus who now works on the edi­torial page of the Wall Street Journal.”

Timmis said this opin­ionated trio did not begin the year as friends.

“We would have knockdown dragouts every Wednesday night,” Timmis said. “But by about halfway through the year, the three of us were best friends.”

Looking at his past and future at Hillsdale, Timmis said he is delighted to have the oppor­tunity to return and teach.