“There’s a special kind of magic that can happen in a classroom.”
The classroom is the continuation of thousands of years of scholarly tradition, according to Associate Professor of Classics Eric Hutchinson. Hutchinson won the Emily Daugherty Award for Teaching Excellence at Convocation on April 7.
“We have a large faculty, full of talented people, and I consider it a really big honor to be selected for the award,” said Hutchinson. “It’s a really pleasant surprise.”
The Daugherty Award is given twice a year at the fall and spring convocations. The fall convocation Daugherty Award recognizes a faculty member who has yet to receive tenure, while the spring award recognizes a tenured faculty member. Both are chosen by professors.
“It’s a way for the professors to recognize excellence amongst their own colleagues,” Joseph Garnjobst, chairman and professor of classics said.
Hutchinson received his undergraduate degree from Hillsdale College under the guidance of retired classics professor David Jones.
“I didn’t even know what classics was before I started college,” Hutchinson said. “Dr. Jones’s teaching got me interested in classics. His class drew me in and it was impossible for me to study anything else. I can’t believe that I’m on the same list as him. It’s an incredible gift.”
Hutchinson said he enjoys teaching and watching students learn.
“Seeing what you can do in a classroom with a subject that you’re really passionate about — that love can be infectious,” Hutchinson said. “You get to see students come alive, and that is really gratifying and rewarding. There’s no tangible or monetary benefit, but it speaks to something deeply human that we love to see other people that love what we love.”
Hutchinson said he also enjoys teaching at the place that inspired him as a student.
“To go from being a student to being on the other side of it is really special,” Hutchinson said. “Hillsdale College is the place where I fell in love with what I do.
Garnjobst was one of Hutchinson’s former teachers.
“Even as a student, we recognized Dr. Hutchinson’s excellence,” Garnjobst said. “We realized that he was special even at the undergraduate level. What he brings to the classroom is a very infectious enthusiasm for the subject matter that he teaches.”
Garnjobst says that Hutchinson’s excellence has continued in his teaching career.
“It’s really no surprise that someone like Dr. Hutchinson has been recognized because of his hard work and his high standards both for himself and for his students,” Garnjobst said.
In addition to being a classics professor, Hutchinson became the Collegiate Scholars Program chairman in 2016.
“He works tirelessly for the Collegiate Scholars Program,” Garnjobst said. “He’s been working with students to bring their personality and their take on the Hillsdale experience together into their theses.”
Hutchinson particularly enjoys the program’s interdisciplinary nature.
“Being an interested person is not limited to strictly formal academic or classroom settings, but instead is a way of being in the world,” Hutchinson said. “Being able to do that with students and other colleagues here is really fun.”
Hutchinson’s recent classes include Latin and Greek language courses, as well as a course on Patristics.
“Dr. Hutchinson’s classes are always an hour of joy in the day,” junior Belle Murphy said. “I never wanted to miss his classes. They are so much fun, and we also get work done.”
Murphy said she enjoys Hutchinson’s teaching methods.
“People feel very comfortable to speak up and ask questions and share ideas with Dr. Hutchinson,” Murphy said. “He is very calm and kind and gets people to engage as peers.”
Neither Murphy nor Garnjobst were surprised that Hutchinson won the Daugherty Award.
“He deserves recognition,” Murphy said. “He is a professor that is not just liked, but loved.”