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Eric Hutchinson is an asso­ciate pro­fessor of Classics.
Courtesy | Hillsdale College

“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.”