History professor Laura Hilton reflects on why teaching at Muskingum is so rewarding

We asked Dr. Laura Hilton, Professor of History, to answer this question: What drew you as a faculty member to Muskingum, and what are the most rewarding parts of your job? Below, she shares her thoughts.

Dr. Laura Hilton, Professor of History

Dr. Laura Hilton, Professor of History

At the beginning of last semester, a graduating senior stopped me in Cambridge Hall. Larry explained that he still thought about what he’d learned in my World History survey class that he’d taken his freshmen year and thanked me for bringing passion to what I teach and for setting high expectations.  He said it had helped prepare him for classes in subsequent semesters.

This quick conversation encapsulates why, in 2001, when I was applying for faculty positions, Muskingum appealed to me.  As a liberal arts institution, it is strongly grounded in the belief that learning critical thinking skills across a wide variety of disciplines is the best training for a lifetime of learning and working.  It has a sense of good-natured and supportive community that is real.  Lastly, the compact size of the student body affords opportunities to connect and work with students in many ways.

As I reflect on the past thirteen years, the reasons that Muskingum appealed to me then are even stronger now. In the difficult economic climate of the past several years, it’s apparent that Muskingum provides students with key written and oral communication skills that lead to success in obtaining employment.  In addition, the opportunities Muskingum provides for students to develop leadership and organizational skills through student organizations, athletics, the arts, internships, involvement in faculty research, and Greek Life better prepare them for the challenges that lie ahead.

The sense of community is real; it’s virtually impossible to cross campus without running into a student from a current semester’s or previous semester’s classes.  I truly enjoy hearing about their latest accomplishments, struggles, and experiences.

Our mission statement talks about the importance of developing “whole persons.”  This is a fundamental part of who we are and what we do well.  We push students to be multi-dimensional, to discover their boundaries, and find ways to overcome them.  One of the greatest joys in my job is watching a student grow over the course of four years, an observation that would be nearly impossible to make at a larger institution, where consistent contact with students is rarer.

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