W. A. Hayden Schilling - Acceptance Speech

Outstanding Baccalaureate Colleges Professor of the Year National Winner
W. A. Hayden Schilling
Robert Critchfield Professor of English History
The College of Wooster

I want to thank the Carnegie Foundation for The Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education for the unexpected recognition that they have bestowed on me. Good teaching and service to an institution are often taken for granted and, when it is acknowledged in a context such as this, such recognition is indeed special. I know that I speak for all of this year's recipients in expressing our appreciation for the many courtesies that Dr. Lee Shulman, Mr. John Lippincott, and the CASE and Carnegie Foundation staffs have extended to us as well as to TIAA/CREF for hosting today's luncheon and to Phi Beta Kappa for hosting this evening's Congressional Reception at the Library of Congress.

In accepting this recognition, I owe a debt to many people, a number of whom are here today. First to my family — my wife Joan, our daughter Katherine Lindberg, and our son David – for their support and understanding throughout. I also want to thank Michael Ruttinger, a 2005 Wooster graduate and currently a first-year student at the University of Michigan School of Law, for his kind words of introduction today.

I owe a special debt as well to three current and past members of Wooster's administration: Donald W. Harward, who was vice president for academic affairs at Wooster from 1980-1989 before becoming the president of Bates College from 1989-2002; Henry J. Copeland, an early colleague in Wooster's history department who was subsequently elected Wooster's ninth president, and Wooster's current president, R. Stanton Hales. I thank them all for the very real friendship, encouragement and support that they have extended to me and my family. While it is not unknown for faculty and administrators to have occasional differences, even tenuous relationships at times, I could not have worked for and with three more supportive individuals, and I am deeply grateful to each.

Any recognition of this kind must also acknowledge the departmental and other colleagues with whom I have worked over four decades. Being a member of Wooster's Department of History has been a special privilege, and I have likewise valued my colleagues, both past and present, for their encouragement, support and collegiality over the years. The department's reputation for teaching excellence is a source of singular pride, and this afternoon's recognition could easily have gone to one of them.

I can say much the same for the long list of students with whom I have worked at Wooster. Students always keep you young and on your toes intellectually, and I take special pleasure in the number of them who have remained good friends long after graduation. To them, I express my appreciation for reminding me always why it is that one becomes and remains a teacher.

Finally, let me express my appreciation to The College of Wooster and the scores of members of that community who I cannot acknowledge here by name, some of whom joined me here today. An undergraduate college of the liberal arts and sciences is a particularly American institution and, for me, being a part of such an academic community has been a special privilege. Indeed, I cannot imagine a better place to be than Wooster. The college has always valued teaching and encouraged its faculty to test new ideas, to bring their scholarship into the classroom, and to introduce different ways of teaching. Whether in a small first-year seminar of 15 students, a survey course of 30, or the special experience of working one-to-one with individual juniors and seniors in Wooster's half-century-old required independent study program, the College's message has always been the same: teach students well, engage them in the process of becoming active learners, and help them to understand that learning is not a four-year interlude but rather a lifetime venture.

For all of the support that has come from individuals and from The College of Wooster, and for this special recognition this afternoon, I am deeply grateful.

Thank you.