W. A. Hayden Schilling - Student Introduction

Michael J. Ruttinger
Former student of W. A. Hayden Schilling
2005 Outstanding Baccalaureate Colleges Professor of the Year

I have known our next honoree for more than four years and in at least that many capacities. I regret not having time to share them all, but this introduction will be a success if I can even begin to illustrate the impact that Hayden Schilling has had on his students in more than 40 years of teaching at the College of Wooster.

As a professor, he has taught several of my favorite and most interesting classes. It is a rare educator indeed who can create a fascinating, engaging course out of the social and architectural history of the English country house. I will venture to say that few, if any, professors could draw an hour of lively discussion out of the Palladian building style. That said, no other class had more impact on my choosing history as a major, and no professor has shown a greater breadth of knowledge or depth of passion for his interest. That's high praise for a class I once referred to in jest as "Coffee Table Books 101."

I was able to enjoy a slight role reversal when he served as my senior independent study adviser. For all his experience in British history, you see, Professor Schilling is an absolute landlubber when it comes to my personal interest, the British Royal Navy. However, my most insightful arguments into the history and memory of the mutiny on the Bounty are a result of his dedicated, indefatigable, scrutiny. Lack of knowledge never stopped him from forcing me to defend an argument, even a single sentence. Some advisers push their own ideas on their advisees, while others leave them stranded, refusing to read a draft until the project is finished. Working with Professor Schilling, I had a rudder, steering me in the right direction, forcing me to think more critically, and always pushing me to achieve a little more.

My Thursday afternoon meetings with Professor Schilling for my independent study were not just occasions to experience his knowledge, passion for teaching, and skill at interacting with his students. I enjoyed them just as much for his amiability and signature wit. It seemed appropriate that while I discussed the verbal abuse Captain Bligh poured upon his men, I took a similar dose of good natured sarcasm. "Michael," he would begin, "I like your project. It's you I don't care for." Of course, I, like all of his students, knew he was kidding. He demonstrates a concern for students that goes far beyond the call of duty. It is that concern, his levity and friendliness, combined with his scholarship and excellence in teaching and motivating students, that make Professor Schilling a beloved institution at the College of Wooster.

I am honored to introduce to you all, Professor Hayden Schilling.