Former student of Michael Wesch
Outstanding Doctoral and Research Universities Professor of the Year
Willard Intercontinental Washington Hotel
Nov. 20, 2008
I am so incredibly honored to be here to introduce Dr. Wesch on such a momentous occasion. I met Dr. Wesch in the spring semester of 2005 after enrolling in his course, “Religion and Culture.”
He doesn't know this, but I didn't actually want to take the class from him. I had just returned from a semester abroad in Spain, and I had eagerly anticipated taking the course from another professor, who had been teaching it for several years. As it turns out, while I was away that professor retired and the department hired Dr. Wesch. I was pretty disappointed by the news and pretty skeptical that this new professor I'd never heard of could do the job.
Not only was I wrong in my skepticism, but it turned out that taking the course from Dr. Wesch drastically altered the trajectory of my life. It was the best class I ever took and set me on a quest to discover why. Dr. Wesch showed me that teaching and learning is all about asking good questions, not finding answers. From the day that class ended to this day, I have stayed close by, learning from him how to ask—and how to inspire others to ask—just such questions.
Dr. Wesch is a truly amazing and innovative teacher. He has an innate ability to inspire and to motivate. But what sets him apart is the way he genuinely lives his life. One of his core teachings to introductory students in anthropology is a set of three pillars that holds up the discipline: empathy, thoughtfulness and communication.
While it is somewhat unique that he spends time teaching these human values to 400 students a semester, it is absolutely extraordinary that he so fully embodies these values in the way he lives his life.
It is a privilege to be here to introduce Dr. Wesch and to repeat a statement I have often made about this man who has had such an indelible impact on my life: If in my life I manage to profoundly affect as many people as I watch Dr. Wesch affect in a single semester, I will consider it a life well lived.
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