Dr. Whalen “Absolutely Thrilled” to Be a New Part of Hillsdale College
Written by Victoria Barry
Smiling as always, Dr. Benedict Whalen welcomes me into his office. Before coming to Hillsdale this semester, he taught at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. However, from the beginning of his teaching career, he has “aspired to teach at a small liberal arts school.” His invitation to teach at Hillsdale College allowed him to finally realize this dream.
Dr. Whalen currently teaches Great Books, which he describes as a “delight,” and Renaissance British Literature. As a Renaissance scholar, he eagerly anticipates the opportunity to teach a 400 level Renaissance lyric poetry class this spring. Although he enjoys teaching these survey classes, Dr. Whalen particularly enjoys delving into Shakespeare and Dante when he gets the chance. His current Renaissance class recently studied Shakespeare’s King Lear and Twelfth Night. His Great Books class also read King Lear in addition to As You Like It and works by Hawthorne, Faulkner, Chaucer, and other classic authors.
The quality of Hillsdale students has deeply impressed Dr. Whalen. He comments on their “higher degree of thoughtfulness” and overall zeal for learning, which allows his classes to penetrate more deeply into the studied texts. After one of his lessons, a student eagerly rushed up to him proclaiming that he had to keep talking about Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Having encountered the book for the first time, this student desired to discuss the novel above and beyond what the class required of him. Dr. Whalen cherishes this moment because as a teacher, he wishes to foster such excitement for life’s “truly good things.”
Dr. Whalen has also formed many dear friendships with other faculty members. He discusses a “cordiality among the faculty” that extends beyond departmental borders. He has befriended not only his fellow English professors, but also professors from the other departments.
Dr. Whalen remarks how “absolutely thrilled” he is with his Hillsdale experience. The “richness of the small environment” offers, somewhat paradoxically, great diversity and something he calls a “familial” experience. The bonding that takes place amongst faculty members and between the faculty and students enriches not only their mutual studies, but their entire lives. After being here for only half a semester, Dr. Whalen already feels that Hillsdale is home.
Victoria Barry is a junior majoring in English with a minor in Classical Education. She participates in Hillsdale’s Catholic Society, volunteers at Mary Randall Preschool, and is the vice-president of the A.A. Milne Society.