3:06pm: Hotline with Dave Weekley

Hoppy’s Commentary for Thursday

"Ideal teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross, then having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own." — Nikos Kazantzakis, Greek writer/philosopher.

Tuesday night, WVU Political Science Professor Dr. Robert DiClerico delivered a lecture that was billed as “The Last Class.”   It wasn’t really, since DiClerico will continue to teach one class a semester.

But having a “final” class was a fitting way for the University to honor one of its most respected and significant professors, who is retiring after 40 years in the classroom. 

Yes, DiClerico did research and wrote books about United States politics and the Presidency, his specialty, but it was in the classroom, in front of students, where DiClerico defined his great contribution to WVU.

DiClerico’s classes were notoriously difficult, the stuff of legend around Woodburn Hall, yet students were drawn to them because they wanted to be challenged by the best.  An “A” out of DiClerico could qualify as one of the most significant academic achievements of a student’s life.

Here are a couple of  recent comments students posted at the ratemyprofessor.com website about DiClerico and his classes:

“He is a genius… but is wonderful about putting things in terms that students can understand.”

“This is by far the most challenging, but rewarding class I have taken.”

John League, retired publisher of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail newspaper, remembers DiClerico’s classes as powerful, free-flowing discussions.

“He asked questions, and then politely and respectfully challenged your answers and views,” League said.  “He taught you how to be confident in your own opinion while respecting those views that may run contrary to your own.”

League described the experience as “a life lesson that went well beyond his political science courses.”

West Liberty University President Robin Capehart recalls the challenge of a DiClerico class.   

"I had Dr. DiClerico in 1973.  He was the best professor I ever had or have ever seen," Capehart said.  "He also gave me the only B I received my last three years of college!"

Over the years, DiClerico accumulated honors: West Virginia Professor of the Year, WVU Foundation Outstanding Teacher, Danforth Fellow.  Additionally, he served as the WVU Campus Representative of the Rhodes and Truman Scholarship Foundations. 

WVU’s most recent Truman Scholar, Ben Seebaugh, told the Daily Athenaeum, “I learned about DiClerico’s reputation long before I met him.  DiClerico not only teaches you, he enlightens you.”

The higher powers of human reason do not come easily.  Those intellectual fires must be stoked by capable teachers who artfully lead and challenge students toward discovery.  It’s hard work, for the student and the teacher.

As DiClerico reminded students Tuesday night during The Last Class, “Students shouldn’t be upset if professors demand a lot of them, as long as they’re convinced that the professor is working (just) as hard.”

DiClerico may have taught The Last Class, but because of his brilliance and his pedagogic skills, thousands of former students continue to feel his impact. 










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