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New professor of classics jazzes up Greek classes

Nov. 19, 2004

By JANICE MARIE FERGUSON, reporter

Tucked away in the hustle and bustle of Cashion Academic Center, Baylor students are getting a dose of classical Greek from one of the classic department's newest faculty additions.

"I like a class to be focused, but also comfortable," Dr. Kevin Hawthorne, assistant professor of classics, said.

In Hawthorne's introductory Greek course, the atmosphere is casual. There's an occasional outburst of muffled laughter resulting from one of his wry remarks. Students are welcome to chime in at any point to ask questions.

Hawthorne
"Exactly what part do you not understand about that?" and "What did you not know that you could do?" he asked students in response to their questions.

"He's a great teacher," Jeff Goodman, a San Angelo senior enrolled in the course, said. "He really cares that we understand the material."

Hawthorne moved freely in front of the class and even propped himself on the lectern area desk. His youthful appearance could easily disguise him as an average student. Hawthorne said he considers teaching as a sort of acting, and that is in contrast to his normally introverted personality.

"But it's a good thing," he said. Hawthorne is more concerned with the information he can share than what people think about him personally.

"I don't usually think about what I want people to know about me," he said.

Outside of his research areas, Hawthorne is passionate about music, and said he sometimes shares CDs with his students.

Dustin Straw, Houston sophomore and student of Hawthorne, said Hawthorne sometimes asks the class if they know of any new or good music. Some of Hawthorne's favorite genres are classical, Celtic and Scandinavian, and he said he has an extensive U2 collection.

Straw said Hawthorne doesn't follow a strict schedule during class, and he's always "ready to take the rabbit trail."

"He doesn't mind skipping around," Straw said. "He doesn't mind taking time out of class to go back over old material."

Hawthorne, who also teaches a section in Great Texts of the Honors Program, has an extensive background in classics and Greek drama, according to Dr. Alden Smith, classics department chairman and associate dean of the Honors College.

"He's a good teacher, and definitely beloved by his students," said Smith.

According to Smith, all of Hawthorne's spring classes are full. Smith also said Hawthorne sets high standards for his students.

Hawthorne is a native Texan who hails from Port Arthur - but his accent doesn't show it.

He attributes this to Port Arthur's relative isolation, and he said he has a tendency to use a "Canadian O" he picked up from a friend at the University of Chicago. He began his studies in classics because he wanted to read the original Greek version of the New Testament. He's studied Greek and Latin and is an expert in Sophocles, according to Smith. Hawthorne said he was attracted to Baylor by the 2012 vision, and is happy to be part of the classics department.

And according to Smith, Hawthorne is a great addition to the department.