Hal Haskell, Mr. Homecoming
- Carlos Barron
Called a “classic example of a renaissance man,” Haskell has many interests beyond his own area of expertise, making him a model liberal arts professor. Another colleague says, “Classics is widely recognized as central to a viable liberal arts program, and Hal’s teaching has helped Southwestern’s standing as a liberal arts college more than any other’s.”
Haskell helped establish Sunoikisis, the national Classics collaborative program that now has its home at Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies. Through Sunoikisis, Southwestern students are able to participate in collaborative classes with professors and students from other schools, including Harvard, Washington & Lee, Rhodes, Princeton and more. They have also presented papers at the annual Sunoikisis Undergraduate Research Symposium in Washington, D.C.
One of Haskell’s Sunoikisis colleagues describes him as “Tall, because he is; generous to friends, family, colleagues and students; committed to the intellectual development of his students; tireless both in and out of the classroom (He is legendary among colleagues for his work ethic.); clear-sighted, recognizing the challenges that face our discipline and higher education in general; practical, even using geothermal energy to heat and cool his house; diplomatic, knowing when to push or concede; and genial, with a great sense of humor and always up for an adventure.”
Described by colleagues as a scholar, teacher, mentor, servant leader and friend, Haskell is universally admired by both faculty and students at Southwestern, as well as other universities. “Hal is dedicated to both the institution and its students,” one of his colleagues says. “He is also an international superstar in Greek and ancient studies; people know who he is. I want to be him when I grow up.”
Haskell finds the reward of teaching in the successful learning by his students, and has been known to say, “If I can make a difference for one student, then the semester has been a success.” By that, he means the student can absorb the material, critically evaluate and analyze it, and then draw independent conclusions which can inform actions, rather than simply adopting the professor’s ideas. Colleagues say that it is clear that Haskell has achieved that level of success many times over.
Beyond Southwestern, Haskell is active in his church. A fellow parishioner says, “Hal and his wife, Pam, are the authorities on the Greek language, the original language of many books of the Bible. Their recognized expertise keeps the priests (who studied Greek, but aren’t necessarily experts) on their toes, and provides the rest of us confidence in definitions, interpretation and meaning.”
The Association of Southwestern University Alumni is happy to present Professor of Classics Hal Haskell with the 2015 “Mr. Homecoming” Award, which is an honor bestowed upon a member of the Southwestern University faculty as a token of the affection and respect of former students.