The dream of every search committee is to hire a new colleague whose teaching is so outstanding, energy so indefatigable, and charisma so undeniable that his presence brings a new level of vigor to the entire program. This was the great good fortune that attended Colgate University’s hiring of Professor William C. Stull. Professor Stull came to Colgate’s Department of the Classics as a Visiting Assistant Professor in 2003 and began a tenure-track position in 2006. To call his performance stellar is significantly to understate the case. His department chair writes that “his tireless efforts at recruiting, training, and fostering the intellectual and personal growth of his students” have led to so marked an increase in enrollments that Classics has been awarded a new tenure-track position. Everyone in this room can appreciate what an extraordinary recognition of excellence such a new position represents today.
Professor Stull combines the elements that characterize the ideal teacher: academic rigor, delight in learning, breadth of knowledge, the ability to awaken intellectual curiosity, and that crucial quality that one student calls “an aura that generates great respect from his students.” His ability to inspire students is one of his most striking attributes. In her letter supporting Professor Stull’s nomination, a first-generation-in-college student wrote affectingly about how, with GPAs of only 1.9 and 2.2 in her first two semesters, she felt that she “did not belong or deserve to be at such a prestigious university.” Then she enrolled in Latin. The seven courses she took with Professor Stull “instilled in me a confidence that no other teacher in my life has ever been able to develop.” This student made the Dean’s list her senior year and is working towards an MA in Public Administration.
Professor Stull teaches a broad range of courses, from both languages at all levels through his new course on “The Epic Voice” (featuring Virgil, Ovid, Dante, and Milton), to a freshman seminar on judicial arrangements in Athens and Rome. In class evaluations, students repeatedly exclaim that he pushes them to the utmost of their abilities while simultaneously awakening their passion for learning and making them want to meet his exacting standards. As one said, “You can learn more in one hour with him than some students do in four years.” His language classes feature innovative assignments that move beyond translation to grapple with issues of genre and style; for instance, students reading Cicero’s Letters translate Samuel Johnson’s letter to the Earl of Chesterfield into Ciceronian Latin.
An elementary Latin student suggested that Professor Stull “may be the anthropomorphic embodiment of the Latin language.” A student from his senior seminar gave a more definite assessment: “Stull is always top-notch because he’s a god!” Accordingly, the SCS beseeches Professor Stull’s numen to accept our humble offering of the 2011 Award for Excellence in Teaching.