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|PROFESSOR ROBERT WESTERFELHAUS
Department of Communication
Dr. Westerfelhaus pictured in Lublin, Poland
|Curiosity Didn't Kill This Cat|
|By Melissa McNeillie|
"Curiosity drives me to visit new places, read new books, see new films, and meet new people," said Robert Westerfelhaus, a communications professor at the College of Charleston.
Westerfelhaus' curiosity certainly shows through his actions and teaching methods at the College of Charleston. He is currently teaching in Lublin, Poland as a Fulbright Fellow for the 2009-2010 academic year at Uniwersytet Marii Curie-Sklodowskiej, but is extremely excited about what fall of 2010, back here at the College of Charleston, has to offer him.
"I am looking forward to teaching a section of honors Western Civilization in the fall of 2010, which will be the first time I have done so at the College of Charleston," he said. "I am also excited about teaching a first year experience public speaking class that is coupled with an introduction to German course."
As forward looking as Westerfelhaus seems, he claims to be quite reluctant about making predictions about what may be his next step, "because the future has a way of always surprising me."
This is very evident in how he came to be a professor at the College of Charleston. Robert Westerfelhaus, as a young teen, thought he would become a Catholic priest. He even contemplated joining a monastic order. "I think I would have made a good monk!" he said.
He was greatly attracted by the College of Charleston's scholar professional model, which he viewed as a nice balance between his own teaching and research interests. His dissertation and research, as of recent years, analyze sightings of the Virgin Mary and religious kitsch.
Westerfelhaus received his bachelor's degree in public relations from Ohio Dominican University. He then went on to earn his doctorate and master's degrees from Ohio University, where he received the honor of being named an Ohio Regents Scholar.
Westerfelahus says he has a passion for reading and that he reads anything ranging from autobiographies and biographies, contemporary and classic fiction, economics and history, philosophy and poetry, social science and theology. "I read ancient works and current bestsellers," he said.
"I usually read several books at a time. Currently, I am finishing Cervantes' 'Don Quixote,' and am about halfway through Gibbon's, 'The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.' I am also working my way through Dante's, 'Divine Comedy.' The next book I plan to read is Dostoyevsky's, 'The Brothers Karamazov,'" Westerfelhaus nonchalantly said.
As we spoke of his passion for reading, he quickly began to talk about his other passion, teaching abroad. For the past few years, Westerfelhaus has been teaching a Maymester course for the communication department with Dr. Celeste Lacroix.
"Dr. Westerfelhaus was such a great teacher to go abroad with! Not only did he make his class interesting, (Ethics in Communication) but he also was able to add so much insight into Germany's culture and history," said Haley Binder, a junior in corporate communications at the college.
Westerfelhaus enthusiastically speaks about the satisfaction he gets from exposing his students to "aspects of the art, culture, and history of the places we visit that they might otherwise miss. I think my doing so plays an important role in the education of students," he says.
On a more personal level, his guilty pleasure is eating the local cuisine while traveling abroad. He says he also enjoy seeing works of art in person.
"Dr. Westerfulhaus is such a great professor not only because he is passionate about his subject matter and can portray that in his lectures, but because he truly cares about his students," said Somers Maky, senior in corporate communications. "He is willing to spend time with students and help them understand theories more in depth as well as help them apply the theories to their lives."
"While challenging at times, the experience of living and teaching in Poland has been a positive one. I have learned a great deal about Polish art, education, history, language, literature, and philosophy," he said. "And, I have learned a great deal about myself as well."
With the highlights of Westerfelhaus' past few years being his Fulbright Fellowship and his studies and adventures in Europe, we can't begin to imagine what might be next for this ever-excelling professor. It is clear that he has been hit by the travel bug.
"I will return to the United States with many warm memories of my time in Poland, and with several friendships that I hope to maintain," he said.