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Faculty Focus: December 2019

December 3, 2019


In his 14th year at Fenwick, this instructor and former Friar hockey player has a passion for all things history.

What is your educational background?

GR: I attended Fenwick and graduated in the Class of 1995, the last all-male class at Fenwick. I went on to major in History and French at Loyola University-Chicago, attained my M.A. in Social Science from the University of Chicago, then a M.A.T. from Aquinas Institute of Theology in Saint Louis in my studies as a Dominican brother in formation.

What did you do prior to becoming a teacher at Fenwick?

GR: I taught for a year at Highland Park High School, then entered the Dominican Order intending to be solemnly professed and then ordained a priest. I suppose this question pertains to my professional life, but just in case it doesn't, I ate a Belgian waffle in Brussels, paraglided over the Swiss Alps, got married and have four kids now. N.B. That list is in no particular order of importance or chronology.

What are you currently reading for enjoyment?

GR: A lot of economics. I don't read a ton of fiction -- I find most of it to be drivel outside of the classics. At the moment, I'm reading Tom Woods' The Church and the Market (which every Catholic ought to read) and a book by Robert Lawson and Benjamin Powell called Socialism Sucks (because it really, really does).

What interests do you pursue outside of the classroom?

GR: Golf. And, when I'm not golfing, I'm thinking about golf and how to get my swing right should there be a hitch in it or something along those lines. TV streaming and listening to podcasts. It’s the golden age of both. Also, I blog, attend academic conferences, write papers --basically what historians should always be doing.

To what teams and/or clubs did you belong as a student?

GR: I played hockey all four years and baseball for two. I was the rector for the first co-ed Kairos in Fenwick history.

Which clubs/sports/activities do you run at Fenwick?

GR: Pro-Life Club (going to D.C. in 2020, baby!) and Model United Nations.

What quality/characteristic marks a Fenwick student?

GR: Bad question. I posit nothing marks a “Fenwick student” rather, God's image is somehow in some way sublimely present and reflected in unique ways in each person. His is the crucial mark.

When did you decide to become a teacher, and why did you choose this field?

GR: History is the most human of disciplines -- along with philosophy and theology. Forget the clichéd: “We learn history so as to not repeat our mistakes,” lines -- Santayana is as dead as that idea. No, at the core, history is the search for meaning. Without it, we are truly lost. It is not static, but dynamic. Often imprecise. Seldom determined. Always imperfect. Nuanced. Again, very human.

What personal strengths do you find especially helpful in your teaching?

GR: To be sure, I bring a lot of enthusiasm into instruction. And, I stay current with the latest interpretations, trends and works of scholars in the field. I challenge students, especially the bright and gifted ones who might have coasted a bit before they got to my class. Finally, I incentivize students to be creative, to think outside of the conventional, normative or acceptable bank of thought and opinion.

What are your favorite classes to teach?

GR: AP European History, AP United States History, Chicago History; I formed that curriculum and used to teach that over the summer, on-site.

What is the greatest success you have had in teaching?​

GR: Undoubtedly, it is seeing the greatest, most agile minds I have ever encountered in class become amazing historians themselves, then go on to pursue history as a major and beyond. Standouts include Charles Klingenberger, Dylan Gresik, Paul Cederoth, Ciara Mulcahy and current student Aimee Morrissey.

What challenges face students today?​

GR: Anxiety that arises from unrealistic expectations placed upon them. There are too many required classes, too many impingements on their time and freedom. It is so much better to study and work and produce in fields that are of personal interest and aptitude than to self-destruct attempting to be the better polymath than the polymath next to you. Such worry really excludes time for silence, the conduit through which God, His angels and His saints move our minds and hearts. 



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