Imagine a college professor who confesses he may not have anything to teach his students.
Next, imagine that same professor being named a college’s Professor of the Year. Then apply both of those statements to Presbyterian College professor of history Dr. Roy Campbell and develop a deeper understanding of what it means to teach and learn in an innovative liberal arts experience.
PC’s 2021 Professor of the Year said he sees himself more as a facilitator or knowledge than a wellspring of the same.
“There is probably a lot more psychology in my teaching than pedagogy,” he said, “as I realized early on in my career the importance of trying to understand your students and where they are coming from.”
Campbell said understanding and relating to his students allows him to engage them in critical inquiry and discovery.
“As I tell my students, I don’t necessarily have anything to teach them,” he said. “Rather, I simply try to tap into their raw intellect by challenging them to think about topics in ways they might otherwise not, to ask challenging questions, and go beyond a superficial acquisition of information. This hopefully leads to true intellectual growth, which is the ultimate goal of the liberal arts and why we are all here at PC.”
College provost Dr. Don Raber agreed.
“Teaching is the core of the PC experience, and the connections between faculty and students are critical to making a mission a reality each and every day on campus,” he said. “The work faculty do in the classroom, as well as the efforts faculty demonstrate outside the classroom as mentors, advisors, and guides, shape in profound ways the success of our students and their ability to be servant leaders in their communities after they leave PC.”
As a paragon of those principles, Campbell is an “outstanding” choice for PC Professor of the Year, Raber said.
“Since his arrival on campus in 2002, he has consistently demonstrated an exceptional ability to connect with students and to bring history to life — not only in his classes but also throughout the numerous travel opportunities around the world he has led and provided over two decades.
“There is a good reason students have recognized him many times as ‘Mr. Blue Hose’ — his dedication to his students is matched only by his care for his craft. He has also been a leader outside the classroom, not only within his department but in numerous campus service opportunities. He has epitomized our motto — while we live, we serve — and he is eminently deserving of this recognition.”
Recognized earlier this spring with an Excellence in Teaching Award from the S.C. Independent Colleges and Universities, Campbell will have the honor of addressing PC’s graduating seniors during commencement ceremonies on May 15.
Campbell said he enjoys building a rapport with students — getting to know them as scholars, athletes, performers, and fellow world travelers.
“PC students are truly remarkable,” he said. “Really, during the past 19 years, every day has been a privilege and an honor, and that is because I get to spend my days surrounded by curious, conscientious and compassionate students. I enjoy getting to know them both inside and outside of the classroom, learning about their families and backgrounds, and having the opportunity to see them compete and perform in various capacities around campus.
“Perhaps the greatest interactions I’ve had with students have occurred on study-abroad trips, where I’ve had the opportunity to see and experience some of my favorite locations, like Istanbul, Turkey or the South Pacific islands of Vanuatu, through their eyes. I don’t at all see my PC students through the traditional lens of the student-faculty dichotomy. Instead, I see them as partners in the pursuit of knowledge, and have been fortunate to develop meaningful and lasting friendships with so many of my former students.”
Campbell also enjoys the relationships he has built with colleagues — inside and outside his own department. He has team-taught classes with English professor Dr. Dean Thompson; traveled abroad with fellow professors in biology, chemistry, education, English, political science, and psychology; and enjoyed lasting friendships and partnerships with his peers in history.
“In terms of the history department,” he said, “we have built a highly successful and nationally recognized program, and I could not imagine having better colleagues than Drs. (William) Harris, (Rick) Heiser, (Michael) Nelson, (Jacklyn) Sumner, and (Stefan) Wiecki.”
A relationship with the college, too, has been vitally important to Campbell’s career, he said.
“PC’s commitment to the liberal arts has been unwavering since I joined the faculty in 2002, which is demonstrated not simply in the success of the graduates we produce, but in the fact that they leave PC globally aware and civic-minded,” he said. “They have been my absolute joy during my 19 years of service. They inspire me each and every day, and through their good spirit, curiosity, and passion for learning, help me to be a better professor than I otherwise would be. Truly, I can’t imagine being in a better place than PC, as each day is its own reward.”
Campbell also has distinguished himself as a scholar and educator in the field of global studies — notably in his service as director of the college’s Chinese studies program and through his involvement to help establish the college’s relationship with Guizhou University in China and the PC Confucius Institute. He has led nearly two dozen student and alumni trips abroad and has held several leadership positions on the college faculty, including chair of the history department, membership on the Senior Faculty Council, and service as the faculty athletic coordinator and vice-chair of the Faculty Senate.
A graduate of Wingate University and Florida State University, Campbell is married to Suzette Marques Campbell, a fellow educator who teaches at Camperdown Academy in Greenville. They have two sons, Dakota (16) and Skye (14), who both attend Eastside High School in Taylors.