Faculty Profile – Dr. Eric Schmidt

Where are you from, and what brought you to Wesleyan?
“I’m from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Yes, that’s a real place. Though a bit bigger than Owensboro, it has a similar character—not too big, not too small. It wasn’t too much of an adjustment to move down here. I tell people I love bourbon, bluegrass and basketball, so it was probably fate that brought me to Kentucky in 2017.

”I chose to come to KWC because I gained so much from my time in undergrad at Hope College, a small liberal arts school much like KWC. I saw firsthand the impact small classes and passionate professors can make on a student’s future. In applying for jobs, I knew I wanted to carry on the tradition of a liberal arts education—KWC was a perfect match. While the liberal arts excel at character formation and the education of the whole person, the dynamic job environment of tomorrow is going to increasingly depend on flexible, classically educated individuals only the liberal arts tradition can produce.”

Why did you choose to teach political science?
“More than any other field, political science marries both the scientific and humanistic arts. Technical, scientific knowledge, as well as a sophisticated understanding of political philosophy, are required to understand and communicate the complexities and nuances of political and civic life. Further, I feel a strong sense of purpose in teaching politics and civics. The success of American politics depends on enlightened public discourse among a citizenry capable of prudence and interested in justice. It is my goal that any student taking my classes will exit better prepared to engage in discussions which elevate and strengthen our republic.

“Little in my childhood suggested I would become an academic except for the fact that, as early as elementary school, my mom used to call me the absent-minded professor.”

What do you enjoy most about teaching?
“It affords me the opportunity to introduce the greatest minds and ideas to young people and then watch them grow as people and scholars. While I pride myself on effectively teaching technical skills in social science research, watching someone find a passion, awaken to a sense of purpose, and grow into the person they are meant to be – those are the enduring human traits that make teachers love teaching.”

What is most challenging about teaching?
“The hardest part is the student who is apathetic or incurious. To some extent it is the professors’ responsibility to inspire and motivate, but that only goes so far if the student will not put forth effort. I know every student is capable of great things, so it is painful when they fail to rise to the challenge.

”Teaching during the pandemic is not ideal. The faculty bear much of the burden of the transition, and all of us care deeply about making sure our students get a top quality education. Yet we know our craft and will not shrink from the challenge to deliver content in new formats.”

How do you spend your leisure time?
“I like to be outdoors, fishing or hiking with my wife and my dog. I enjoy weightlifting, playing sports, bluegrass and the arts. And when I have time, I also love playing video games and reading for fun. The perfect vacation would be on a lake full of big bass.”

Favorite book?
“The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Favorite movie?
“The Searchers,” directed by John Ford.

Ideal dinner guests?
“I would like to get Socrates, Plato and Aristotle in a room and listen to them argue with each other.”

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
“This past July, I married a Wesleyan alumna and Owensboro native Avery Keller. She graduated from KWC in 2016 and from UK with a Pharm.D. in 2020. She’s looking for work in town now. We feel so blessed to be starting our lives together in Owensboro. It’s a beautiful city with a bright future and a great place to raise a family. I’m proud to call it home.”