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Campus Class-Act: Professor David Proctor

This week, another of our nominated professors is featured. Professor Proctor is a Tufts alum, from undergraduate school, to graduate school, to his PhD. A devoted Jumbo, friendly, and knowledgeable, he is a lifelong Classicist and historian. Check out one of his courses in the Classics or History departments in the spring! 

Name: Professor David Proctor

Department: Classics Department Administrator, Classics, and History
Hometown: Chester, Massachusetts

What do you teach? History 53: Europe to 1815 in the Fall, History 54: Europe Since 1815 in the Spring, Classics 85: The Byzantines& their World and
Classics 86: The Women of Byzantium
How many years have you taught at Tufts? Since 1996
What’s your favorite aspect of Tufts? The students. Because every year I’m surprised by how much they know and how sophisticated their thinking is. It’s a pleasure to find some small way to help students grow intellectually and have a better understanding of the world around them.

Why are you passionate about what you teach? That’s something I’ve known I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid. I’ve always enjoyed history, European and Byzantine, because I’ve found it to be relevant and inspirational. In these periods, you have these extraordinary characters who have achieved amazing things, with a broad and lasting impact on society. There are so many inspirational stories and ideas shown within these individuals…they help us understand the world around us and can inspire us.
What’s your favorite aspect of teaching?  I think it’s the discussions with students, the interactions with students…when I can pose a question and they can make me rethink the way I’ve thought of a situation, it’s incredibly rewarding. When a student can really make you think, it means you’ve done a good job, and they have really engaged.

What were you like in college? Very shy…painfully shy, quiet, withdrawn. But someone who tried to be active in different things, like Debate Society, Ex College, Tufts Republican Club. I never thought I knew much of anything, but I found that when I went to graduate school that this was a good thing…to not assume you know much, to be willing to learn from people around you. And, to know there’s always something more to learn and understand.  

What was your favorite part of college?  (Laughs) Nerdy as this sounds, the classes. I went to a very small high school in western Massachusetts, so there was very little opportunity to explore. At Tufts there was a whole new world opened up to me, to study Byzantium and Armenia, which became the core of what I wanted to do academically and what I’ve done with the rest of my life.

What advice would you give to college students? I think your undergraduate experience is the one time in your life where you have a chance to sample everything, academically and to grow personally. Academically, the one chance you have to explore all different subjects and topics, a whole myriad of issues. This is the only kind of structured time you’ll have for that…some people say high school is the best time but college really is…to find out who you are as a person and have all these opportunities to grow.
Why do you like Boston as a city? I do like Boston. Because although it’s a large city, it has a small feel to it. All the different cultural activities, museums, the ballet, opera, and everything is so centrally located. Any random Friday night, you can do anything.
Who inspires you?  I think my parents, their dedication and the struggles they’ve had to overcome. At Tufts, there’s really been 3 faculty: Professor Marrone (PS: teaching in the History Department!), Professor Marcopoulous, and Professor DerManuelian. Those three from my time as an undergraduate, to my Masters, and PhD at Tufts. These were the 3 individuals who inspired me to keep moving forward and shaped the kind of teacher and scholar I am.
If you have had any wonderful, awesome, inspirational professors, please feel free to e-mail me their names so I can interview them in “Campus Class-Acts!” ([email protected]

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