Friday, December 17, 2010

Hunter College's Best Teacher Ever ~ Robert J. White

Nothing is more disappointing then revisiting a memory and finding out it's less then you remember.

Nothing is better than revisiting a memory that enhances that memory, builds on it and tells you everything you've told friends and family about a person and what they've meant in your life is more than true. I forgot half of the treasure I took away from my time as a student with Professor Robert J. White at Hunter College in the 1970s.

He taught me the classics and literature. Professor White is the coolest, smartest, funniest and warmest teacher I ever had and that goes all the way back to Mrs. Brown in P.S. 77's kindergarten in 1960.

There were 16,000 matriculating students at Hunter, we moved from class to class like cattle. Hard to make friends, most of us worked after school. But, if you were in a Professor White class something happened. Everybody felt it, we bonded, we talked to each other, he'd lead you through a subject with an intense quirky passion and you were compelled to go along, and you learned! Your interest grew, you wanted to please him, he cared too much for you to let him down.

My storytelling would be no where near as funny, clear or interesting without me knowing him. His detail was exquisite. He may be the funniest person I've ever met. My home life was chaotic during my time at Hunter. I had plenty of opportunity to self destruct. Professor White was the strongest and brightest light on my road. He triggered my passion, curiosity and love for dialogue in and about the classics, literature and film: Fellini, Pasolini, Truffaut, and on. I never read The New York Times until we were introduced. It was the only way to keep up with the references in his anecdotes.

I met Professor White at Hunter College this week for the first time in 33 years. We talked movies for two hours. How cool is that? I'm so glad he knows what he meant to me, and that his influence still runs through me.

Teach your children well. Well done, Professor White.

Thank you, Diana Conchado for arranging our meeting. hugs, Tommy


Anonymous said...

I too,am a former student of Prof. White. My class was on Friday morning at one ever cut!!! I graduated in 1975 and have never forgotten what a wonderful teacher he was...

Anonymous said...

In the Spring of 1975 (my graduating semester), Robert White was my Classics (Mythology) teacher at Hunter College. I recall him as as a good teacher. Fond memories indeed.

Anonymous said...

O M G !!! I could not have said it better...I just experienced all these wonderful flashbacks by reading your article!!! I was in his Honors Program class in 1984. He was the very first professor that I met at Hunter, and he became my mentor and adviser throughout my Hunter's years. This is certainly a most wonderful article for the best professor ever!!!

Virginia Fabre-Hernandez said...

I had a Mythology class with Professor White he was great! My favorite Classics teacher during this time was the wonderful Claireve Grandjouan. Both teachers taught about ancient civilizations & they made it interesting. Teachers like them are a treasure and you never forget how they enriched your life. A grateful student, Virginia