Paths Toward Truth

Thomas Conner
Associate Professor of History

Thomas ConnerThomas Conner is the Dean of Social Sciences and Associate Professor of History.

How much America has depended on the Western tradition and how much it stands to lose now that this tradition is under assault is the subject of this thoughtful essay by Hillsdale College Vice President Robert K Blackstock. His remarks were delivered during Hillsdale’s Center for Constructive Alternatives seminar, “The Quest for Freedom: Celebrating 150 Years at Hillsdale College,” in September of 1994.


What sets the Hillsdale College faculty apart is its dedication to fostering the intellectual growth of students and to designing and presenting a curriculum that lights paths toward truth in both the oldest and the newest ways. Our academic program is often characterized as “traditional,” and its devotion to time-honored understandings of what constitutes an educated person makes it so. But, the faculty is equally dedicated to bringing before our students the most up-to-date ideas and knowledge from a wide variety of disciplines.

The various talents of the Hillsdale faculty are remarkable. Our professors come from the finest graduate programs in the world. Many of them are publishing scholars and acknowledged experts in their fields. But the quality that defines our faculty more than any other is dedication to teaching and advising. This is evident in innumerable ways. The degree to which our faculty devotes time and talent to teaching—inside and outside the classroom—is extraordinary.

One of the best things I can report about my personal experience at Hillsdale is that I have had the freedom to do practically everything in teaching that I ever dreamed of doing—from offering courses on the subjects I feel most passionately about in Western history to convincing skeptical students that those subjects are relevant and meaningful. In my capacity as an advisor, I have also had the opportunity to help many students make important decisions and learn to cope with the various challenges of young adulthood.

During nearly 16 years on the Hillsdale faculty, in addition to a rich array of traditional classroom experiences, I have climbed Alpine mountains, chipped pieces off the Berlin Wall, walked somberly among the crosses of the U.S. cemetery at Omaha Beach, strolled through Red Square in Moscow, and toured some of the great museums of Europe with my students. I am sure that my colleagues agree that the teaching environment here encourages us to reach students in the most creative and dynamic ways and to put a genuinely personal mark on our relationship with them. Indeed, this is something that has set Hillsdale College apart since its founding.