Given the right conditions, it doesn’t take long for intellectual stimulation to produce popcorn responses from students in a classroom.
This is the atmosphere Ronald Pitcock, J. Vaughn and Evelyne H. Wilson Honors Fellow and director of prestigious scholarships, provides for students at the university.
Although his subject matter may vary, he is interested in discovering the lives of students themselves. Drawing out their potential in whatever area that might be, he said, is his ultimate goal in teaching.
A student reviewer on ratemyprofessors.com wrote that Pitcock was the best professor at TCU and most likely in the nation. In the past, he has been recognized at the University of Kentucky, Indiana State University and TCU through awards such as the 2009 TCU Inspirational Professor Award, according to the Honors College website.
He received national recognition through The Princeton Review, which named Pitcock in its The Best 300 Professors publication.
Parker Fleming, a junior economics and religion double major, said Pitcock made students think on how they could take a different attitude of self-examination in learning in the world.
His uncommon classes have included opportunities for students to explore subjects such as how events like 9/11 are remembered in the American culture through literature in a class titled U.S. Cultural Memory. He also has taught classes such as Nature of Giving, which aimed to donate $100,000 to a local charity selected by the class this semester, Pitcock said.
The time in which he is available for students outside of class was what made the difference in students’ lives. He learned this from his professors, he said.
“My philosophy is more about creating unique opportunities for students to create links between their interests and the real world,” he said.
Pitcock said he started out teaching as a graduate student in 1992. After seeing the work his mother did teaching middle school, he thought he would go to law school after his undergraduate liberal arts studies at Wabash College in his home state of Indiana.
Pitcock said that growing up near DePauw University stimulated his intellectual interests from a young age. His father, who did not attend college, and his mother, who was a first-generation student, both imprinted on him the value of education. Like his family, he said he was an avid reader but was not interested in his studies in law after he graduated. His professors gave him the chance to teach as a graduate student, and it was then, he said, he found his purpose.
His education challenged his curiosity about the world around him, and he said he started to make connections between English writings and American culture. His courses, he said, were still shaped by the tough questions students ask and their interesting responses.
Kaileigh Swanson, a sophomore accounting major, said she looked forward to his insightful classes, which are tailored to the individual students involved.
With the amount of effort he invests in students, Scott Deskins, a sophomore political science major, said Pitcock had high expectations for students’ output.
Pitcock said he has heard from past students on a regular basis, some who attended medical school and others who were pursuing their own businesses in New York. He said he feels his family extends beyond his wife and three children to the students and faculty at the university.
“The relationships we build with students extend beyond the classroom, beyond these four years. The TCU experience — it’s a lifetime experience,” he said.
Wearing a purple tie and contemplative expression, he said he has the “best job in the world” and supports the university’s pursuit to truly educate undergraduate students.