What is your favorite
One memory taught me just how much of an impact a teacher
can have even with a minimal investment of time. I was teaching the American
government class—it must’ve been 20 years ago—and a student came into see me. I
required anyone who got Ds or Fs on the test to come in and see me. He was a
first-semester sophomore. He sat down and said, “It isn’t this class. I’ve just
been preoccupied with these other classes that I’m taking for my major, and I
hate it.” His major was pre-engineering. When I asked him what he wanted to
major in, he said business. The reason he was an engineering major was because
his father was an engineering major, and his father had pushed him to become an
engineer, too. I encouraged him to change his major, but not to tell his family
until after doing so. He ended up getting a B in my class. I didn’t see him
again until graduation weekend. He said, “I followed your advice and majored in
business. Your advice made all the difference in the world. Last week I
received a job offer from a corporation in Houston. I just wanted to say thank
you.” That impact happened from a 15-minute conversation.
Why did you continue
teaching for five years after your retirement in 2012?
I wanted to keep teaching because of the excitement I have
derived from the subject matter I’ve devoted my life to. The faucet didn’t turn
off as soon as I retired. It has continued—so has the urge to transfer that
excitement to other people, namely students, and to get them as excited about
the subject matter as I am. That hasn’t diminished at all. It’s just so
stimulating to be around young people, and the Honors College classes have
particularly good students. You keep current with emerging trends and the
culture and the society by exposing yourself to young people. I always said
that I will stop teaching when I stop getting nervous just before I go into the
classroom. When that stops, I’ll stop teaching, because that means I won’t care
as much as I used to. But that hasn’t happened.
What is your goal for
the Robert E. DiClerico Scholarship in Democratic Institutions and Public
The scholarship serves students within the Department of
Political Science. If possible, it is geared to students who are not only
outstanding students but have demonstrated in their undergraduate careers an
interest in achievement in leadership and our institutions of government. I’ve
also tried very hard, if possible, to have it go to students who are needy.
That’s something I came to appreciate when I arrived at WVU. I was never a
needy student—my education was paid for by my parents, but I didn’t squander
that opportunity. I never had to carry that burden of having my education
depend on my ability to work, get enough money during the summer or work while
going to school. I see some of these kids and how well they are able to do even
though they are spending so many hours per week working—I admire that so much.
It’s just wonderful to be able to reward a student who is working his or her
tail off, doing well, and really needs the money.
What will you miss
the most about WVU?
I’ll miss the friends I’ve made on the faculty and in the
community, and I’ll miss the students. My hope during my last year or so here
has been that I don’t run into someone for the first time who I want to get to
know better but won’t have the chance to.
What’s next for you?
I have family in New Hampshire and a home in Massachusetts.
The two-day trek from Morgantown to Massachusetts and then the even longer trip
to New Hampshire with two golden retrievers, neither of whom drive, has become
a major discouragement to making the trip more often at a time in my life when
I ought to be spending more time with family and at the home that I love near where
I grew up.
Robert DiClerico teaches and conducts research on the presidency, political
parties and elections, and the politics of agenda setting. Over the course of
his career, DiClerico has emerged as one of the nation’s leading experts on the
American presidency. He is the author of “Voting in America” and “The American
President” and co-author of “Choosing Our Choice” and “Few Are Chosen.” He is
editor of “Campaigns and Elections” and “Analyzing the Presidency.” His
scholarly articles have appeared in Presidential Studies Quarterly, Society,
and South Atlantic Quarterly. Along with being designated one of the Eberly College’s
original Eberly Professors for Outstanding Teaching in 1996, DiClerico has been
previously named West Virginia Professor of the Year, CASE Professor of the
Year, WVU Foundation Outstanding Teacher, Danforth Fellow, Amoco Outstanding
Teacher and Eberly College Outstanding Teacher. He has served as the Department
of Political Science’s Director of Undergraduate Studies and the WVU campus
representative for the Rhodes and Truman Scholarship foundations.