BY SHRUTI RAM – STAFF WRITER
New faces are easy to pick out amongst Centre College’s tight-knit community, and this extends to faculty members as well. Last semester The Cento began its “Meet the new Faculty” series, and it continues with Dr. Tara Strauch, Assistant Professor of History.
During our interview, Dr. Strauch is warm and smiling. She welcomes me into her office graciously.
“I am an Ohio girl at heart,” Dr. Strauch said during our interview. “I went to the College of Wooster as an undergraduate so I love everything about liberal arts colleges. Then, I went to the University of South Carolina for grad school and then I taught there, and then I went back to Wooster where I taught for a year, and then I moved here.”
Thus, it is Dr. Strauch’s third year as a full-time college professor, and she is already enjoying teaching at Centre.
“When I interviewed here everyone said Centre College students were the nicest students,” Dr. Strauch said with a laugh. “And it’s true, [they] really are! They’re pleasant, almost always have a smile on their face and they’re always a pleasure to be around. Centre students try harder to understand that their professors are real people first.”
She shared that she has a husband and three-year-old son, and residing in a small town like Danville has been a great family experience.
“Our goal in life was to end up in a small college town, that was our dream, and we made it!” she said excitedly, “We love Danville, we love how small it is, we love being able to go downtown and eat at the Pizza Pub, and we like that we can still drive to a Target.”
Although it may be hard to transition to small-town life at Centre from living in a bigger city, Dr. Strauch mentioned that Centre is worth it. She enjoys the inclusivity of the community, and being able to socialize and spend time with other faculty members and their families.
Like every professor, Dr. Strauch has many interests outside of teaching (even if a three-year-old can eat into her leisure time) including singing in the church and women’s choir here in town, and watching shows on Netflix. She also shared some fun facts about her life before Centre.
“In college I wore a kilt and I was a Scottish highland dancer,” Dr. Strauch said, laughing.
Dr. Strauch also shared that Centre students should not be surprised to know that many of their professors also have the anonymous app Yik Yak.
“It makes most of us professors laugh” Dr. Strauch said. “It’s funny seeing some of the things Centre students have to say.”
Perhaps what she most passionate about currently is her “American Revolution” class—one of her favorites she’s ever taught, as it includes one of her primary areas of interest.
“I am early American historian” Dr. Strauch said. “My specialty is religion, culture and politics, and I’m really interested in the relationship between religion and politics in the 18th century. Today, we may think of them as separate things, but in the 18th century they wouldn’t have understood that distinction. They are deeply intertwined, so one of my biggest interests in understanding how they inform each other.”
Dr. Strauch then noted that she’s looking forward to conducting research with some of her students as well as investigating the Boston Committee of Correspondence records, which were recently all digitized by the New York Public Library.
“The records allow students a first-hand account of early American life,” Dr. Strauch explained.
In all facets of life, whether it be conducting collaborative research with students or exploring downtown Danville, Dr. Strauch is excited about the opportunities working at Centre affords her. She is passionate about the liberal arts education model and appreciates that it allows students to go on and excel in their future areas of work, as well as outside their jobs and engaged citizens in the world.
“I knew from being an undergraduate I wanted to be at a liberal arts college, and when this job ad showed up last fall, I jumped up and down and said, ‘This is the job I want!’” Dr. Strauch said. “I think [liberal arts colleges] give students access to education and networks that they would not have the opportunity to have at a larger university. I think getting to study a broad number of subjects is really important in making college students well-rounded, great citizens.”