Loyola University Chicago

Department of Classical Studies


Professor Penny Livermore holds #1 spot with Rate My Professors

Professor Penny Livermore holds #1 spot with Rate My Professors

Rate My Professors, a commonly frequented site for college students, recently awarded Loyola faculty member Dr. Penny Livermore (Department of Classical Studies) with the number one position ranked by students. While the number of reviews varies in general, her rating has been consistent across the years.  Professor Livermore talks about this response to her teaching—and, in an unhurried manner, she spoke about what it means to connect with students.

For starters, how did you get interested in Classical Studies?
I like to go back to the source of language. Students realize, through my classes, that these ancient languages are not dead. Ancient stories are like a treasure in their pocket; these stories are immortal and frame ideas about strength and passion. We live in a lonely world.  But, by connecting to the ancient past, we see the world beyond ourselves and feel rooted in millennia of the heritage which birthed us.

How do you describe your teaching?
I like to help students establish an association between the ancient world and modern society by storytelling and interacting face-to-face. And I like working with original texts (in translated form). I relish digging into the meaning of what was written, so that  we conduct  detailed analysis of content. I encourage students to reflect on the meaning of each source, and each selected sentence in the texts. I am a bit old-fashioned in my approach: I prefer text-based learning, using primary sources, and reading closely, in-depth.

How do I engage with today’s high tech students in a subject thousands of years old?
It is hard. I have no set method other than to connect with the students and to create an atmosphere of welcoming hospitality in the classroom However, it is my conviction that students can use technology purposefully to study the ancient world.

How do you think about these reviews?
I am honored, and humbled, by the notion that students rate me so favorably. I cannot relate to how one person can be the best, a somewhat discomforting concept – especially in that I feel  all of us teachers are giving to the very best of our abilities, and our strength lies in the colorful fabric of  our togetherness . I am thankful, however, that students like my style. I am passionately committed to “passing on” the rich gifts of education that I have received.  I do not know much about Rate My Professors. Regardless, I simply hope that whatever I do helps students learn and understand this formative past and the enduring humanity it heralds. My students are such a joy—and my motivation is to do well for them. I am fortunate to have the opportunity.

If you could rate your students, what would you say about them?
I try to call forth the light sparkling inside of each student and to draw out the passions that make them who they are—to discover who they are. There is a lot of spirit and heart within my students. They are simply magnificent!

Professor Livermore received her BA in Honors, Near Eastern Languages, from the National University of Ireland, Dublin; she began her graduate studies  in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin at the Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley; she received her M.A. and  her PhD in Classics from Northwestern University.