Remembering a great teacher

One of my former English professors passed away. He was battling multiple myeloma (cancer of the blood plasma).

Dr. Chris Hokanson was a great man and a wonderful teacher.

At first he intimidated me because of his credentials:

B.A., Stanford University
M.Ed., Harvard; M.A.
Ph.D. Indiana University

My first thought was, “I’m going to fail a few classes this semester.”

I quickly discovered, though, that Dr. H wasn’t an academic elitist, ever boasting about his superior education.

He was a quiet, yet confident man who wanted all of his students to reach their full potential.

ChrisHokansonDuring class discussions, Dr. H made an effort to point out your good thoughts and comments. Sometimes he’d even say, “That would make a great topic for your paper!”

(Any time a professor says an idea is a good paper topic, you’d be foolish not to take the suggestion and run.)

Even when I turned in a horrible draft–probably written at 2 AM–for review, he never complained. Sure, he’d joke about the noticeably poor quality of my work, but he always ended by saying that it was well on it’s way to being a great paper.

Dr. H took an interest in his students’ lives beyond the classroom doors.

When my dad came to visit me at Judson (our first meeting), I was late turning in a paper–really, really late. Dr. H asked me how everything was going and offered me an extension.

I deserved an automatic “C” yet I was granted an extension…

Many Judson girls have similar stories. Whether it was a family crisis, sickness, or just general slacking, Dr. H was gracious. He always gave students the benefit of the doubt.

Judson College will not be the same without Dr. Hokanson. He will be greatly missed by faculty, staff, and students alike.

6 thoughts on “Remembering a great teacher

  1. It is a year later and I still can’t quite wrap my mind around Dr. Hokanson’s passing. I still have trouble speaking about him in the past tense. He believed relentlessly in me. His, was the voice petitioning on my behalf. I owe my college degree to this man who (despite hardship) never stopped reminding me that it was within my grasp. Audra, thank you for chronically your thoughts.

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