Yes, I think the overwhelming impression students got of Witherton was a cackling old man, rubbing his hands together safe in his Archivist’s Spire as he planned on how best to alienate and fail his students.

I took a slightly softer view. The man wasn’t a teacher, wasn’t trained as a teacher, and was clearly more comfortable with ancient manuscripts than people. But the way the university worked required him to teach, but gave no rewards for good teaching or punishments for bad teaching. His research kept him at the head of his field and the tip of the tenure iceberg, but the students…well, it’s safe to say that even with the slack some of the more enlightened of us cut him given the circumstances, it wasn’t easy.

Nothing illustrated that better than what became known as the “Action of April 30.”

Advertisements