Dr. Jean Minto graduated from Cairn University in 1989. She pursued a Master of Arts degree at Arcadia University and received her Doctor of Letters from Drew University. Since she began teaching at the University in 1991, Dr. Minto has served in various roles: professor, dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, vice provost of assessment and accreditation, and most recently as chair of the English department.
Tell me about your fondness for Lord of the Rings.
I reread Tolkien every summer. And that’s for a number of reasons. It’s my reward for handing in my final grades at the end of each year. But it’s also because I always discover something new. And I think the only way to do that is to keep revisiting. I could read through it in a couple days time, but I pace myself so that I can enjoy the journey. So I’ll stretch it out to a couple weeks.
I heard you brought in lunch for your Asian Literature class last year.
Yes, it was a small class. We had lunch together and had a seminar discussion to wrap up each unit. When I can do that, I like to. The Asian Literature class was a good one for that. No one was familiar with the literature, so everyone was a little bit tentative. So the food was a way to sort of build on some class comradery. People are also a little less intimidated when they can sit around and have something to eat together and talk.
What’s your favorite class to teach?
That’s a hard one; I like all my classes. I love Lit & Arts. It’s a bear of a class, and I know not everyone likes it. But I love it because of the interdisciplinary nature of weaving together literature, art, history, and music. I also love teaching Shakespeare, partly because a good number of students think “I could take him or leave him.” I enjoy moving a student from “bleh” to “this really wasn’t so bad after all, and I learned something and I have a better appreciation for his work.”
What makes the ideal student?
It has nothing to do with GPA or IQ. The ideal student is someone who has a heart for learning and, regardless of anything else, wants to learn. Someone who understands it’s not all about the grade. Grades are important, obviously. But the best students are those who have a heart for learning.