The political science department has been actively searching for a new member of their team for over a year now. After a long series of interviews and guest lectures, Dr. David Ryden, the Political Science Department Chair, announced on Jan. 4 that alumnus Dr. Rachel Schotte (’06) will be joining the department as a full-time faculty member in the fall of 2018.
In a recent interview, Dr. Schutte noted that although Hope is a change from her current post as a fixed-term assistant professor at Michigan State University (MSU), she is excited to come back to the liberal arts energy she fell for in her undergraduate studies. She went on to note that Hope, particularly, “engenders a stronger sense of community.” Prior to MSU, Dr. Schutte was an assistant professor at Hunter College at the City University of New York (CUNY) and grew fond of the liberal arts college environment. Due to this experience, she praises the “particular kind of collaborative student-faculty relationship,” that can be found in liberal arts institutions, finding them rewarding.
Dr. Schutte’s academic focus lies in American politics and political institutions, with a particular emphasis on the decision-making of the U.S. Supreme Court. Her research has been published in “Political Research,” “Quarterly” and “Party Politics.” With these interests leading the way, she regularly teaches classes on American politics, judicial process and Constitutional and Civil Rights Law at MSU. Although her class schedule at Hope has yet to be released, her teaching philosophy includes a combination of emphasizing historical development of the political system and the tools of social science that allow students to reach a better understanding of what shapes American society.
Dr. Schutte grew up in small- town northern Michigan where the diversity of career paths was quite muted. However, she knew from early on that law was of interest to her. In her words; “The idea of becoming a lawyer was the biggest dream I could give voice to.” As she began her studies in the field of political science at Hope, she began to realize that it was the study of politics and law that allowed her true passion to be uncovered and her dreams to, in turn, evolve.
She continued to explain that once this became clear, it was evident that she was “born to be a teacher.” She explained that she has “always relished the opportunity to be a part of the learning environment.” She further noted that “it’s a challenge to engage and inspire students, to eradicate apathy, and to foster an inclusive and vibrant intellectual community within the classroom, but it’s one that I like to meet head on every semester.” Via the Rate My Professor website, students are able to write their critiques, compliments and overall rating of professors at colleges and universities all across the country.
The majority of Dr. Schutte’s past students send her to Hope with compliments that acknowledge the passion and energy she brings to the classroom environment, with an overall rating of 4.1 out of 5, which is a rather high rating for the site.