At Taylor University, it’s not just the students who are recognized for their excellence. It’s the faculty as well.
Two Taylor professors — Kevin Diller, professor of philosophy and religion, and Jody Hirschy, associate professor of business, have been recognized within the past year for the quality of their teaching.
Last spring, Diller was awarded the Distinguished Professor Award by the Taylor University Alumni Association. And this fall, Hirschy was the recipient of a ‘Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership’ award.
Although thankful for their awards, they both reflect on their time at Taylor as a whole and what brought them to the place they are at now.
For both Hirschy and Diller, teaching at Taylor was a calling. Coming from a long line of teachers, Hirschy always assumed that she too would one day fill those shoes; she just didn’t know when.
“I felt clearly called to come and teach here,” Hirschy said. “Doors opened up that really shouldn’t have and I was able to walk right through.”
Walking through those doors then created fifteen years of teaching and serving in the Taylor community. And in those 15 years of teaching, Hirschy herself has learned a lot.
“I have grown tremendously in my love for teaching and ability to do so,” Hirschy said.
Wife of a Taylor alumnus and a mother of two, Hirschy also considers her students to be part of her family.
“It’s rewarding for me and many faculty here at Taylor to watch our students achieve inherently more and to come into their own… My whole goal is to prepare students for kingdom impact through business,” Hirschy said.
She firmly believes that the business world is the biggest mission field.
Hirschy knows that she works for Taylor by human standards, but in reality, she works for the Lord. She wants students to fulfill their real job of kingdom work through their day job as a business professional.
“That’s the business I’m in,” Hirschy said. “That’s what gets me up in the morning.”
Diller, on the other hand, has experienced Taylor University as both a learner and an educator. A 1993 Taylor graduate, he now resides with his wife and four kids here in Upland. The oldest of his four kids, Sophia, is currently enrolled as a freshman, and his other daughter Naomi is committed to play soccer at Taylor next fall.
Back in 2009, while Diller was doing his post doctorate at Notre Dame, a position opened up and he reentered the world of Taylor, this time as a professor, teaching philosophy, world religions and contemporary Christian belief.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be at Taylor with such amazing colleagues at a place where so many good students come who are motivated to grow and learn,” he said. “Faith in Jesus is a motivating center for what they care about, in and out of the classroom.”
He dubs Taylor as a phenomenal place to serve in ministry and views his role as a professor as a way to participate in God’s work.
Much more than a title or award, Diller expresses what the most rewarding part of his job is.
“It’s having the sense that maybe you have helped a student get a clear idea of who God is.”
Both Diller and Hirschy made it a point to say that it does in fact ‘take a village.’ Their awards reflect not only them, but a whole community of people behind them.
“This award, while I’m honored to receive it, is really a reflection of the community as a whole,” Hirschy said. “Nothing is done in isolation. My colleagues are such a big part of this. We lift one another up and teach one another through that.”
With the same mentality, Diller also acknowledges his deep appreciation for his colleagues.
“There is a lot more mutual appreciation and trust in our faculty than might appear,” Diller said. “There are many other faculty that seem to be just as deserving of this award — very gifted and devoted faculty.”
As established members of the Taylor community both Diller and Hirschy offer some advice to the current students, some life lessons they’ve collected on their journey. Diller encourages students, in a more practical manner; to try and do the hard things first. In a less practical but more meaningful manner, he encourages students to look to their Creator.
“Rest in your belovedness and the unfailing commitment of God to your growth and your identity,” he said.
Hirschy advises students to be intentional with the gifts God has given them and to think through the ‘whats’ and the ‘whys.’
“God designed each of us uniquely,” Hirschy said. “The more you steward your opportunities, the better prepared you will be to do the work God has given you."