By Cole Deutschendorf / Staff Writer

Every high school has one. A history teacher who doubles as a football coach, making sure that every single date and location is memorized, throwing the occasional “historical” movie up on the TV for the class period. They are usually amazing people, just not the best at making what is typically thought of as a boring topic captivating

That’s where Eric Dudley comes in. Hailing from Orangeville, a small town just outside of Sacramento, California, Dudley is a history professor at Hutchinson Community College, where he teaches classes varying from American history to ancient European history.
Dudley fell in love with history in high school when he had two teachers who turned him onto the subject. Originally, he wanted to become a high school history teacher, as well as a basketball coach.

Photo Courtesy Cole Deutschendorf

“It just evolved from there,” Dudley said. “I realized pretty quickly that I wanted to go to the next level and teach college.”

After graduating high school, Dudley went to California State University at Sacramento, more commonly known as Sacramento State. He then went to Kansas State University, where he earned both his Master’s and Doctorate degrees. He applied to colleges all across the United States, and eventually ended up at HutchCC.

The historical focus that Dudley originally had was military history, spanning from Alexander the Great to the ancient Roman empire. At HutchCC, he has taught essentially every history class that Hutch has to offer, covering everything from the Industrial Revolution, to how history and memory are intertwined.

He cited the types of students that are taught at colleges as the main reason he preferred college over high school, as those students are not forced to be in classes as opposed to high school.

Dudley values the opportunity he has every day to make impacts in his student’s lives, which is his favorite part of teaching. “There’s nothing I like hearing more than a student who doesn’t really have an appreciation of history at the beginning of class to leave my class with a newfound appreciation for it.”

James Cotton, Wichita freshman, is in Dudley’s American History post-1865 class. Cotton said that this history class has been the most enjoyable of this topic that he has ever taken.

“He tries to relate the subjects we talk about to each individual person,” Cotton said.

Generally speaking, history is a subject that is thought of as an unstimulating, dull class. Dudley tries his best day in and day out to retain student’s interest in the subject and keep them engaged with the topics.

“I try to avoid a pointless memorization of dates or facts, but try to instead focus on some of the fascinating, sometimes funny, sometimes tragic, stories and characters in history,” Dudley said. “Those stories are what make history so interesting.”

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