The Ohio State University at Lima

Fulfilling a promise

October 27, 2022

Longtime professor Scott Fisher rounds out his teaching career with a new and meaningful classics course

Scott Fisher is trying to step back from full-time teaching, but he had one more class he needed to teach.

Fisher’s family pushed hard for him to retire when he faced a steep health crisis over the summer, but he had promised academic associate dean Dr. Mark Kleffner he would teach “Sex and Gender in the Ancient World” and didn’t want to leave Kleffner or the students in a lurch on short notice.

The bargaining began.

“I felt it was important to help in a small way to further the purpose of the LGBTQ minor that is now on campus,” Fisher said. “And I used it as a chip when arguing with my family members that I would just do this one class and then retire and that finally won them over.”

While he hopes to come back to the Ohio State Lima classrooms from time to time, leaving something he has done his entire career is hard.

“I love it. I love being in the classroom and sharing ideas, having conversations, and learning from my students. While I hope they learn from me, I certainly learn from them,” Fisher said.

Fisher first encountered Ohio State Lima when he was teaching for another institution one building away from Ohio State Lima’s outreach unit, the Bellefontaine Center, at Ohio Hi-Point Center. Fisher was already teaching some classes at Ohio State Marion so when asked to also teach at Lima, he signed on. It gave him the opportunity to concentrate on his specialty – classics.

But for a chance encounter in college, Fisher might still be a failed Spanish major with a music minor. Or in prison as something other than a teacher. He’s not sure.

“This guy who was later my roommate and with whom I also worked at the college dining commons came to work one day with this armload of books that were Oxford classical texts with green paper covering binders for the cover book coverings for the Greek and new ones for the Latin, I think it was. And he just showed them to me and I, … there was something about the books.”

From then on, classics has been a big part of the story of his life, in and out of the classroom. He met his wife in a class he was teaching as a PhD student. In what he calls a kind of classics move, they married and moved to Ohio State where he finished up his PhD in Classics and she started her first job at the university as an entomologist.

While he is all about classics and teaching now, his initial lack of clarity about his education path has helped him connect with students in similar situations.

“They want to learn and I'm sure that some of them are here just because mom and dad want them to be here and they're not really sure what they want to do. But when I first went to school, I was much the same. I just kind of drifted away to college because that was what was expected. I had no clue at the beginning why I was there and what I was doing. And I fondly tell students not to do what I did frittering away year after year just kind of spinning my wheels.”

Fisher tries to help them focus on the possibilities.

“I encourage them to examine what it is that they love to do. What makes them excited?” he said. “If they were not concerned about putting food on the table, or a roof over their head, what would they want to be doing?”

Using the classics to begin the conversation about difficult topics in his current class can make it easier for students to engage. The players are far away in time and space as opposed to sitting across the dinner table talking about gender roles, sexual orientation and relationship expectations.

“They've been dead for so long that they don't care anymore. And if we mispronounce their names, that's fine. And if we don't get their opinions correct that's okay too,” Fisher said. “And it was all back then 2,500 years ago, 3000 years ago, whatever. And yet not different.”

Fisher hopes that students apply what they learn about ancient civilizations to their current situations. He plants the seeds of things to think about and lets each student nurture their own thoughts and ideologies.

“I can't force my opinions down your throat. I can't twist your mind so that you think the way that I think,” Fisher said. “But for you to think about how you think and what you think and why you think, that I'm happy to get paid for.”

Fisher is adjusting to the family decision to not teach full time anymore. Time with his grandchildren and all the wonder that comes with young children are calling, but he knows he will miss so many things about being on the Ohio State Lima campus.

“Being with students and colleagues, walking into a classroom building, having discussions, being in the classroom, and getting to look out at the fresh young faces or in some cases the older faces. That is fine too.”

The doors are always open.