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The Lookout | October 19, 2021

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Running professor teaches philosophy

Running professor teaches philosophy

By Maddy Warren
Staff Writer

At the beginning of 2020, LCC philosophy professor Matthew Van Cleave made it his goal to run at least 10 miles every day. So far he has stuck with that goal.

“I run a lot and people who know me will know this,” Van Cleave said. “This year I decided I would run every day of the year … Since it’s a leap year I’ll have one extra day, so 366 days, at least 10 miles a day.”

Van Cleave has been at LCC since 2012. He teaches philosophy and other humanities courses, including mythology. He is also the chair of the Institutional Review Board, a member of the Academic Senate, and the program faculty chair for the philosophy department. 

“I went to a small liberal arts college as an undergraduate and … I was very impacted by certain professors that I had there,” he said. “Looking back that’s probably … part of what drew me into teaching.”

“My dad also kind of works for a religious organization, where he works with professors on college campuses. So I think if I were to reconstruct it, those were probably two big influences that I wasn’t really aware of at the time, but probably impacted why I’m doing what I’m doing.”

After completing his undergraduate degree, Van Cleave got a master’s degree and eventually a Ph.D. He worked at Concordia College in Minnesota for four years before coming to LCC.

Van Cleave said the adjustment to online classes from face-to-face classes, due to the pandemic, went fine for him.

“It can be time-intensive for faculty to initially set up the course as an online course,” he said. “I think for me it was not too bad because most of the courses that I was teaching face-to-face I had also already taught online. So I already had the kind of material, a lot of the structure there.”

He added the switch was easier for him as a full-time faculty member.

“You’re comparing apples and oranges when you talk about someone like me who is full-time and has already taught most of the courses I’m teaching online versus, let’s say, an adjunct who hasn’t taught anything online and has to do all that in like a week,” Van Cleave said.

“Good teachers always are kind of circling back and reflecting on what works and what doesn’t. So I think that most of us do that, even if we’ve been teaching the course online for a number of years already.”

Van Cleave said he understands the need for the sense of unity that the college strives for when it comes to teaching classes, but he also understands that not all classes can be run in the same fashion.

“I understand wanting to make it easier for students to navigate and we should all be trying to do that, but not at the expense of taking away from the content and the pedagogy within the disciplines,” he said. 

Van Cleave drove to New Mexico with his partner Sara and their Treeing Walker Coonhound, Rosie, to visit his brother during the break between semesters. They drove and slept in the back of their Subaru on the way out.

“My partner and I are out here just for a week with our dog,” he said May 20. “My brother has a little adobe-style house out here just north of Taos.

“We drove, it was a pretty epic journey … It was the best time for our schedules, it was a little bit last minute, but it worked out.”