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Laurence Carlin - Student Impact

by Michelle Peplow
Student Multimedia Reporter

Energetic. Dedicated. Real.

These are some of the words students have used to describe Dr. Laurence Carlin, professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

Senior Matthew Swenson is a big Carlin fan. “Professor Carlin is not the type of professor to sit and wait for class to start. He is actively speaking with students, cracking jokes and making students feel like they are in a fun environment,” Swenson said. “I have had over 100 class periods with him and cannot remember one day where he was not full of energy and where his passion for the subject that he was teaching did not seep throughout the classroom.”

Swenson, who is a philosophy and political science major, describes Carlin’s teaching style as energetic. “He is constantly moving throughout the classroom,” he said. “His movements throughout the classroom are more like a coach active at the sidelines, than an average college professor.”
Although Swenson enjoys the energy Carlin brings, what he likes most is how Carlin is prepared for every class, and how he manages the class discussions. Carlin seems to strike a balance of answering students’ questions, while keeping the discussion focused and moving forward.

Dr. Laurence Carlin Teaching
Dr. Laurence Carlin, who teaches philosophy at UW Oshkosh, reads about Galileo to the students.

Swenson's undergraduate career will be completed at UWO, thanks to professors like Carlin. “About a year ago, I considered transferring to Madison to attend a more widely recognized university before attending law school,” Swenson said. “There were two professors, Dr. Carlin being one of them, that kept me in Oshkosh. I could not fathom being taught in a huge pit by a TA in place of an amazing professor like Dr. Carlin.  I honestly can say I do not regret that decision for a minute.”

Feeding the Passion

Tracy Wilichowki decided her major after taking a class with Carlin her freshman year. She always liked history, but the job outlook seemed bleak in that field. It was after the class read The Apology in class, that Dr. Carlin shared his story of how he became a philosophy major.

Carlin went to college originally intending to be an accountant. Those plans changed when Carlin took an Introduction to Philosophy course to satisfy a General Education requirement. It was after they read the Apology he fell in love with philosophy and the idea of it. It was when he covered Socrates in another course, he had the life-altering moment when he went to the registers office and changed his major from accounting to philosophy.

Wilichowiki described the story and said, “What I enjoyed most about this story is that there is nothing I could see him doing other than being a philosophy professor... This single story has motivated me to follow my true dreams and seemingly unattainable career goals more than almost any other instance in college.”

Soaring with the Eagles

Recent graduate Steven Mischler took part in a  study abroad course in Scotland with Carlin. Mischler received his “first glimpse into the world of philosophy” when he took Carlin’s Intro to Philosophy. “I didn’t become a philosophy major until my junior year, but I always had that class in the back of my mind,” Mischler said. “ I credit him with that first push into philosophy, and honestly it was because of how well he teaches that class.”

Mischler recounts a particular memory of Dr. Carlin during the Scotland study abroad trip. “Dr. Carlin is a dedicated and serious guy, but he’s also got a lighter side. He’s got a wonderful sense of humor and he’s always finding ways to add humor to the classroom… We had to be up fairly early for class and the field trips. He told us, ‘You know what Mrs. Carlin, my mother, says? You can’t soar with the eagles if you’re hooting with the owls.’ And, most days if someone looked tired he would say, ‘Looks like you’ve been hooting with the owls.’ It got to the point where my classmates would come to class and announce that they had been ‘hooting with the owls’ or would proudly announce that they were ready to ‘soar with the eagles.’”
Mischler, who is a recent graduate of UWO, also credits Carlin with helping him find his future path. “He’s a role model for the type of professor I’d like to become,” he said.

David Gustrowsky, senior and computer science major, still remembers the lessons learned from Carlin’s Intro to Philosophy class. “The beautiful thing about philosophy is you use what you learn from it every day,” he said. “Anytime you think something through to a conclusion you're using logic, which philosophy helps strengthen by studying the often centuries old arguments.”