Peter Hatlie, a man of many names, grew up in Wahpeton, N.D. It was a town so small that he was not born there because there was no hospital. Instead, his parents crossed the river to Minnesota where he was born.
Now vice president, dean, and director of the University of Dallas Rome campus, as well as professor of Classics since 2015, he is quite the cosmopolitan academic.
He began his academic journey at St. Olaf’s in southern Minnesota, and he continued on to graduate school at Fordham University where he had the mentorship of several professors and found his love for Byzantine history. He received fellowships abroad in Cambridge, Greece, and Bulgaria, to name a few.
Although he had a job in the United States, his first major tenure-track position was at the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands, where he was the associate professor of Byzantine Studies from 1994 to 2001.
Coming to Due Santi on sabbatical in 1999, Hatlie fell in love with UD’s program and signed a one year contract to teach the history course Western Civilization I. While he was faced with a difficult choice between remaining in Rome or returning to the Netherlands, he took the position at UD after several more years of extending his sabbatical. Hatlie remained, in part, because he had the opportunity to mentor students as he had once been mentored.
Hatlie praised the Rome curriculum because students are “studying the right thing in the right place at the right time of people’s education” regardless of their majors. Though students come and go, staying for only a semester at a time, he loves the opportunity he has to teach almost every UD student.
Under his leadership prior to the pandemic, “more than 89% of UD undergraduates study abroad, most with the university’s flagship Rome program,” according to a 2013 study from the Institute for International Education. Hatlie is reassured that “study abroad continues to be relevant … because it is really important for America to continue to engage in the world outside of America.”
Hatlie ushered in a new semester on Sept. 4, and is cautiously optimistic that the program is past the pandemic. Although the fall 2021 class lost several students, he has a solid incoming class and is excited for the adventure of another semester, hopefully unfettered by coronavirus restrictions. Hatlie said that he is “really happy to have those 74 students” and is ready to return to maskless classes and more freedom in traveling Europe.
Legend has long suggested that he works for the Central Intelligence Agency, but while the CIA did attempt to recruit Hatlie into their ranks, he insists that he never accepted their offer. One who does not know him may wonder why a Byzantine historian was approached by the intelligence service, but this legendary professor has, though he’s too humble to admit it, a working knowledge of several languages including Greek, Italian, and Russian.
Hatlie’s pastime and artistic outlet is wine. UD’s Due Santi wines are produced off the Rome campus’s three vineyards. Every vintage is different, and he has just produced UD’s first sparkling rosé, the Due Santi Cammin, named after the Fall 2020 Rome class. The best view of the main vineyard, where one can often see the campus faculty maintaining the grapes, is the appropriately named Hatlie Hill.
Notwithstanding his academic achievements, Hatlie remains a student himself. He believes that “education never finishes” and cautions against academic complacency. Hatlie exhorts everyone in the UD community to avoid the “bucket list” mentality that, “I did UD and now my education is over.” Instead, he advises that we “keep going back to the well.”