By Zach Clark
“Everyone moves up socially in this classroom. You will be given a title, whether as a lord, a lady, a duke, a baroness, or anything else, and you must live up to it.”
“I want you all, to the best of your ability, to refrain from using the vocalized pauses known as ‘um,’ ‘uh’ or ‘like’ in your everyday speech.”
“Even when you aren’t sure about a question, still answer with confidence. Just fake it ’til you make it.”
These are a few examples of the lessons and memories offered to those University of Dallas students who have been lucky enough to take a class from Father Robert Maguire, O. Cist. Ever since 1967, when he first arrived on our Irving campus, Fr. Maguire has been an icon and a legend at UD, and his classes have been a rite of passage for many students whose parents and siblings he also taught during their time at UD in decades past.
Having been Fr. Maguire’s student for four different courses, I can speak confidently when I say that Fr. Maguire has a remarkable ability to make the literary works that we read, study and write about not only educational, but also enjoyable. Taking one text or genre at a time, Fr. Maguire offers insight and analysis during his lectures that students cannot hope to find anywhere else. In doing so, he also invites students to think through the story’s components on their own, opening a special, scholarly door for their insights.
You would think that any professor who could improve a student’s writing ability tremendously, or who could engage a student’s critical thinking skills constantly, would be perfectly content with just that. Not Fr. Maguire. It is seeing a young person learn something, not only about academic matters but also about matters of life in general, that truly keeps Fr. Maguire going.
Fr. Maguire is a professor of English, but his enormous contributions to UD are not limited to the classroom. Fr. Maguire has always taken a great interest in the welfare of the school and in all of its students. You can find Fr. Maguire celebrating Mass at the Church of the Incarnation on campus at least once a week, if not more. Students always look forward to seeing and talking with him. He is frequently involved in other campus events as well. You will often hear about events that Fr. Maguire participates in with the help of UD student volunteers. For example, he served at the Texans for Life Coalition Banquet in January earlier this year.
Not every professor can take the academic material they teach and apply it to any subject, people or place in the world, but Fr. Maguire never fails to do so.
In doing so, he constantly offers his students the opportunity to see how important their studies are, not only in their own lives but also in a larger, social context. This, of course, ultimately shows how Fr. Maguire fully understands the significance of and the possibilities offered by the Core curriculum. It also shows how UD has been incredibly blessed to have him.
Fr. Maguire is a professor who can not only teach you something about a classical, liberal arts education in the Western world, but who can also teach you something about yourself that you may never have known otherwise.