Meet Rev. Bob Hall ’74, philosophy, president of the Christian Council of Delmarva and a planned gift donor to UMBC. Through his work, Rev. Hall is able to combine the strengths of traditional churches to address needs in his community — and he says he got the grounding he needed for this work as a student at UMBC. We can’t wait to hear about who inspired him most. Take it away, Bob!
Q: What’s one essential thing you’d want the Retriever community to know about you?
A: I am a clergyperson who has worked in the faith-based non-profit sector for most of his career. I got a great liberal arts education at UMBC that created in me a love of learning and applying learning to participation in the community. My major was philosophy and its role as a parent to other disciplines led me to keep my interests varied.
Q: What’s the one thing you’d want someone who hasn’t joined the UMBC community to know about the support you find here?
A: I found the commitment to student success to be a foundational part of the UMBC culture, something that will not change. The faculty and administrators were accessible and engaged.
Q: Tell us about someone in the community who has inspired you or supported you, and how they did it.
A: I was inspired by several of my teachers, including Dr. John Titchener and Dr. Thomas Benson in philosophy, and Dr. Walter Sherwin, in ancient studies. They helped me to see my studies in these (very much related) areas as the beginnings of lifelong learning. I also am grateful to Dr. E. Richard Watts in physical education, who encouraged me to be a more active, well-rounded person.
Speaking of Dr. Watts, a friend and I asked him if we could have a fencing team at UMBC. Both of us had fenced in high school but wanted to try our skills at the college level. To our surprise, Dr. Watts agreed and the athletic department soon fielded a fencing team. We played a pretty rigorous schedule, including Duke, College Park, Johns Hopkins, and the Naval Academy. We were not great, but it was a fantastic experience. I think that my Dad was more excited about my UMBC letter in fencing than he was my academic achievements.
My studies at UMBC helped me to see my church work within the context of the culture and to understand the role of the church as an agent of both cultural preservation and cultural change.
Q: Tell us about what you loved most about your academic program.
A: I attended seminary right after I graduated from UMBC. While most of the other seminarians had attended private, church-related undergraduate schools, I sincerely felt that I was better prepared for graduate study than most of them. My studies at UMBC helped me to see my church work within the context of the culture and to understand the role of the church as an agent of both cultural preservation and cultural change.
Q: What brought you to UMBC in the first place?
A: I did not experience a call into the Christian ministry until after high school. So I came to UMBC (as opposed to College Park) because it was smaller and I felt that it would be a better place to learn subjects such as philosophy, psychology and sociology. At the same time, I wanted to attend a public university because I wanted to have opportunities to build a program that would support future studies.
At UMBC I had the opportunity to take the courses that would lead to my degree and to take courses in related fields that would be useful in seminary. Friends from high school who had gone to other schools, especially private colleges or universities, seemed to have much less flexibility in picking their courses. I really enjoyed that at UMBC and I have continued to be interested in subject matter beyond my major.
I was right in choosing UMBC because of the size of the classes and the accessibility of the faculty. The classes were never easy, but the encouragement of the instructional personnel and others, including peers, gave to me a lot of learning that I still value.
Q: Tell us about why you choose to continue to engage with UMBC as an alumnus and a planned gift donor.
A: I appreciate being engaged with the university community, especially the 1966 Society. I consider myself a Retriever for life. I am aware of how much UMBC is respected in the community, both in Maryland and beyond, and I want to help to sustain that. I also want to keep the humanities a strong part of the broader university.
* * * * *
UMBC’s greatest strength is its people. When people meet Retrievers and hear about the passion they bring, the relationships they create, the ways they support each other, and the commitment they have to inclusive excellence, they truly get a sense of our community. That’s what “Meet a Retriever” is all about.