The jokes come fast. The pop culture references are frequent. Then there are the tell-it-like-it-is statements and serious discussions on everything from race relations to city politics.
Welcome to class—and even office hours—with Jepson professor Julian Hayter.
Only in his third year, he has already earned a reputation as a sought-after, high-energy educator with an open-door policy who inspires students to use their skills to serve the community.
“He’s the type of professor who really gets his students to care about what he’s teaching,” says leadership studies major Will Kelland, ’15.
Hayter was named Faculty Member of the Year last year by the Richmond College Student Government Association. He was the only one surprised, then, when he was selected as the speaker for this year’s Last Lecture Series.
The series is hosted by Omicron Delta Kappa Epsilon Circle and is common at colleges across the nation. Professors are asked to consider what they would say if it were truly their last lecture. Two other professors have given the address at Richmond—political science professor Rick Mayes and accounting professor Joe Hoyle.
Hayter’s talk focused on giving back to the city and the University, and on the importance of liberal arts and intellectual development. The event was held Nov. 13 in Ukrop Auditorium Lecture Hall.
The messages—“there ain’t no such thing as the good old days” and “there are people in the city who need your support”—were familiar to his students.
Hayter freely tells people that he "grew up on the other side of The Richmond Promise.” His father was a machinist at John Deere and his mother worked for an insurance company.
“I was not, believe it or not, particularly interested in school,” he says. “I got in trouble regularly. My teachers, as far as I was concerned, weren’t that interested in my intellectual development.”
All that changed in college. An inspiring professor set him on a new course. He decided he wanted to teach, became interested in scholarship and eventually pursued a doctorate in history.
He now teaches courses such as Justice and Civil Society and Leadership and the Humanities, as well as courses on civil rights leadership and the politics of leadership in the city, and is conducting research on Richmond politics in the mid-20th century, the border South’s contribution to the civil rights movement and race relations after the 1970s.
“He’s a strong presence in the class, likes to be challenged and enjoys a conversational class as opposed to just a lecture,” says Brandon Waller, ’17, a sophomore who decided to major in leadership studies after taking an introductory class with Hayter.
“I saw an opportunity to become a better person, not just a more educated person,” says Waller.