The Great Teacher Inspires
With a new gift, John Kenneth Felter ’72, MA’72 aims to provide Eagles with the same kind of life-changing education that he received at the Heights.
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
These are the words John Kenneth Felter ’72, MA’72 used to describe beloved Boston College economics professor Richard W. Tresch at the latter’s retirement party in 2018.
Tresch’s teaching at BC was legendary, Felter recalls—a sentiment shared by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as Governor Charlie Baker awarded Tresch a citation upon his retirement to acknowledge his “dedicated service to Boston College as a preeminent teacher, stalwart administrator, contributor to the social sciences, and esteemed author and public-sector theorist.” His former student Ken Felter put succinctly the enormous impact Tresch had on him and so many BC students: “Dick is a great teacher. Dick inspires,” he said.
Felter has never forgotten the importance of great teachers—indeed, he’s made it a top priority to support them. That’s why, when he made a gift to BC to establish the Felter Family Assistant Professorship earlier this year, he did so in honor of Tresch.
Felter remembers his first course with Tresch vividly: “What I found so interesting about his Principles of Economics class was not only the substantive subject matter, but also Dick’s teaching style. He was a master of the Socratic method. He challenged students to apply economic theory to real-world situations.” Felter, who had never studied economics, was inspired to make it his major as well as the subject of his Scholar of the College project, and to simultaneously earn his Master’s in Economics, all within four years.
Throughout the half century since his graduation, Felter has been a loyal supporter of the Economics Department and the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences, where he’s worked to promote excellence in teaching. In fact, since he retired as a partner and trial lawyer at the prestigious international law firm, Ropes & Gray LLP, Felter has taught a popular Cross Currents course at BC, Thinking about Law and Economics (and Psychology), which captures the interdisciplinary ethos of the University’s most distinctive academic offerings. Felter also teaches at Harvard Law School and in the Economics Department at Harvard College.
Felter has also established a number of endowments at the Morrissey College that offer vital support to its faculty, including the Felter Family Endowed Faculty Fellowship and the Felter Family Economics Department Doctoral Fellowship. His newest contribution was established with the aim to “support and recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching.”
The University has found such a teacher: on March 17, the Boston College Chronicle announced that Theodore Papageorgiou had been named the inaugural Felter Family Assistant Professor. Papageorgiou, whose research focuses on labor and transportation economics, says he is “humbled to join the growing group of endowed chairs at Boston College.” He finds great joy in working with BC students, remarking that they are “intellectually curious, genuinely want to learn, and are kind.” “[BC students] are a pleasure to teach,” adds Papageorgiou.
With the arrival of new faculty talent such as Papageorgiou, the legacy of Dick Tresch—of brilliant, fully-dedicated undergraduate teaching—remains as powerful as ever at the Heights.