Although Dr. Doug Sofer is the favorite of many students, few know of his love for the college. As associate professor of history, Sofer has a strong commitment to liberal arts education, a passion that he said was born during his own college experience. Starting at a small, school similar to MC in New York, Sofer said that his time at Hartwood College made him realize the value of an experiential education.
“At a big school, the people that are always really prepared for school will do really well, but the ones that still need to learn things, which is almost everybody, don’t really have an opportunity to do that,” Sofer said. Hartwood inspired Sofer to continue onto graduate school, so he could one day teach in the same environment that sparked his own thirst for knowledge.
Hartwood was the beginning of another life-long passion for Sofer. The college was where he met his future wife. Dr. Nancy Locklin-Sofer is also an associate professor of history at MC. Together, the Sofers make up half of the History department. Both went to Hartwood and met near the beginning of their freshman year.
“We met early on and the rest was history, pun intended!” Sofer said. Both went on to get their doctorate degrees, a time that Sofer said proved to be difficult. With graduate schools in different states, the two maintained a long-distance relationship for nearly a decade. “The years we were apart in grad school—talk about paying dues,” Sofer said. However, the distance ultimately paid off. Locklin-Sofer was hired at MC after a national search for a history professor, and shortly thereafter, Sofer was hired as an adjunct.
Only one year later, another search was conducted and Sofer was hired on as full-time history professor. He and his wife now have offices side by side. The two carefully considered if MC would prove to be as quality a liberal arts experience as they had enjoyed at Hartwood, and Sofer said that they both agreed it was a perfect fit. “I’m really blessed to have this job,” Sofer said. “This is exactly the kind of place I wanted to teach in.”
Outside of classroom, Sofer still maintains a passion for life.An avid runner, Sofer completed three full marathons in a single year. “It was something I’d always wanted to do, so I did two more,” Sofer said. With a specialization in Latin America, Sofer loves to travel and he spent a full year in Columbia while working on his dissertation. With his interest in Latin culture, Sofer is a part of the campus’ recently approved Latin Recruitment Effort, a group that aims to reach out to the local Latin American community. Most importantly, however, the Sofers are parents of a little boy and he said that he could not be prouder of their son. All this and a little jazz guitar on the side, Sofer stays busy.
In class, many students likely know Sofer for his rich sense of humor. “I have a silly persona in class which is an honest one, because I’m a silly guy,” Sofer said. As humorous as he may be, Sofer still takes academics seriously.
“I like to make lectures and talks in class entertaining, as long as that’s secondary to the learning process,” Sofer said. He said that he teaches to give back to the same type of institution that first inspired him. The idea of a liberal arts education has served as a driving force for most of his life. “I came to teach at a small liberal arts college,” Sofer said. “I believe Maryville College can teach in a transformative way.”