Dr. Matthew Bagot: Teacher of the Year 2013-2014

Mon, 09/09/2013 - 4:00pm
Matthew Bagot

The Edward B. Moody, S.J., Teacher of the Year Award is Spring Hill College’s highest award for faculty. The achievement is decided by anonymous ballot, and only students are allowed to cast votes.

Spring Hill’s 2013-2014 recipient, Dr. Matthew Bagot, is an assistant professor in the department of theology. Dr. Bagot is well-known for his inspirational teaching style, passion for research, and commitment to learning.

Remarks from the student nomination forms included:

“Dr. Bagot not only expresses his knowledge, but shares human compassion as reflected by the manner in which he relates to the students.”

“After learning about many Catholics throughout history who had lived their lives serving others, Dr. Bagot inspired me to seek out my own vocation. I had always known that I wanted to help people, but what Dr. Bagot helped me to see is that medicine was not the only way that I could fulfill that desire.”

“Dr. Bagot not only inspired me in the classroom setting, but also promoted local lectures that he knew would be key to his students’ overall experience and understanding of the Jesuit Tradition.”

“One has to admire and respect Dr. Bagot and he should be considered as one of the greatest academic scholars at SHC.”

Dr. Matthew Bagot joined the SHC faculty in 2007 while completing his Ph.D. dissertation in ethics from Boston College. Dr. Bagot’s interests include religion and U.S. foreign policy, the role of religion in social and political life, and Catholic social ethics as related to international affairs. 

Prior to joining the Spring Hill College faculty, Bagot served as a teaching fellow at Boston College, an instructor at Rivier College in Nashua, N.H., and taught at Emory University in Atlanta, and St. Michael’s Academy in Austin, Texas.

Dr. Bagot, born and raised in England, pursued his Master of Arts in mental philosophy in Edinburgh, Scotland before enrolling in Emory University’s theology program and completing his Master of Theological Studies at Weston Jesuit School of Theology.

A popular speaker on the Catholic Church, peace, and religion, Dr. Bagot has made presentations at the University of Notre Dame, The Telos Institute in New York, as well as Trento and Florence, Italy.

Spring Hill colleague Dr. John Switzer finds it a genuine pleasure to work with Dr. Bagot. “He and I both completed our doctoral studies at Boston College within the last eight years and we have always enjoyed comparing notes about how to be better at teaching,” says Dr. Switzer. “Matthew not only pushes his students to strive for more, he pushes himself as well. He is always searching for ways to be a better, more informed teacher. I value his insights greatly.”

Rev. Christopher Viscardi, S.J., who conducted Dr. Bagot’s first one-on-one interview for the Spring Hill College position, adds that he brings a unique contribution to the faculty. “In addition to his expertise in questions of philosophy, history and social theory, he is a deeply committed theologian, always aware of or searching for the connections to the larger picture of reality as a whole – what we often refer to as transcendence,” says Fr. Viscardi.

Dr. Bagot’s journey to Spring Hill is part of what he sees as a lifelong spiritual quest. “I came from little or no religious background and converted to Catholicism,” says Dr. Bagot. As I was trained by the Jesuits, I am indebted to the Jesuits, and feel it is my calling to give back to young students.”

His passion for the study of peace-building and conflict resolution is, in part, a response to Bagot’s own father’s involvement as a WWII officer in the British navy. “Because of the war, and in response to witnessing my father’s pain, educating students has become a way for me to reconcile my faith in humanity and teach from a profoundly Christian perspective.

“I begin the first day of my Religion and International Politics lecture with a statement: ‘Welcome to the most important class you’ll ever have at Spring Hill.’ This gets a few raised eyebrows, but the truth is that we live in an increasingly globalized world that is getting smaller every day,” Dr. Bagot explains. “As 80 percent of the world’s people profess to believe in some form of higher being, it is imperative that people of different faiths learn to build a common good together and live in peace and harmony. As global citizens, we have to learn about each other; we have to build a better future. The alternative is unthinkable.”

Fr. Viscardi adds that Dr. Bagot is “completely down to earth in his conviction that education should be an experience of learning, growth and personal maturity, not just memorizing and making good grades. He is always ready to explore the ways in which we are all, always living in communion with one another and the entire universe, in search of genuine well-being.”

Dr. Bagot is quick to share the Moody award with his colleagues and fellow faculty members. “I stand on the shoulders of giants,” Dr. Bagot says. “I am indebted to my mentors at Boston College, Dr. Switzer, Fr. Viscardi, and Dr. Stephen Wilson.”

He adds that coming to Spring Hill College has been the perfect fit. “I wanted to teach Catholic ethics, and Spring Hill has a rich history in my field of social justice. In addition, the campus is a small and intimate environment, making it possible for me to teach, conduct research, and spend time mentoring my students. I felt at home from the first moment I stepped on campus.”