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April 18, 2022

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Linda Quinlan, Associate Professor of English

  • Ed.D. Teaching and Curriculum, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
  • M.A. English Literature, University of Toronto, Ontario, CA
  • B.A. English, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY

What brought you to Roberts?

After living five years in Wichita, Kansas, my family returned home to Rochester. I applied for an open faculty position in Roberts’ Language and Literature department and was pleased to get it. I’ve been teaching here for 28 years.

When did you become interested in English?

For as long as I can remember, I was always a voracious reader.

My parents encouraged me by giving me many books. My dear dad took me to the public library once a week and let me run loose! I think this background prepared me for the study of literature.

I turned to teaching because my love for what I was learning made me want to share it with others.

How do you serve the community at Roberts?

I serve most through my teaching and consider it a true privilege to work with our wonderful students. I also chair the Faculty Development Committee and have just been elected to serve my fourth term on the Faculty Senate.

In addition, I helped create our Gender Studies Minor and serve as a support person for students who have experienced gender-based mistreatment and violence.

What inspired you to help create the Gender Studies minor?

I'm passionate about the field of gender studies because gender relationships permeate every aspect of human experience. Since Roberts desires to prepare students to be positive transformational agents in our world, it is important to offer a program that allows students to better understand the gender dynamics that have shaped (and continue to shape social, economic, and religious thought and behavior).

What’s it like to be a teacher during a pandemic?

Our students are amazing! I have been so impressed by their willingness to wear their masks these many months. I also appreciate their adaptability as they faced varying forms of instruction (online, hybrid, in-person) – often a mix of the three.

Honestly, I am concerned about the mental stress and strain on our students. I think their anxiety and depression levels have drastically increased. I see it in my classes. I try hard to offer opportunities for students to discuss how things are going and to remind them of available resources they can turn to for help.

Share an academic highlight from your time at Roberts.

I am proud of the fact that a number of years ago, I revamped our college writing program’s approach to developmental (struggling) writers.

At the time, these students were required to take a non-credit course before they were allowed to take Principles of Writing (POW). I proposed we create a special section of POW in which I would modify the instruction to meet the students’ needs. I would also pair each student with a peer tutor.

It proved to be successful. All the students passed the course and received full credit. We offered these special sections until 2016 when it was determined they were no longer needed.

What is your favorite thing about teaching?

My students! I am continually in awe of their intelligence, curiosity, dedication, and humor!

I love to hear what they’re thinking and how they’re processing what they’re learning. And I am always learning from them too.


If you could make everyone understand one thing about your subject, what would it be and why?

Perhaps the most important reason to study literature is to gain awareness and appreciation of the world beyond your own front door.

When you read a short story, a play, or a poem, you are offered insights into the human experience - about the life challenges that have perplexed, amazed, delighted, and moved people for centuries. You are called to think about your own life and your relationships with others.

If you become engaged with - open to - what you read, you may discover surprising connections between you and the literary works you encounter.

Share your favorite story of a student who has been spiritually transformed.

Years ago, I had a student in my Principles of Writing course who couldn’t seem to get his act together. He missed class often, turned in assignments late, and was perpetually distracted and distracting in class. I liked him but found him exasperating! Furthermore, he seemed so sad and walked with his head down most of the time.

Somehow, he barely passed my class. I did not see him again for three years. Just before graduation, a smiling young man knocked at my door and asked if I remembered him. It took me a minute, but then I recognized him.

He was completely different from the student I knew in his freshman year. He stood tall and told me he wanted to apologize for, in his words, being such a disaster in my class. He shared that he had been badly struggling to adapt to college, to understand his beliefs, and to figure out why he was here.

He then said, “Roberts turned my life around. My friends and my teachers showed me so much about how Christ loves me and how blessed I am to follow Him.”

As a result, he changed to a Ministry major and had recently been hired by a nearby church to be a youth pastor. I will never forget the warmth and radiance of his face as he told me of his hopes for the future. I was so touched he stopped by to show me how much he had grown.


What is an interest you have outside of teaching?

Probably a little cliche for a literature professor, but I love to read as much and as often as I can. One of my favorite books is Middlemarch by George Eliot, a 19th century novel that beautifully examines the importance of human connection.

What is your favorite quote?

I love Mary Oliver’s beautiful question: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Student Insights

Lily Sluk’22 (Childhood and Special Education)


"Having Dr. Quinlan as a professor was truly a highlight of my time at Roberts. I admire how she always makes time for her students and supports them academically and beyond. She has modeled to me how to be a confident and caring teacher. I feel honored to have had Dr. Quinlan as not only a professor but now as a friend."

Adriana Fitzwater’22 (Childhood and Special Education)

Adriana Fitzwater

"Dr. Quinlan is genuinely one of my favorite humans. She goes above and beyond for her students because she wants to see us become the best versions of ourselves. She puts a strong emphasis on supporting diversity and making all feel welcome and heard.

"Dr. Quinlan is compassionate, brilliant, humble, and is truly an expert in her field. She has inspired me to dream bigger and has made a lasting positive impact on my life.”

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