Recruiting students from across the U.S., Campus is the new alternative to online community college. Our online associate degree in business program consists of 100% live, online classes taught by professors who also teach at top-ranked colleges and universities. Read on to learn more about our talented teaching team.
Dr. Thomas Hitchner, in addition to teaching in the Campus online associate degree in business program, is also a remarkable instructor in the Writing Program at UCLA. With 15 years of teaching experience in the UC system, Dr. Hitchner has devoted his career to fostering growth among emerging writers.
Aside from academics, Dr. Hitchner stands out with a background in stand-up comedy and humor writing, which he deftly blends into his teaching style. He offers a unique learning environment where students leverage shared cultural experiences, like food, to hone their writing skills and prepare them for their future academic endeavors.
Before the pandemic, Dr. Hitchner gained experience with online tutoring in a writing center, which involved one-on-one interactions with students. However, it wasn't until the lockdown that he began conducting full-fledged online classes.
Throughout his time teaching remotely, Dr. Hitchner noted that while teaching in a virtual environment came with its own unique set of challenges, it also allowed students to continue their learning with a more flexible option.
“Being able to adapt to the reality that gathering everyone in one place isn't always practical or possible for some individuals means that there's great amount of access afforded by online education,” Dr. Hitchner stated. “It seems to me that rather than just complaining about the things that make it more difficult, it's incumbent on me and other instructors to do our best to make it work and find the ways that we can, as best as possible, recreate that classroom environment in an online setting.”
Keeping access to education for students in mind, when Dr. Hitchner was approached about an opening for teaching at Campus, he was excited to be part of a new opportunity to build a program that supports students.
“It was exciting to have the opportunity to teach in a new program that would be starting from the ground floor,” Dr. Hitchner shared. “In teaching at Campus, I've found that my hopes have been fulfilled, which were that students have an opportunity to take college classes who often wouldn't be able to.”
Dr. Hitchner's first-hand experience in seeing the need for accessible online education for college students made him a natural fit for our incredible Campus faculty. Additionally, as one of the first professors to join the Campus faculty network, Dr. Hitchner has had a hand in helping us to create the engaging online learning environment we have today.
“There are definitely plenty of challenges we're dealing with and things that we are figuring out, but that's exciting too,” Dr. Hitchner said. “I get to feel like I am helping to mold and shape and contribute to a given program rather than feeling like the whole institution is just set in stone and I'm just a cog there.”
On Open Discussion and the Writing Process
One of the challenges that Dr. Hitchner mentioned in adapting to teaching online is creating an environment where students feel encouraged to engage with the course material and with each other. With that in mind, Dr. Hitchner reflects on his own college experiences and how they can be applied to his classes today.
During his bachelor’s program at Sarah Lawrence College, a small liberal arts school, he saw how the focus on open-ended discussion throughout the program had a profound effect on his learning experience. Two former professors in particular left a deep impression on him and have significantly shaped his own teaching approach.
“Both of [the professors] really excelled because they were very patient. They didn't rush in to fill in the answers if no one was talking,” Dr. Hitchner stated. “I think the sort of confidence to be able to give the floor over to the students and the knowledge and experience to then use student contributions in a productive way is something that I'm always trying to emulate. To me, that's like the ideal for teaching.”
Dr. Hitchner’s teaching style today echoes his teaching ideals. In his English Composition classes at Campus, he facilitates discussions with his students that allow them to interact in meaningful ways that both expand their understanding of writing and enrich Dr. Hitchner’s approach.
“[Students] will come back with things I hadn't thought of or make points building off of each other that I wouldn't have been able to just unpack on my own,” Dr. Hitchner highlighted. “Even sometimes when presenting something that I think of as me having all the right answers.”
Seeing students grow in their knowledge of writing inspires Dr. Hitchner. Not only does it give him hope for the future, but the developments his students make in their understanding of writing also mirror a key aspect of writing in practice.
“It models something important about writing, which is it's rarely something that you can do all in one go,” Dr. Hitchner shared. “It takes repeated voices and additional eyes on the project, more thoughts working together. Whether what you're writing is really collaborative or not, it still is something that’s rarely just your brain on one pass. Rather, it’s something that you build with other people. That is why I come to work every day.”
Dr. Hitchner’s Philosophy of the Poker Face
Outside of the classroom, Dr. Hitchner’s passion for writing is explored in a variety of projects. Most notably, he is currently writing a book on the philosophy of stoicism and how it applies to playing poker.
When we asked him what sparked his interest, he shared that in addition to playing poker for many years, he also discovered Stoicism about 10 years ago and found it to be the first school of philosophy that he felt “really spoke to how the world seemed to be.” Over time, as Dr. Hitchner consumed more poker content and read more pieces from Stoics, he noticed how the two subjects fit together really well.
“Poker is a game of chance, but where the whole skill involved in the game is not just knowing what those chances are, but being able to weather it when the chance goes against you,” Dr. Hitchner said. “And the whole essence of stoic philosophy is ‘what we can't control can't really be bad, right or good.’ What we consider good or bad is using our own faculty of reason and consideration in the way that is appropriate, which means not reacting to losing a poker hand other than this is what happened.”
Despite understanding how the philosophy of Stoicism can benefit poker players at any level of experience, Dr. Hitchner notes that it is still extremely difficult to master. While he acknowledges that he has room to grow in his own poker playing, he also highlights how it has helped him and could help others, too.
“It seems like an enduring philosophy like [Stoicism] could really be helpful to people in improving their reactions to events,” Dr. Hitchner shared. “It's helped me in any event, even though I've got a long way to go. I have no idea what will happen with it, but it's fun to write, it's fun to look into, and it's just a fun project to talk about because people don't see it coming.”
The Smart Way to Launch Your College Career
The Campus online associate degree in business program helps students knock out the first two years of college and supports them as they prepare for life after graduation.
Want to attend classes led by mission-driven educators like Dr. Thomas Hitchner? Apply now to be part of the next trailblazing cohort of the Campus program today.