Dr. Isaac Hunter ’04 has nostalgic memories of playing games with his father. Chess, foosball, darts, ping pong.
These days, around lunchtime, you can usually find Isaac on The College of Idaho’s tennis courts, competing against his dad— and C of I faculty colleague—Dr. Kerry Hunter.
Kerry, a professor of political economy, has taught at the C of I since 1988. With Isaac’s return to campus this fall, the College has its first ever full-time father-son teaching ensemble.
“I think it’s really meaningful to come back to old places, redefine your roles, and give back in a different way because that was your old stomping grounds,” Isaac said of his return after a 10-year hiatus.
After graduating from the C of I, Isaac earned his Ph. D. in counseling psychology from Colorado State University and spent several years in South Korea teaching English and working for a start-up company.
“I wanted to intentionally come back to this Northwest area,” Isaac said. “It was really cool to see that I could come back [to the College].”
For now, Isaac is a visiting psychology professor, but he hopes to return next fall in a tenured position. His father came to Caldwell in a similar fashion 26 years ago.
After a C of I professor took a leave of absence, Kerry filled his shoes as a visiting professor. During that year, the professor decided not to return, and the College searched for a tenured-track position. Kerry applied, but wasn’t informed he had won the job until the end of the school year.
“It was stressful because I wanted it so badly,” Kerry said.
Kerry, who had all three of his children go to school at the C of I, never thought he would one day teach alongside one of them.
“And definitely not with Isaac,” Kerry said, adding that Isaac isn’t the typical professor type. Out of all his children, Kerry thought his daughter might be a teacher.
“It’s a little bit of a struggle initially. Not that I look down on him, but this has kind of been my turf for 26 years,” Kerry said.
Both Hunters describe The College of Idaho as “a teacher’s paradise,” full of smart students who want to engage. Kerry said he spends more time talking to students outside the classroom than in it. Isaac, who also interviewed at the University of Idaho, came to the C of I because of the small class sizes.
“I want to push my students to grow as people, not just teach them psychology,” Isaac said.
Being a new professor has come with its own challenges, balancing work and life, Isaac said. But having familiar faces as colleagues—people who once were his professors—has made the transition easier.
“The fact that, ten years later, they still know my first name is a testament to the kind of education you get here and the connections you have,” Isaac said.
He also has leaned on the knowledge of his father.
“He’ll ask me things like, ‘How did you set up your syllabus,’ or ‘How do you make sure students are doing the reading and participating?’ ” Kerry said. One suggestion to his son included having a reading assignment due before class, in order to foster better discussion.
Isaac has set a high standard for himself, wanting to reach every student—something he learned by watching his father teach. Isaac remembers, as a kid, how his father strived to connect with every student in every class.
“It’s good when you don’t have to totally reinvent the wheel, but you can talk to someone that has been doing it for 26 years,” Isaac said. “And, I think, doing it pretty well.”