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Charles Taylor fulfills childhood dream by sharing his passion for teaching and learning with students

August 9, 2016

Charles Taylor
Charles Taylor

By the time he was in the fourth grade, Virginia Tech professor Charles Taylor knew he was destined to become a teacher. By high school, his dream of teaching K-12 students morphed into a yearning to teach college students.

It was his teachers, Taylor said, that inspired him to become a teacher. And it’s his students and colleagues who have kept him in the field for 54 years.

Taylor is one of seven Virginia Tech employees who are being honored for 45 years of service to Virginia Tech. He was recognized during the 2016 Service Recognition Program this spring.

The South Carolina native arrived at Virginia Tech in 1970 as a professor in the Department of Political Science after starting his teaching career at the College of William and Mary in 1962, followed by four years on the research faculty at Yale University.

During his career, Taylor has published six books and edited 19 additional volumes on political measurement and European politics.

But one of the best things about his job, he said, is being able to share his enthusiasm for learning with his students, in the classroom and abroad.

During the past 45 years, he’s lived in Scotland, Germany, Hungary, and Riva San Vitale, Switzerland. In the spring semesters of 1995 and 2005, he taught European Politics at the Virginia Tech Steger Center for International Scholarship in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland.

He’s also spent 10 summers teaching Virginia Tech students at the Foundation for International Education in Kensington in London. The opportunity for his students to talk with members of the British Parliament was a memorable experience, he said.

His students and colleagues agree that Taylor has made a lasting impression on Virginia Tech students during his 45-year career at the university.

“Charles has made, and continues to make, a tremendous impression on hundreds of Virginia Tech's students,” said Timothy Luke, university distinguished professor of political science. “He has imparted his political insights to a host of soon-to-be United States military officers, diplomatic servants, and corporate executives, as well as a United States defense secretary and a British senior cabinet secretary who are among the many students who recall his passion for teaching.”

“Professor Taylor was one of my favorite professors that I have had at Virginia Tech,” said senior Dakota McManus from Williamsburg, Virginia. “His teaching style truly helped me develop an understanding of the way key governments of the world run. Without his class I would not be as culturally aware as I am today.”

Taylor has a bachelor’s degree in history from Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tennessee, and a master’s degree and doctorate in international relations from Yale University. 

Written by Mackenzie Nicely, a senior from Lexington, Virginia, majoring in public relations and political science.

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