Equations by Day, Opera by Night
"As an engineering professor, my approach is to do my best to teach the whole person, and that's the aspect of the Villanova experience that I find most gratifying," says Dr. Francis P. "Frank" Hampton, who has won several awards for his musical performances in recent years. "As an opera tenor, on the other hand, I often find that the analytical skill I've developed while studying and teaching engineering is quite helpful in interpreting and shaping a piece for a live performance."
According to the doubly gifted Dr. Hampton, who attended the famed Juilliard School before signing on as a faculty member in the Villanova Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2005, the key to success in both fields is "finding the right balance so that I can encourage both sides of my nature to grow freely and spontaneously, while doing my best not to interfere with the process."
Indeed, for Assistant Professor Hampton—a PhD graduate of Drexel University who won the Villanova College of Engineering's Farrell Teaching Award in 2006—the struggle to properly balance his inner self is nothing less than "a spiritual journey" in which he must combine the logical thought processes of a civil engineer with the more intuitive, spontaneous mental functioning of an artist.
Ask the talented tenor how all of this double-mindedness fits into his teaching, and he won't miss a beat with his reply. "I really think it helps me in the classroom," he says, "as I do my best to assist my students—while always remembering St. Augustine's wonderful description of life’s ultimate goal: 'When I come to be united to thee with all my being, then there will be no more pain and toil for me, and my life shall be a real life, being wholly filled by thee.'" Then, after pausing to reflect for a moment, Dr. Hampton adds, "For me, reaching out to both sides of our human nature is what good teaching seems to be all about."