Rebecca W. Bilbo, Ph.D.
Professor and Department Head, Art
Q. What do you want students to take away from your class?
A. A fascination and curiosity for looking at art in their world.
Q. How long have you worked at TMC?
A. Is this a trick question? It depends when you start the count. I first taught a modern art class at Thomas More College when I was still a grad student at UC in the early 1980s. I taught as an adjunct during the 1980s and in 1993, I took over as department chair after the death of Darrell Brothers. But I didn’t sign my first full-time contract until the fall of 1996.
Q. Where did you obtain your degree/degrees?
A. I grew up in upstate New York and it never even occurred to me to go outside New York State for anything. I went to a huge public high school so a small private liberal arts college was very appealing to me. The new fine arts center at Nazareth College, was a powerful magnet as I was also interested in studying music and I had already developed a love of the theater. It was only 78 miles from my home. The art education program at Nazareth College had an excellent reputation and that ultimately was my choice of majors. After relocating to Cincinnati, I entered the master’s program in art history at the University of Cincinnati fully intending to move back to New York State. It was well after I started teaching art history at Thomas More College that I decided to go back for my Ph.D. in art history at Indiana University.
Q. Are there any special awards or accolades that you want to mention?
A. Since I always wanted to be a teacher, the Thomas More College Part-Time Teacher of the Year Award in 1996, is my most cherished honor.
Q. What is something that you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t had the chance to do yet?
A. Play basketball for the NBA.
Q. Where was your last vacation – and why did you choose that destination?
A. Actually, I am on vacation as I write this! I have had so many travel opportunities over the years through Thomas More College and with my family. I have taken students to Spain with Professor Garriga and every two years I work with Professor Dwyer to take students to Paris to study art, the French language and French culture, and I organize a trip for art students to New York almost every year. But this summer I am traveling around the American West. Yesterday I climbed the amazing rock formations at Arches National Park in Utah, and viewed the Colorado River from the red walls of a 100-foot canyon. My family has a second home here, so the mountains are a very nice place to be when the temperature in Cincinnati hits 90.
Q. What is something about you that people would be surprised to know?
A. I was one of the tallest girls in my class – in the fourth grade.
Q. Who has been (or is) your role model? And why?
A. Sarah Burns from Indiana University and other outstanding teachers that I have had in my life.
Q. What are your hobbies – or what do you do when you’re not teaching at TMC?
A. Some of the things I like best to do during my spare time are remarkably similar to what I do when I am working: look at art and go to the symphony and theater. I also read a lot and can think of nothing better on a snowy day that sinking into a great book; that is if I am not downhill skiing on fresh powder (see answer #6 – vacation). I also spend a significant amount of time practicing yoga.
Q. What has teaching at TMC taught you?
A. Oh, so much. I love working around others who know so much about all different subjects, especially those I know little about.
Q. What song or artist do you listen to when you need to get motivated?
A. Music isn’t necessarily a great motivator for me, as it often is for athletes. Maybe I like to sit too much. Maybe I seek inspiration more often that I do motivation. If you asked what CD (and yes I am the kind of person who still listens to CDs) was in my CD player, I would say probably one by Over the Rhine.
Q. What book is on your nightstand? Or, do you have a favorite book?
A. Today? I usually have several going at the same time and I also have a long queue. I just finished Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and since I am presently in Colorado, I am reading Wallace Stenger’s Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West.
Q. As a child, what did you want to be when you “grew up?”
A. Always – a teacher.
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