After lacking an academic instructor for nine weeks during the fall 2021 semester, UST students in the late professor Thomas Crow’s history course “Renaissance and Reformation” were able to complete the class thanks to a save by UST history professor Francesca Guerri.
Crow, who passed away on January 17, 2022, began the course asynchronously, but was soon battling health issues and his students found themselves in limbo, according to history major Kathy Seay.
Seay said she contacted and kept in communication with the Chair of the UST Department of History Thomas Behr, who was helping navigate the class amidst Crow’s absence.
“[Behr] was great. He did exactly what I expected him to do at a director level,” Seay said. “He was responsive. When he had information, he was good about being proactive to get it to us.”
Despite a rough start to the semester, Seay said the situation improved when Guerri started teaching the course.
Guerri began teaching as an adjunct professor at UST in the spring of 2021, and was hired as an assistant professor the following fall semester. She was then asked by Behr to teach Crow’s class mid-semester.
“Dr. Behr was fantastic,” Guerri said regarding his handling of the situation.
Guerri said she was nervous and felt a bit “overwhelmed” about teaching the course when Behr offered her the position. She prepared for the new task by watching all of Crow’s lectures to provide a smooth transition from his instruction to her own.
“I didn’t want to disrupt the class, to do something completely different,” Guerri said. “I wanted to continue his class with his idea.”
Guerri also met with the students to discuss what they expected from the class. Because of the short time left, she then tried to compress the learning material and work they had left to do.
She said that while preparing material on such short notice was challenging, she was happy with the outcome.
“They were all very passionate about the Renaissance, about history, and I thank God for that opportunity,” Guerri said.
Seay said she and her classmates were anxious about the outcome of the class, especially because some had stringent scholarship requirements to comply with.
By the time Guerri began teaching the class, only six students remained enrolled.
However, according to Seay, Guerri invested heavily in the class and its students, and successfully managed to get the students caught up after missing several weeks of lessons.
“She helped to assuage our fears about being able to manage the curriculum, [and] get the research work done… to her level of expectations,” Seay said.
Seay says that she, along with several other students in the class, went on to take more classes with Guerri as they were very impressed with her instruction and “infectious energy.”
“She is one of those rare people that you meet in life that you know you are never going to forget them because of the impact they have, not only on you academically, but you as a person,” Seay said.
Guerri said she hopes her students not only learn history, but become even more curious.
“When you study something beautiful, when you are excited about what you study, you can’t wait to tell everyone. This is the reason why I love teaching,” Guerri said.
Crow was a part of the committee that interviewed Guerri when she was in the hiring process. She says they had a “beautiful” conversation during her interview.
“He had this great love for teaching and for his students, so he wanted to continue even if he was sick,” Guerri said. “He was an amazing professor, I miss him deeply.”
Seay said she was sad to miss out on Crow’s teaching, as she had heard wonderful things about him, but was grateful for the teaching Guerri provided.
“What a gift,” Seay said about Guerri’s instruction.
This story was updated to correct the name of Kathy Seay. She was incorrectly identified as Kathy Sea in a previous version.