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A Student–Professor Partnership and a Successful Book


When Chris Takacs ‘05 entered Hamilton he didn’t know exactly what sociology was. That changed; he went to pursue a doctorate in sociology at the University of Chicago. He also co-authored a successful book with a man who was one of his Hamilton professors, Dan Chambliss, the Eugene M. Tobin Distinguished Professor of Sociology.

Chambliss had a hand in setting Takacs on the sociology path. The first step was when Takacs took a popular sociology class called “American Society.” When he did well in it, Chambliss invited him to take part in a higher-level sociology seminar. Takacs felt honored. He didn’t know what it would be like but decided to find out. It was a good move.

“And Dan was a great teacher,” says Takacs, who knows better than most the value of a great teacher to student success. He would go on to write a book about it with Chambliss. As an undergraduate, Takacs began doing research with the professor, and it was a partnership that endures. They co-wrote How College Works, published in 2014 by Harvard Press.

The book shows, among other findings, the critical importance of students’ relationships with professors to their college success. Takacs says his own path exemplifies the book’s findings. Hamilton has an exceptional level of high-quality teachers who have that positive influence, in his experience.

“It was true for me, it was true for a lot of my friends,” he says.

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