Alternate tracks bring professors to UH campuses
with Robert Hochstein
The hard, dangerous life of coal miners and steelworkers held no appeal for Pennsylvania native Robert Hochstein. A high school stint as a radio announcer led to a stage career that paid for his college education.
Hochstein worked in TV as news anchor and in production jobs that included program director for Dick Clark Productions. It was financially rewarding, but Hochstein says he felt "an enormous need to give something back."
So for the past 15 years, he has developed and taught in Leeward Community College’s television production program, earning the UH Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching, the state’s Outstanding Postsecondary Vocational Education Program award and a National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Excellence Award.
Long an advocate for creating a film school at UH, he hopes to collaborate on the proposed system-wide Academy for Creative Media. But he won’t neglect the Leeward students. "I couldn’t trust this program in the hands of anybody else. I mean, I literally gave birth to it," he says.
with Ben Moffat
After earning a bachelor’s degree in English from New York’s Vassar College, Ben Moffat joined the University of Hawai'i at Manoa’s MFA program in theater, attracted by its expertise in Asian theater, puppetry and masks.
"I just wanted to work in theater because I loved it so much. I knew that if someone had to make a living at it, it might as well be me," he says. He still performs, with stilts and masks in a group called Monkey and the Waterfall that is developing Still on My Back III, for performance in the summer.
His fascination with masks fills his home as well; he has more than 200 that he describes as intriguing and mystical. A near drowning while rafting the Colorado river taught him the fragility of life, so he pushes students at Windward Community College to take risks, daring them to perform in front of each other.
"Sometimes extreme experiences are our best teachers," he says. "I’ve watched my students grow and become more confident after taking my course. Theater gives people a sense of possibility in the world. It’s all about taking the risk."
with Robert Wehrman
The first student to receive a doctorate in music from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa Robert Wehrman fully intended to be a full-time composer.
It seemed predestined. His mother recalls his fascination with music from a tender age. "She says common nursery rhymes never satisfied me, and I would always make up my own," the Maui Community College instructor of music recalls.
Over the years he mastered several instruments, but it was the synthesizer that spoke to his creative spirit. Wehrman became a national expert on MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) and digital music composition, wrote for Keyboard Magazine and worked for electronic musical instrument manufacturers.
Eventually, he recognized his affinity for showing people how to do things. "I chose music, but teaching chose me," he says. He’s now an advocate for arts education. "The humanities helps the average student relate to people and makes them more of a whole person," he explains.
Wehrman’s radio show, Mirror of the New, airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on Hawai'i Public Radio, 88.1 KHPR in Honolulu, 90.7 KKUA in Wailuku and 91.1 KANO in Hilo.