The secret to being a successful professor, says Lisa DiBartolomeo, is genuinely caring about the subject and the students you teach—along with hard work.

DiBartolomeo is a Morgantown native who attended WVU as an undergraduate. After earning her M.Litt. in Russian Literature from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and her Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she decided to build her career as an academic here because of her deep love for WVU. “It’s such a wonderful place for providing access to students from all over our state, and all over our world, to come and learn about people, places, and ideas they may never have encountered,” she raves.

At WVU, DiBartolomeo coordinates the Russian Studies and the Slavic and East European Studies programs. She teaches courses on subjects ranging from vampires in traditional and pop culture to Russian fairy tales to Holocaust literature and film.

“It’s all intensely interesting to me,” she says. “Learning about the humanities helps everyone at all stages of life be better people, be better consumers of information, be better citizens and voters and participants in everyday life.”

DiBartolomeo has been teaching “forever.” “I started coaching little kids at hockey when I was an undergrad, and it’s continued since then.” But it wasn’t until college when she had a class with her mentor, Marilyn Bendena, that she realized that academia was where she wanted to be.

Although keeping students—and sometimes even colleagues—engaged can often be a challenge, DiBartolomeo says being passionate about the subject helps.

“I also try to consider different learning styles and use different media and materials,” she says. “If you can keep a majority interested by having a thought provoking conversation, by showing a funny YouTube video and then discussing it, by telling an illustrative anecdote, then you’ve done well.” Clearly her methods are working. — JW