Teacher feature: Robert Hoff

Professor Robert Hoff has chaired the psychology department since the major was founded in 1970.

He joined the Mercyhurst College community in 1969, “right after Woodstock,” he said. He was the first full-time psychology instructor on campus.

Hoff was born in New York City. He completed his graduate studies at the University of Minnesota and specialized in experimental psychology of learning and psychopharmacology.

Hoff has a passion for teaching.

“I love to engage and challenge students,” he said. “When the classroom conversations really get rolling, sparks start to fly, and the conversation can go into uncharted waters.”

Mercyhurst has awarded Hoff the Teaching Excellence Award, but he does not consider the honor his greatest achievement in his career. He takes pride in watching students develop their own careers.

“Often students start at Mercyhurst College and they don’t know what they want to do,” he said. “In psychology especially, there are so many ways to go.”

Hoff takes interest in helping students pursue their interests and find a suitable career. He looks for that spark in each student.

In the classroom, Hoff tries to incorporate discussions that promote critical thinking and help students develop solid questions. Hoff considers these abilities the most crucial skills for undergraduate students.

The class discussions allow Hoff to determine the engagement of the students and sometimes open conversations in ways that allow him to learn things from the students.

Hoff compares the process to jazz music, which he said, “is all about improvisation.”

Off of campus, Hoff pursues his interest in music, which grew from his own college experience as a radio show host. He now hosts JazzFlight,a nightly jazz program on WQLN.

Hoff married Darlene Melchitzky, a biology laboratory director and research assistant at the college, and raised a daughter who now teaches as a professor of public health at Yale University.