Meet Dr. Henry Hall, a DVC legend


Taylor Pagan

Dr. Henry Hall joking about D2L

Taylor Pagan, Staff member

Humanities professor Dr. Henry Hall, 84-years-old and a Diablo Valley College student alumni himself, enters his 46th year of teaching.

Upon leaving the army, Hall enrolled at DVC, then called East Contra Costa Junior College, in 1953. It was here that Hall was exposed to the philosophical influences that have since shaped his entire life.

DVC created an educational community among local military veterans like Hall. With most professors being ex-servicemen themselves, the student-teacher relationship was rooted in “deep, pure, outrageous affection.”

“Being a student here, the faculty was extraordinary,” Hall says. “Here you were an individual.”

As opposed to the army, DVC promoted a “thinking culture.”

“You don’t just say ‘yes,’ but you think, you do research and you come up with your own opinions,” says Hall, crediting his DVC humanities professor and most influential mentor Dr. Herman Chrisman as the source for such inspiration.

“In fact, I honor him by wearing this bow-tie,” Hall says. “He made me feel like a son.”

After leaving DVC in 1954, Hall transferred to San Francisco State University, received a bachelors degree in philosophy, a masters degree in humanities and later received a Ph.D. in higher education from the University of California Berkeley.

Holding a high regard and a preference for DVC, the college where he first got his start, Hall decided to come back and start working as a student teacher in 1967 and was hired as an official faculty member in 1968, a position he has held for almost five decades.

Hall’s favorite focus of humanities is philosophy, particularly the works of Plato, Aristotle and Socrates. Hall says his primary passion has been teaching his students how to truly think for themselves.

“Everyone asks questions,” he says, “No answers will fit those questions.”

Ben Reyoso, a student of Hall’s says, “His class is different and definitely one of the most interesting classes I’ve ever taken.”

Shunsuke Asami, 24, says, “He is a very funny guy, always making jokes and making us laugh.”

DVC humanities professor and department Chair Jacqueline Halm has worked with Hall since 1988 and can attest to his kind humor and his loyalty.

“He is a delightful man, a delightful person,” Halm says. “I love Henry because he is the one voice who is still here through generations of the life of the college.”

Fellow humanities professor Ruth Miller says, “He’s an absolute treasure whose life example embodies both the values of DVC and our disciplines of philosophy and humanities.”

Hall intends to continue working at DVC and using that admired voice for as long as he possibly can.

“DVC has been the love of my life. I credit DVC as the foundation for all of the successes I’ve enjoyed in education and in life,” Hall says.

Holding off retirement until he can beat the current long standing tenure record, Hall is determined to leave a legacy of inspiration in the same way that his own DVC professors, from 1954, imprinted an everlasting influence on him.

Editor’s note: In the first edition of this article, we thought that one of the quotes by Jacqueline Halm may have been misunderstood. We have now edited it to be the entire quote in which she said, instead of the paraphrased version. Our apologizes for the mistake.