Faculty Spotlight: Joseph Bentz

by Sarah Reinhart '10

Award-winning author and APU professor in the Department of English since 1991, Joseph Bentz, Ph.D., combines a sense of humor, a vast expertise, and a genuine concern for his students to create a stimulating and enjoyable environment in each of his classes. In addition to his friendly and approachable demeanor, his involvement in the professional writing community and extensive knowledge of literature make him a valuable resource, especially for English students.

“Passion for literature and love of empowering others are just two of the amazing qualities that make Dr. Bentz a brilliant professor. He ignites his students’ desire to learn through discussion and his own enthusiasm, while also giving students the tools to continue into graduate school or become novelists. He is a blessing in both a student’s present and future,” said Kimberly Wilcox ’09, who took classes from Bentz while at APU.

Besides his easygoing and witty personality, students love Bentz because of how he exposes them to new worlds of composition and literature. “I encourage students to try different kinds of writing, even types that may be out of their comfort zone. They may discover a love for another type of writing that would have gone unrealized had they not tried it,” commented Bentz. “I also love to see students enjoy the authors that I assign in class. It’s fun to see them develop an interest in literature.”

In addition to teaching, Bentz spends a considerable amount of time working on personal writing projects. To date, he has authored four novels and three nonfiction, Christian living books, the latest of which, titled God in Pursuit: The Tipping Points from Faith to Doubt, released in 2010. His novel, A Son Comes Home, won the Silver Angel Award and was named one of Booklist’s Top Ten Christian Novels in 1999. This summer, he is working on two more—a novel and another nonfiction work. Recently, he won a Dean’s Accomplished Scholar Award, an annual grant given by APU to faculty members with specific research topics and project ideas related to their work at the university. The grant essentially replaces the time the recipient would spend teaching one course during a given semester in order to give them the freedom to work on their proposed research and special projects. Bentz will utilize this opportunity during the Spring 2011 semester.

Bentz is grateful to be a part of a community that does not make him choose between teaching and writing—his “two great loves.” “APU has always been very supportive of my writing,” he said. This support comes not only from the thousands of students he has impacted, but from his like-minded, scholarly colleagues in the Department of English. However, one of his favorite parts about teaching at APU is the daily interaction with students. “I really enjoy the students here,” he said. “I look forward to going to class each day because my students make that experience enjoyable by being willing to learn.”