How Your Professors Spend Their Free Time

How Your Professors Spend Their Free Time

Exceptional faculty members. That’s what distinguishes the best colleges and universities. And the College of Charleston’s faculty fits that description perfectly. Our professors are renowned as teacher-scholars. Some have been recognized with impressive accolades, including numerous Fulbright and Guggenheim Fellowships, along with one MacArthur genius grant. But many professors at the College also distinguish themselves in other ways. Here’s a closer look at three of them:


Hector Qirko, center, jamming with Roger Bellow (left) and Kevin Crothers (right)

Meet anthropology professor Hector Qirko. Academic by day, guitarist by night, Qirko just released his second solo album – “Field Notes.” That’s actually one of 16 albums he has recorded, not including studio work for other musicians.

Ask him how long he’s been performing and Qirko laughs, saying “Too long. My first professional stint was playing rhythm and slide guitar for Lonnie Brooks in Chicago in the ‘70s.” (Brooks is now in the Blues Hall of Fame.) Qirko later moved to Tennessee and continued performing, including appearing on a number of music television programs.

Though his academic research specialties include popular culture and organizational ethnography, Qirko leans toward blues and folk when it comes to music. What’s his style? “I’m drawn to the blues most of all – and I mean Chicago electric blues in particular. That influences everything else, but my solo recordings are more broadly ‘rootsy,’ or Americana. There’s a lot of folk and bluegrass in there too.”

Find Qirko’s tunes online via iTunes, Amazon or CD Baby. He also offers a couple of free downloads on Soundcloud, and you can always check out his website –


Jannette Finch at the finish of a recent half Iron Man competition.

Then there’s Jannette Finch, librarian for the College’s North Campus and the Lowcountry Graduate Center. Finch is an ardent triathlete, having competed actively in this grueling sport for the past 17 years. Last year she traveled to Dublin, Ireland, to compete in a half Iron Man event. That’s a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run – all completed back-to-back on a single day.

Finch has actually competed in half Iron Man competitions each year for the past eight years in places as distant as Honduras, San Diego and Rhode Island. But what is likely her biggest achievement is that in 2012 she finished a full Iron Man competition – that’s a 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride, culminating in a 26.2-mile run.

These days, Finch is enjoying the offseason by doing a lot of backpacking. But when February rolls around, she’ll be back at it, training to compete in yet another test of her fitness, stamina and mental fortitude. Next spring, she’ll be swimming, biking and running at a triathlon yet to be determined — so competitors everywhere, you’ve been warned.

And, finally, meet R. Grant Gilmore, who directs the College’s program in historic preservation and community planning. You wouldn’t know it, but he’s a certified rescue diver. Gilmore has been diving for nearly 27 years, mostly in waters around the Caribbean, Florida and the UK. Though he has never actually been called to assist in an underwater rescue, he has had a few hairy diving adventures. One, he says, took place in 43-degree water off the southwestern coast of the UK.


Grant Gilmore diving with his wife Joanna.

“There was almost zero visibility at about 150 feet deep as we were diving on a shipwreck. I was fortunate to be with two very experienced divers. Though we didn’t realize it at the time, we had entered the ship’s cargo hold just about when we hit the limit of our air supply. We had to ascend slowly to decompress properly, but because of the depth and the cold, we each suffered nitrogen narcosis. Luckily, none of the effects were long-lasting, so our rescue training served us well.”

For additional faculty profiles, check out Our Faculty online.