Reflections – Dr. Francis “Kito” Tobienne, Jr., IRT ’05


It was my final year studying and taking only honors courses in English through the Honors College at Michigan State University. I was looking into graduate study and came across one K. Kelly Wise and the Institute for Recruitment of Teachers (IRT). Accepted into their 2005 cohort, I remember attending the college fair at IRT on the campus of Phillips Academy, Andover and being told to stop by the Purdue University table  by then Mr. Wise. Why? It was his alma mater and I had the intellectual DNA to become a Boilermaker. That was in 2005, and in 2007 and 2013, respectively I obtained my Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Purdue University! En route, I have received literary and teaching awards, grants and stipends, the distinguished Purdue Doctoral Fellowship and even published a book: The Position of Magic In Selected Medieval Spanish Texts as a Master’s student through Cambridge Scholars Publishing. I do not share these accomplishments to boast in my own strength and erudition but to boast in the guidance and advising of now Dr. (Hon.) K. Kelly Wise and his team.

With the IRT’s mission and dedication of it’s programs to assist minorities with high intelligence and high intellectual promise, the IRT has flourished and my story is both witness and testament to that! I owe the IRT a lifetime of thanks.

Principles of the IRT have become further entrenched into my pedagogical agency. It is now a new year and as of 27 January 2020 much has transpired since I was a student. I have been able to teach English and Creative Writing at the secondary school level as well as Literary Criticism, Intellectual History and Medieval Studies at the post-secondary school level. I made the jump from Assistant Professor to Associate Dean of Academic Affairs using the critical thinking skills, in part, established by my time at IRT. I have now authored over 60 articles and essays, published three books, poetry, short stories, delivered The Phi Beta Kappa (ΦΒΚ) inaugural lectures at The London Society on the campus of University College London (UCL) and held research fellowships in England (The British Library, The Wellcome Library, The Warburg Institute), Ireland (Marsh’s Library) and America (Harvard Widener Library and Yale Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library).

I owe this unbelievable journey to the IRT who believed that I could make a difference. The IRT Program entrusted to my care: What will you do with your diversity? How will you instruct your generation and beyond? Further, it asked of me a perpetual answer in which my acquiescence paralleled my resolve: I teach because much has been given to me, and much more is asked from me. IRT placed this “yoke” on me and I am forever grateful, thankful. 

Dr. Tobienne is currently teaching English at Inspiration Academy in Florida. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University, The Honors College, his master’s and doctorate degree from Purdue University, and is currently studying at Harvard University. 

 The Phi Beta Kappa (ΦΒΚ) Honors Society Award-Nominated Books | Research

    • The Position of Magic in selected Medieval Spanish Texts | Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
    • Occultus: the hidden and macabre in literature & film | Cognella.
    • Mandeville’s Travails: merging travel, theory and commentary | Delaware UP.


One thought on “Reflections – Dr. Francis “Kito” Tobienne, Jr., IRT ’05”

  1. Dr. Tobienne, thank you so much for sharing these musings about your IRT experience and your educational journey overall; as an IRT alum and staff member going on four years of service, I find there is nothing more uplifting and fun than hearing the testimonials of other alumni. We, Inspiration, Harvard, and the field of education more broadly are all really lucky to have you!


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