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Alumni Interview: Robert Bennett ’12

Robert Bennet DeskMajor: History and Ancient Studies
Current Occupation:
Executive Director of William Brinton 1704 House & Historic Site

In December 2013, I was fortunate to receive an invitation to join the Brinton Association of America as the new Executive Director of William Brinton 1704 House & Historic Site, and I was more than excited to accept the position, especially given the fact that the man who built the house in 1704 was the brother-in-law of my seven times great-grandfather!

In a history course at UMBC, the requisite research paper was to be about an historical aspect of your family. Knowing only very little about my family, I decided to research my father’s line, and was able to trace my lineage back to Ann Brinton, the sister of William Brinton, Jr. and the wife of early colonist John Bennett. After discovering this connection, my research sent me to the 1704 House; I was eager to see it.

My wife and I were able to spend a good deal of time with Executive Director, who gave us the deluxe tour. When I told her about my paper, she not only requested to read it, but also asked to send it to the board of directors. Additionally, she suggested contacting the president of the board so that I might introduce myself as a possible replacement, since she was retiring soon. That introduction led to a meeting with the president, followed by an interview with the executive committee. At this interview I received the offer to serve as Executive Director. Having been there since December 2013, I can say that I truly love having a personal connection to a public history, and presenting it to our visitors.

I believe three factors that were cultivated in the Honors College contributed to my receiving the job. Anyone who has ever taken an Honors seminar knows that, by the end of the semester, the abilities to think quickly, to speak well, and to write well will have been highly developed! I remember having to draw upon these skills in Dr. Ellen Spitz’s Great Books classes, my favorite Honors College courses taught by my favorite Honors College professor. She informed us on the first day that we would have to utilize these skills if we expected to do well in the class. If I were to offer advice to incoming Honors College students, it would be to allow the seminars to help refine critical thinking, speaking and writing elements as much as possible, because they will transition into important life skills.