With his impeccable sense of style and charming aroma of David Beckham’s new scent, Dr. Ian Werrett inspires students at Saint Martin’s University to look their best for class. However, that is not all he inspires.
Many students would admit that they are, at first, not extremely enthused about the requirement of a Religious Studies course that goes along with attending a Catholic University. In the beginning of each class Werrett teaches, he explains that his goal is to “make students want to take another Religious Studies class.” Countless students would agree that he was successful in transforming their outlook on the subject.
“If it’s not fun for me, it’s not fun for the class,” Werrett explained. “If it comes through that I’m interested with some passion, humor, and some seriousness, I think people can connect with that. I teach the way I would like to be taught.”
At only the age of 37, Dr. Werrett is extremely accomplished. He has recently published a book, “Ritual Purity and the Dead Sea Scrolls,” written seven book reviews, and three articles. He is the Director of the Spiritual Life Institute, Chair of the Catholic Benedictine Leadership Team, and is an expert on the Hebrew Scriptures, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Ancient Judaism. He has worked on the Dead Sea Scrolls in Jerusalem.
Werrett has also given academic papers in Scotland, Sweden, Finland, Holland, Israel, Canada, and the United States, and has just recently returned from Boston where he presented his paper, “The Evidence at our Disposal: Essenes, Latrines, and the Dead Sea Scrolls,” in which he was the first person within the scholarly community to refute the confirmation of the Essenes in Qumran due to the recent finding of ancient latrines.
Dr. David Suter, professor of Religious Studies at Saint Martin’s, had a large influence on Werrett when he was a student, inspiring him to specialize in the Dead Sea Scrolls. However, even when he was a child, he had developed an interested in archeology.
“When I was young, I went to the King Tut travelling exhibit, and in the last room I saw his death mask,” Werrett illustrated. “It was beautiful; almost perfect. It had a huge impact on me and opened me up to archeology.”
At the moment, Werrett is in the process of learning Hieroglyphics and preparing to study in Egypt. He also knows biblical Hebrew, Qumran Hebrew, New Testament Greek, Aramaic, and a little of both Spanish and French.
“I would eventually like to teach Hebrew as a class, and possible Greek,” Werrett anticipated. It is evident that the man has been around.
Werrett started his college career at West Valley College in San Jose, attended Santa Clara University for a year, then lived in Scotland for six months. He also played soccer at Trinity Western University in Canada for two years, and played one year at South Puget Sound Community College before attending SMU. He also coached soccer at Capital High School for three years, and in 2006, he earned a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies and Second Temple Judaism from the University of St. Andrews.
So, how does a man with so much going on keep himself looking spick and span?
“This is not an accident,” he explained. “From the age of 19 to 21, I was the manager of a Benetton in San Jose in a really upscale mall. I’ve always been interested in clothing. The problem with Olympia is that you can’t get good clothes!” His advice for those who really want to look classy for class is to shop in Seattle, L.A. or New York.
Along with his teaching style, Werrett’s ability to relate to students, whether it is through their style, sense of humor, athletics, or lifestyle, helps him to grasp their attention and make his classes interesting.
“I have to keep it light. If I go spitting facts, people will fall asleep,” Werrett described. “Some only tune in when you’re doing something stupid, and if it means that their interested, I’m not above stooping to that level. Sometimes you have to say things to grab their attention, then you can give them the goods.”