Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Achim Kopp

As a professor of foreign languages and literatures, and the director of the Great Books Program, Dr. Achim Kopp has served Mercer University for more than 16 years.

The Mercer professor, a native of Germany, said, “I got all my schooling there: High school, followed by a graduate degree and Ph.D. at Heidelberg University.”

Kopp said that after he improved his English, the Heidelberg University sent him as an undergraduate student abroad to England, where he spent a year teaching German.

He later returned to Heidelberg to complete his undergraduate degree with a double major in Latin and English.

At the time of his England exchange, Kopp had already decided to go abroad again.

“I applied for an exchange to come to this country, and they sent me to Bucknell University in Pennsylvania for a year,” said Kopp.

For the duration of this graduate exchange, Kopp continued to instruct German as a teaching assistant.

Kopp’s exchange in America led him to his interest in the Pennsylvania Germans, who lived near Bucknell.

“I was interested in English linguistics and these people spoke a German dialect similar to my hometown dialect, which was fascinating to me,” said Kopp.

Having started some research on the way the Pennsylvania Germans speak English, Kopp returned to Germany, where he attained his Master’s Degree.

“My professor asked me if I was interested in turning my research into a Ph.D. dissertation,” said Kopp, who quickly enrolled in Heidelberg’s doctorate program and returned to America in 1989 to complete his research.

“I had to come back to Pennsylvania to conduct large amounts of fieldwork among the Amish, Mennonites and other Pennsylvania Germans.”

After receiving his doctorate, Kopp returned to the United States in 1994 to teach at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania.

He was hired by Mercer in 1997 as a professor of Latin.

Although formerly hoping to be a high school teacher of Latin and English in Germany, here at Mercer, Kopp is “really into classics.”

While his research focus is still on Pennsylvania German and German-American studies, he said that he is planning to develop a research line in classical literature in the near future.

Along with duties on Mercer’s Macon campus, Kopp also leads his students on study abroad programs conducted both during spring break and the summer semester.p

After last spring break’s trip to Turkey, Kopp decided to take his students to Rome and Pompeii, Italy, this past March.

“I connected [the trip] with my large classical literature course, and some students from that class participated,” said Kopp.

In addition to the classical literature students, some of Kopp’s Latin students also took this opportunity to be exposed to ancient culture.

Kopp enjoys teaching at Mercer, most of all because of his students: “I love the students. We have very bright students here.”

Kopp’s time and service to Mercer translates in his work and attitude. “It’s just a very pleasant place to work and was exactly what I was looking for when I came to this country.”