Kathi Hill ’80
An experienced trial attorney who shares her expertise on criminology and law with her students.
- Supportive | Ambitious | Deliberate
- Kathi Hill ’80 wants her students to learn that not every question has only one right answer. In courses like Criminology, Deviant and Criminal Behavior, and Criminal Law, Hill teaches subjects like civil discourse, the social construction of law and deviance, and elements of the justice system. She has a J.D. from University of Baltimore and an M.S. in Clinical Psychology from Argosy University. She was a trial attorney in criminal defense and family law for more than a decade before she returned to her alma mater to teach in the departments of Sociology and Psychology, and the Criminal Justice program.
- What’s your background? Where were you before McDaniel and when did you start here?
I have taught at McDaniel for 23 years, but I started on the Hill as a first-generation college student. I had wanted to be a doctor since I was 7 years old, but when I took Introduction to Psychology my junior year, I changed my major to Psychology and it changed the trajectory of my life. I went to law school at the University of Baltimore, where I earned my first D in a course (humbling, but not life-stopping) on oral argument — the very thing I would eventually make a decent living from. I was a prosecutor in Carroll County, then Howard County, for more than a dozen years and led the prosecution of sex crimes. Then, a friend and I began our own law firm, Hill & Barnes (now Hill, Barnes & McInerney).
- Why did you choose McDaniel as a place to work? What inspired you to become part of the Hill?
- Right before 2000, I returned to campus for two reasons. The first was Dr. Bill Miller in the Psychology department, who knew I had a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. He asked me to teach Child Development. Second, I covered for a colleague who taught Criminology in the Sociology department. For years, I would leave court in the afternoon and teach at night. In 2017, I retired from the adrenaline-filled and fulfilling life of trial work. I now teach in the Criminal Justice program and supervise the internship requirements of the Criminal Justice major. As a professor, I am vested in the success of our students. As an alum, I am vested in the success of our institution.
- What have you enjoyed most during your time at McDaniel?
- I enjoy the camaraderie here; it’s such a supportive group. I love the way students come and go in department offices, sometimes just to hang out. This place is in my blood. As soon as I stepped onto this campus when I was 17, I knew I belonged. I couldn’t know at that time that I would belong here for many decades. I based my entire career as a trial attorney in Westminster, and I was even married in Little Baker Chapel. Because I am passionate about justice and understanding people and their behavior (both Psychology and Sociology fit that bill), I love passing that passion and love of learning on to the next generation.
- What do you hope students take away from your courses?
- Students walk out of my classes saying, “Life is complicated.” It’s an important lesson to learn early that most times there isn’t just one right answer. Within all that uncertainty, having a passion for something bigger than yourself is incredibly fulfilling. I hope to provide a foundation for students to learn that the ground is always shifting, and we need to evolve our thinking and behavior to contribute meaningfully to our world. Critical thinking, pre-bunking against the avalanche of inaccurate information, and civil discourse are themes in my classes. I hope most of all my students walk out to become awesome, kind, and active contributors who better their communities, society, and the world.