As a student, he has most enjoyed taking a class on current topics and a three-part series on the Civil War.

But he also enjoys aspects of the Institute beyond the classroom, including potlucks, trips and extracurricular seminars such as Baltimore Heroes and the Scholars Forum.

The couple brews coffee and sells it during Institute classes. Their efforts have raised more than $1,200 for group activities.

Sid Leibovitz has also assumed the role of Renaissance Institute historian, and has won numerous awards from the Institute for his leadership and coordination of courses.

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And he is always willing to lend a hand.

"Whenever you begin a sentence, 'Would you ...,' you don't even have to finish it and he'll say 'Of course,'" Fanto said.

Halpin: Finding a new port

Greg Halpin left "a getting nowhere kind of job" as a radio newscaster in the early years of television to take a job in communications at the then Port Authority of Baltimore in 1959. He stayed 26 years, rising to become director.

In 1990, admittedly depressed in retirement, Halpin received what he called "a real-life ring thrown into the pool of my depression."

It was a phone call from the then-president of the institute, asking him to teach there.

Halpin met his wife, Pat, in the first class he taught. The couple became known as the "Renaissance romance" and will celebrate their 20th anniversary in September. They live in Towson.

The Renaissance Institute has given Halpin, the product of all-male schools, a new perspective on women in the classroom, which he never had in high school or at the University of Notre Dame.

"The only women we saw were the nuns who did the laundry," he said. "If you get into a discussion class and you listen to their (women's) reactions and how their minds process events, it really is different from men, and that is what fascinates me. I've never been exposed to that before."

He's taught a total of 29 classes, all in history, and is best known for his rigorous, 13-week "French Connections" class. Each class of 75 minutes is "only lectures, no discussions and no questions, because there's so much to cover," he said. "I try very, very hard to bring in human events."

It's also of the few classes at the Institute to have a textbook.

Halpin has also taught courses on the French Revolution, China, Japan, Spain, Italy, Ireland, World War I, World War II, the American Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution, the Jefferson and Madison presidencies, Russia, Maryland and the Constitutional Conventions. Halpin will also be taking a full schedule of classes himself this coming semester.

"For those of us in Renaissance, it's a major part of our lives," he said. "Ultimately, you end up running into other Renaissance people everywhere. And it really is what keeps us intellectually alive."