Professors are People Too: Dr. Hankle

Dr. Dominick Hankle is the department chair and a professor for the psychology program at Regent University’s College of Arts & Sciences. After many years of working in business and information technology, the Lord led him toward a calling in psychology and academia. Dr. Hankle is now beginning his thirteenth year serving students at Regent University!

What is your favorite tv show of all time?

Dr. Hankle: The one that comes to mind because we are watching reruns at the house right now is The Mentalist. You can probably guess why; there is so much psychology involved there. So that is my number one top favorite tv show. 

What role does psychology play in ministry?

Dr. Hankle: Well, right now, I don’t think it plays as much as it can or should. A lot of people in ministry see psychology as encroaching on their discipline, and that is a shame because that is a misunderstanding of the discipline. It is often seen as only to be used for helping people in counseling and therapy. But look at the work Dr. Jones tries to implement into the church: the psychology of relational life, the psychology of relationships, and how churches should be more communal-minded than individually focused. Rather than just “me and Jesus,” it is us together, as a people, redeemed by Jesus. So I think psychology should play a more significant role in ministry because it provides ministers and the church with tools to flourish and to be resilient. It should not only be about helping people who are hurting but also helping people develop, grow, and understand life, meaning, and purpose. 

Is it true you were in a rock band?

Dr. Hankle: Oh, yes. I was the guitar player and lead singer. When I was about sixteen, I started playing guitar because I fell in love with the Beatles at thirteen or fourteen. I remember I got a guitar for Christmas and learned every song on the two albums I owned. Then, my parents sent me to guitar lessons, and I was terrible at lessons because I wanted to know nothing about how to play other than rock n’ roll. 

I never learned to read music well, but by sixteen, I was playing in clubs around Pittsburgh with guys that were nineteen and twenty years old. Then I had my own band, and my dream was to be a musician, not to go to school. But, my family immigrated from Italy and they said since I was the first American, I was going to college. My goal was to go for one semester, flunk out, and then go back to music. Well, silly me, I fell in love with college.

Why did you decide to become a professor?

Dr. Hankle: I love to learn, so I always wanted a job where I spent all my time reading and learning. When I went to college, what I liked about college learning was the freedom to learn as much as you want in the way that you want. Even though I graduated with a business degree, I took mostly psychology and philosophy courses in my undergrad, as many as I could take while still getting a business degree. I just love that stuff. I like to talk about it. I like to dialogue about it. I like to fight about it, so I thought, wow, I want to do this for a living, talking and engaging with people about ideas. So that is why I think I fell in love with teaching and that I also love people. 

What is your favorite food, and do you like to cook it yourself?

Dr. Hankle: Well, I can’t cook to save my life. My favorite food is my mother’s linguini with tomato sauce and pepperoni. I go to Pittsburgh three to four times a year, and that is the one thing I look forward to. When my mom knows I’m coming, she has a big pot of linguini, tomato sauce, and pepperoni, and that is my favorite meal with a big chunk of Italian bread.

What do Christians get the most wrong about psychology?

Dr. Hankle: I’d say that they think that it’s evil or that it’s the devil and that it is taking the place of what the Bible should already teach us. I think they ignore the natural science side of psychology, and a number of Christians see psychology as exclusively Freudian ideas and anti-christian, which is silly. Psychology is the science of mental experience and human behavior, simply that. 

If you have a proper worldview and understanding of what people are, then there is no conflict between psychology and Christianity. If all truth is God’s truth, then whatever science has to say and whatever the Bible has revealed as truth should cohere and exist. Our job here at Regent is to explore that, and when it doesn’t happen, it is our job to be humble and seek why it is not the case. Do we have a misunderstanding of God’s truth, or are we not doing our science properly?

Do you have any secret skills or passions?

Dr. Hankle: I don’t think so. Well, I am blessed that what I do is my passion. I am lucky that I am also involved in ministry as an ordained minister in the Anglican communion, so I do a lot of that kind of work as well. I am also a technology freak, but that might be about it. What you guys see is what you get with Dr. Hankle. 

What is your #1 piece of advice for regent students?

Dr. Hankle: What I like to see you guys able to do is to think critically about your discipline and your faith without despairing. There is nothing wrong with questioning what you have been taught to believe. This should be a place where your faith becomes your own, where you own it and know it. This does not mean to ignore what people tell you but to think critically about it and your discipline. 

We are so glad to have Dr. Hankle as a part of our Regent family and are blessed daily by his passion and love for education and his students!


Jonathan Overton

Jonathan Overton is a writer for The Daily Runner.