I hear that from the Ducks that I encounter every day. Some will talk about the physical beauty of our campus; others cite unique experiences such as study abroad or being exposed to classmates from different cultures all around the world. Then, something happens: they think for a moment and then they always talk about a person or people that made their experience special. There are hundreds of reasons the UO is special, but it is our people—and, in particular, our faculty—that are vivid in the memories that emerge from all generations of alumni.
Recently, I invited alumni in the University of Oregon LinkedIn group to give a shoutout to their favorite faculty member. Alumni responded in great numbers with touching tributes to our faculty.
Some faculty members were known for how much they cared, as Matthew Beck ’85 wrote, “Grant McKernie was my drama teacher in the mid ’80s. His excellence as a teacher was only matched by his excellence as a warm and caring human being. He helped us to learn and strive to do better effortlessly. Some of my best memories of college were his classes and school plays. I miss him.”
These experiences are built to take with you as Keith Allen ’80 explains, “[I had] Duncan McDonald for photojournalism at the J-School. His office door was always open to me. I was photo editor at the Emerald and he would critique my work (both photos and management style) nearly every day. My 35 years as a journalism educator were more influenced by him than any other teacher I ever had. ”
Jessica Corcoran ’03 recalls how focused her favorite faculty members were on the success of their students. “Tom Hagley and Jim Vanleuven in the School of Journalism and Communication. I was struck by how focused these professors were not just on classroom instruction, but on what came AFTER school. They really helped ensure each project and learning in the classroom was grounded in real-world skills and experience. The preparation for actually joining the working world was excellent.”
These testimonials are just a sampling of the many that can be found in our LinkedIn group. Join the group today to read more stories, share a story about your favorite faculty member, and connect with other Ducks.
Plutarch once said, “The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.” These faculty members kindled a fire that continues to burn brightly in our 195,000 alumni worldwide. Faculty make this place special—just ask one of our alumni and they will gladly share their story.
Paul J. Clifford