I started teaching college English at Auburn University in 1967. College teaching was fine. I felt challenged by it and enjoyed the interactions. But I somehow kept getting myself into administration. Maybe that was because I knew how to do it. Once a dean, always a dean, people told me, but, even though I was a chairman or dean most of my career, I always preferred the classroom. My own big brother told me I was a born dean and that nothing else would satisfy. Once I stumbled into an academic vice-presidency, though, there was just too much distance between the classroom and me, so I started looking for work outside of academe; even the classroom did not look very appealing at that time.
One of our daughters and her family lived in Sevier County, so I looked for work in De Queen. Early this century, I got a reporter’s job at the Daily Citizen and De Queen Bee newspapers and started this column. I also taught some courses at CCCUA. In the first few issues the column was called What Dan SAID, but the publisher wanted me to put it into present tense and the rest is history. The column has been running for over a decade now with only a necessary hiatus or two.
My assignment was to cover sheriff and police activities, city council meetings, district court rulings, school events, chamber business, the Lion’s Club and anything else the editor assigned me. And, oh yes, I was writing two columns a week for the Daily Citizen and they both appeared in the weekly paper, which, thankfully, has survived.
Just as I was settling into my new life as a newspaperman, I got a call from the Provost at Palm Beach Atlantic University, where I had been dean back in the 1990’s. He wanted me to come down there as his associate to help with re-accreditation efforts. I had successfully led that effort down there 10 years before and he wanted me to do it again as 10-year renewal was approaching. To make a long story short, we went down there for an academic year. The university was re-accredited. There was talk about making me Dean again. Uh-oh. We moved back to Sevier County. I fully intended to retire.
However, the editor of the Citizen and Bee was injured and could not work so the publisher called me to edit the papers, so I did that for a little while, still producing a couple of columns a week. But then a strange thing happened. I got a call from the high school wanting me to fill-in as English teacher for the spring semester. I had no experience as a high school teacher, but accepted the challenge. It was straight classroom work and I loved it.
Later, I took a job as full time faculty at the college in Hope and put in two years there totally immersed in the teaching enterprise. Now I am retired, but still producing What Dan Says. Maybe I will keep that up for a little longer.