B.A. Berea College M.Div.
Yale University M.A.
Ph. D. University of Kentucky
I was born and grew up in the Blue Ridge mountains of southwestern Virginia just a few miles north of Mt. Airy, North Carolina, birthplace of the comedian Andy Griffith. The area was characterized by small farms, furniture factories, sewing factories, knitting mills, and zinc mines. While working on the farm to help support our family of eight, I attended public high school in the county seat. Approaching graduation, I looked toward a future in one of those factories as became the case for my brothers. This would have been my story were it not for the high school librarian who thought that a better future awaited if I could find a way to attend college. With her direction and support, I enrolled at Berea College in Kentucky, where students worked in lieu of paying tuition. One of the highlights while a student there was a trip to Alabama with other students and faculty to participate in the last day of the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery.
After Berea I went on to obtain three graduate degrees, spending so much time in higher education that some of my advisers thought that I was becoming a perpetual student. While this became true, it was not in the sense they feared. Much of my pursuit of knowledge since then has involved efforts to integrate the esoteric world of academe with the practical world of everyday life experiences. This led me to what some would see as a checkered career including college teaching, church ministry, non-traditional program development, participatory action research, grassroots education, social activism, and higher education administration. The most successful of those were my years as Co-Director of the Appalachian Landownership Study and the time on the staff of the Highlander Research and Education Center, where I found an educational model that connected research, education, and social activism. I was to make other efforts to bring about that integration from positions in higher education, but none were quite so successful. One of the appealing things about Dublin School is its commitment to connect students to the community and outside world.
What teacher has had the greatest impact on you? Why were they special? Herbert Reid, a political scientist, who was my professor in several political theory seminars when I was in graduate school. He also served as minor advisor on my dissertation committee and participated with me in several grassroots political actions.
What is your favorite course you have taken in high school or college? Historical Sociology in the graduate school at Yale. One of the benefits of being enrolled in seminary there was that I could enroll in courses in other graduate disciplines. Since I was very interested in Sociology, I would meander down the hill to the main campus every time there was an opening in my schedule to take a course. The teacher was Kai Erickson, a well known sociologist and author of several books using the methods of historical sociology.
What is your favorite place on campus and why? The conference room of the Griffin Learning Center and my office, because of the marvelous and ever changing view of the mountains.
I am most happy when... Teaching young people new skills and how to solve problems.
If I had a free afternoon I would... Either read a good book or take a very long walk, perhaps with my dog.
What is your favorite outdoor activity? Exploring the natural world via a hike along a mountain stream or river.