Reunion for a Favorite Professor

More than 200 people returned to Baylor University this week to honor a professor who played a big role in their lives and careers. I was one of them.

It says something about a professor’s lasting influence when former students make the trek to Waco, Texas, from places such as Alaska, Long Island, Japan and North Carolina. For me, it also was an opportunity to reconnect with classmates whom I hadn’t seen since we were 22 years old.

David McHam was my professor-mentor at Baylor in the 1970s. He now teaches at the University of Houston.

Eight years ago, McHam came to Elon as a guest professor at my invitation. He spoke in four classes about writing, editing and the importance of language precision. He also led a discussion about free speech related to war protests and then talked about the qualities of good teaching at a School of Communications faculty luncheon.

His advice to teachers: Find a good mentor. Always go into the classroom upbeat and smiling. Never talk down to anyone in class.

McHam was a tough taskmaster as a teacher. At the time we thought it was his Marine Corps background. Actually, he just wanted us to be the very best we could be. He drilled the importance of curiosity and precision into us, helped us network to begin careers, and has remained a mentor through the decades. That’s the definition of a teacher who makes a difference.

Explore posts in the same categories: People, Special Guests, Teaching

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