By: Kasha Caprata –
Name: David Crisp
Originated From: Victoria, Texas
Undergraduate Program: Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, [offered] my bachelor of arts. I chose my undergraduate degree because it had few prerequisites, and I was interested in a wide variety of subjects. I went to SFA because I had G.I. Bill money coming to me, and East Texas is a lovely place.
Graduate Program: [I went through] Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, for my master’s degree in English. I chose English for my master’s degree in part because the fellowship was in English and part because I figured if I was going to shell out a few hundred bucks for books, I wanted to have books worth keeping. I went to A&M because I was working in nearby Bryan and was offered a fellowship.
Inspiration For Becoming a Professor: I don’t actually remember choosing to teach. My first college teaching job was at Anderson College Center in Palestine, Texas, about 35 years ago. I really don’t remember how that happened; I think someone there asked me. I taught off and on while working in the newspaper business, then I got mad and quit one of my newspaper jobs and got hired to teach English and journalism full time at Texas A&M. Since then, I’ve just taken opportunities as they have arisen.
The Definition of Education: Education is mostly what happens inside your own head. Lots of people go through college without getting an education. It can be done. From a public policy standpoint, we need education to train specialists and to create adults wise enough to make representative democracy work. From a personal standpoint, education to me is still learning the smartest and wisest things that people have ever thought or said.
Draw to Rocky Mountain College: I was offered the journalism class at Rocky about 14 years ago and have taught that every fall since. Over the years, I have been offered other classes from time to time, and I try to never turn one down. I also teach German at MSU Billings, by the way, so those years in the Army weren’t a total loss.
The Best and Worst Things About Being a Professor: In journalism, I am used to always being the dumbest guy in the room. I make a living asking questions of people who know far more than I do about whatever topic is at hand. It’s a nice break to get in a classroom where I actually feel like I have some useful knowledge to pass on. Occasionally, something in class sets off a spark and that’s a nice feeling. The worst thing about teaching is grading papers. I don’t know what the second-worst thing is.
Advice For New Students: I pretty consistently tell freshmen this: Show up for class. Do your homework on time. Don’t plagiarize. Those are the main reasons students don’t do well in college. They never fail because they are too dumb. Also, take advantage of chances to hear lectures by guest speakers. Thirty-five years after I got out of graduate school, I can’t remember a word of Beowulf, but I remember hearing Ralph Nader, Christopher Hitchens, Timothy Leary and the likes when I was in college. They made a difference.