Wikipedia concludes that in the United States and Canada the title of professor is granted to larger groups of senior teachers in two and four-year colleges and universities. A professor is a scholarly teacher.
I served as a Professor of Sport Management at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA from August of 2005 until I left to return to coaching with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League in late January of 2008. My departure was not looked upon well by the acting Dean of the Goodwin College of Professional Studies because that is not the time of year that educators normally depart a position but it most certainly is a time of change of employment in the coaching world. I thought long and hard about my decision to leave. I loved teaching at such a highly competitive academic institution of 20,000 students which sits in “University City” directly across Chestnut Street from the Ivy League’s University of Pennsylvania. It is an academically stimulating area with an energy that is engulfing. I was leaving my colleagues a bit in a lurch to cover my class load but at that particular time, I had to kick the coaching can once more.
I have often mentioned that coaching is teaching with nothing more than greater enthusiasm and perhaps a more colorful approach but the premise is the same. There is a triangle of the player/student, coach/professor, and scheme/subject. You have to inspire and stimulate to engage in introspective thought that will lead to discussions of give and take. You won’t reach every student but if you strive to create a “learning environment”, the give and take by those that want to learn and haven’t concluded that they already are enlightened will take root. A pedagogical relationship is most desirable as we learn from the student and professor alike as they interact with the subject matter. The old saying I was first exposed to as an undergraduate beginning the journey into “student teaching” was, “Ten percent will love you, ten percent will hate you, it’s the 80 percent you have to worry about” continues to hold true.
The Joy of Teaching: a practical guide for new college instructors, by Peter G. Filene was given to all new Professors in a pre-trimester acclimation week-long seminar. He speaks of teachers and how they vary in their values, goals, and styles. How they must work in such diverse arenas from a 300 person lecture hall to 10 student seminar and from research universities to community colleges and the adaptability one must possess to expand their options. He addresses the reader as a reflective professional, someone who is able to think deeply about teaching and talk conceptually with colleagues. He investigates that learning ventures beyond what someone already knows and an effective teacher takes students out of their comfort zone challenging them with unsettling ideas, setting high standards, and demanding hard work. Does that sound differently than what a coach’s expectations are?
I fashioned myself as a “practitioner” drawing on, at the time, 25 years as a coach and athletic administrator. It was such an exciting time as the Sport Management program was just getting started. I created new courses and wrote the original syllabus for SMT 152 Leadership in Sport and Society, SMT 200 Intro to Facility and Event Management, SMT 330 Gender Equity and Women in Sport, SMT 390 Athletic Fund Raising, SMT 390 Monday Night Football which took the premise of SMT 110 Business of Sport which I also taught and provided an application, and I wrote the first graduate level course SMT 621 Leadership in Sport Management.
Along with the aforementioned class load I also rewrote the syllabus to fit my expectations and taught SMT 101 Principles of Coaching, SMT 220 Recreation, Wellness & Society, SMT 230 Sport and the Law, and I also handled SMT 475 Practicum. I coordinated the certificate programs in Leadership and Coaching and took great pride in serving as a member of the DU Faculty Athletics Advisory Committee and the Goodwin College of Professional Studies Curriculum Committee, and as the advisor to the Sport Management Majors Club.
I was given the directive to assemble an Advisory Board which I did and it included such prominent names as former NFL MVP and current ESPN/Monday Night Football analyst Ron Jaworski. NFL Films Senior Producer Greg Cosell, the nephew of the late Howard Cosell and local directors from community athletic associations and professional sport teams. Author and ESPN NFL analyst Sal Paolantonio spoke to my graduate class and from the Spike TV show, “So You Want to be a Super Agent”, Jeff Guerriero flew in from Louisiana and address our majors club.
It was a time in my life that was fulfilling and rewarding. I was presented with the “Make a Difference Award” for the 2006-07 academic year for “outstanding teaching and mentoring”. Only five Professors were so awarded that year. I enjoyed my time as a Professor and maybe it will happen again and I salute all of you that stand in front of a classroom everyday to challenge students abilities and as Peter G. Filene professes to have your students “catch an idea and pass it on”.