Perhaps it was the all too common experience of discovering rotting KFC in the front seat only after I sat down to clean a car's windows. Or maybe it was the $3.25 per hour (contemporary minimum wage) that I was being paid. Or maybe even the look of respect that women gave the guys who drove the cars that I was cleaning. Anyway I knew I had to branch out, find a better way of life, pursue the American Dream! A little searching uncovered a vacant geology position at a community college in Illinois in the spring of 1982. My future was in the bag!
I spent three years there learning how to teach and teaching how to learn. However, even before accepting the position, I decided that three years hence I'd go back to school for a masters degree. So, in spite of the big bucks I was pulling down (by my third year -- $15,250 per annum), I decided that I would stay on schedule. I headed back to school in 1985.
After finishing my masters at Southern Illinois, I decided to pursue full-time what I had done part-time to pick up a little extra money while on summer break from teaching at the community college -- environmental consulting. I worked for a large independent consulting firm based in Kentucky. I did that for a little more than a year and a half. I learned a lot, earned a lot, but let's just say that there were things I would rather have been doing with my time. I often tell people that doing consulting drove me back to academia -- and it did.
My time back at Indiana University was not without professional merit so I'll mention it here. Traditionally, in IU's department of geology, doctoral students only receive three years of financial support even though the average Ph.D. student is there more than five years. I only took four to graduate but in my fourth year I had to locate my own funding. In order to live in the style to which I had become accustomed (we all know how well paid graduate students are) I was forced to pursue multiple income sources. During this time I was a university computer consultant, an adjunct faculty member, and a consulting mineral resource specialist. Each position paid fairly well and so I was able to end my college career without serious indebtedness.
I left IU in the summer of 1992 to take a position as a temporary full-time faculty member at the University of Southern Indiana at Evansville. I held that position for three years and taught a variety of courses similar to what I teach here at MTSU.
In late summer of 1995 I joined the faculty in the Department of Geography and Geology here at MTSU.
Web Author: Clay Harris
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