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English Professor During the Week, Avid Skier on the Weekend

Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013

Stan Albrecht, Brock Dethier, Joyce Albrecht at Deithier's lecture
Professor Brock Dethier presented a lecture as part of the Inaugural Professor Lecture Series at the president's home. He joined by USU President Stan Albrecht and First Lady Joyce Albrecht.

In 2006 the USA Today released seven new wonders of the world. Utah State University English professor Brock Dethier feels one more should be added, Beaver Mountain.


“Beaver Mountain is a perfect ski area. Close to USU, inexpensive, big enough and varied enough, seldom crowded and always filled with secret pockets of powder for powderhounds in the know,” said Dethier


USU gives Dethier the opportunity to pursue two passions, teaching and skiing.


“I hike and ski as much as possible, and the mountains here are great for both,” said Dethier.


Dethier gave his Inaugural Lecture Series presentation Feb. 12, the eighth lecture of this academic year’s installment. His lecture, “How I Got Here: Merry Pranksters, Skis and Mentors,” described the influence of mentors in his life.


“I’ve taken a long and circuitous route to becoming a full professor. I got my doctorate at 26, but it took another 26 years to get tenure. Throughout it all, mentors were crucial to my career,” said Dethier.


Dethier’s father was an English teacher. He was encouraged to write, and began to write seriously in high school.


“It wasn’t until I had my first mentor at Stanford, Ed McClanahan, that I got the idea that writing and the writing life could be fun and worth pursuing,” said Dethier.


While attending graduate school at the University of West Virginia he married Melody Graulich and followed her to her first tenure-track job at the University of New Hampshire.


“I began focusing on teaching composition when I met my most important mentor, Don Murray, at the University of New Hampshire,” said Dethier. “He made me see that undergraduate writing courses weren’t a burden for teachers but were, in fact, exciting places where a lot of learning goes on.”


After Dethier taught at the University of New Hampshire for 19 years as an adjunct and lecturer, his wife was offered one of the top jobs in her field, editor of the journal Western American Literature at USU.


“I came to USU as a trailing spouse, taking advantage of USU’s spousal accommodation policy,” said Dethier.


Since coming to USU he has taught various writing and pedagogy courses, but his main job has been running the composition program.


“Composition is a relatively young field, so we’re still finding out how to most effectively teach writing,” he said. “I look forward to learning more about it as long as I teach.”


Dethier has published three books for composition teachers, and a fourth nearly published. He is also a two-time winner of the college teacher of the year award.


“My first book at USU, The Composition Instructor's Survival Guide, was one of the first publications to call attention to the treatment of the huge group of people who teach composition in American colleges and universities,” said Dethier


These books have been instrumental in helping college professors across the nation.


“All three of my books are aimed to help people who teach college writing enjoy their work, get better at it and respect and value what they do,” said “Dethier.


Dethier continues to oversee the composition program at USU and helps students recognize the value of writing.


“The biggest challenge is getting USU students to learn to think critically,” said Dethier.


Related links:

USU English Department

USU College of Humanities and Social Sciences


Contact: Brock Dethier, 435-797-3546, brock.dethier@usu.edu

Writer: Jaron Dunford, 920-246-2863, jaron.dunford@gmail.com

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