Dan Klingensmith, professor of history and humanities division chair began the 2017-2018 school year thinking it would be similar to the 20 previous years he has been teaching here at Maryville College. As it turned out, this year has been anything but normal for Klingensmith.
In October of last year, former Vice President and Dean of Students, Barbara Wells, announced her decision to retire following the 2018 spring semester. The news of Wells’s retirement was a surprise to many, but thankfully there was plenty of time between October and the end of the spring semester for a successor to be found. President Bogart explained that he would like to hire someone who has been tenured at the school for the interim position, enter Klingensmith.
Klingensmith began the year with no expectations of leaving his job as a professor, in fact, he has a self-proclaimed love for his current job and has mentioned that he will undoubtedly finish his career as a professor. Despite the fact that he loves teaching and doing research, Klingensmith has stepped up to the plate to act as the interim VP and Dean until the college finds someone else to take his place.
“I have big shoes to fill,” Klingensmith said when asked about making the switch and what he hopes to accomplish. “Barbara Wells has done a great job. I want to find new ways of meeting the needs of the students, as well as more engagement with the community. I’d like to implement more curriculum that gets students out into the community.”
Unsurprisingly, Klingensmith is slightly anxious about making the switch to such a large job.
“I’ve been told that I’ll be working on the curriculum and warned that there will be surprises,” he said, laughing. “I’m somewhat apprehensive, because I don’t know what these surprises could be.”
Throughout his career, Klingensmith has done a considerable amount of research. Unfortunately, during his time as the interim VP and Dean, Klingensmith’s time dedicated to research will be fairly limited. This paired with the fact that he genuinely loves teaching, even naming it the greatest job of all time, does give him some reservations about leaving his passion behind.
Nevertheless, Klingensmith is taking this appointment in stride and doing his absolute best to continue making Maryville College the best it can be. Klingensmith expressed something interesting about leaving teaching behind, albeit only for a few years, that a person would not think about unless he or she were in a similar position.
Any time he teaches a course that he really enjoys, he considers how long it will be until he is able to teach it again. For that very reason, those lucky enough to take courses with Klingensmith will get to enjoy very informative lessons that students for the next few years may not get to experience. Although it’s certain that students in the next few semesters will get to learn the same material, they may not get to learn that material from someone with the passion for teaching that Klingensmith has.
Despite the fact that we are sad to see him go, it isn’t permanent, and the student body can rest assured that in a few years, Klingensmith will be back doing what he loves and teaching students with the same energy with which he is moving on.