By Susan Shinn, Catawba College News Service
This fall, the Catawba College community welcomed three new faculty members: Dr. Forrest Anderson, Dr. Eric Hake and Dr. Erin Wood.
Dr. Forrest Anderson
Dr. Forrest Anderson never thought he'd teach in the town of his birth. But here he is, back in Salisbury, at Catawba College, where he is an assistant professor in the English department. This fall, he's teaching three composition courses and a course on reading literature.
"I've always known I wanted to teach in college," says Anderson, 33, whose wife, Elizabeth, teaches fourth grade at Overton Elementary School. Their son, Benji, is 18 (19) months old.
Although he was born in Salisbury, Anderson grew up in Rocky Mount, where he still has family. He received a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from the University of South Carolina, and a doctorate in English with concentrations in fiction from Florida State University. He's most recently taught at FSU and Arkansas Tech University.
One of the big draws to Catawba was the presence of Dr. Janice Fuller, writer-in-residence in the English department. "Just to be in a department where I can work with such an established poet — I'm honored," Anderson says. "Every day, I'm thankful for Janice Fuller."
Anderson says he's always wanted to write, although he feared it might not be a practical career. He started out as an advertising major at Carolina, but began writing for "The Daily Tar Heel" and quickly changed his major to journalism.
Unfortunately, he says, "My expectation and reality did not match up." One day at work, for example, he covered the Beanie Babies craze in the morning and a body being pulled from the Mississippi in the afternoon.
Anderson worked in banking for a while, and as a copywriter for dot.coms in Boston. About the time they were burning out, he enrolled in USC.
"I've been lucky," he says. He's worked with writers such as Ron Rash, George Singleton, Julianna Baggott, Elizabeth Stuckey-French, Mark Winegardner and Janette Turner Hospital. At FSU, his doctoral director was Robert Olen Butler, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain."
He's known many generous writers, including Fuller. "If I could be as good of a literary citizen as Janice, I'd be thrilled," he says.
Anderson says he really enjoys teaching first-year writers. For the literature course, he's chosen Southern writers who have migrated West in their novels. The class, for example, is studying "Deliverance" by James Dickey as a novel of the frontier, along with "Blood Meridian" by Cormac McCarthy and "Heading West" by Doris Betts, a longtime writer and instructor at UNC.
Although Anderson has just moved into his office, it already has a few distinct touches — a UNC basketball and Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" album. His Carolina suitemates included Vince Carter and Antawn Jamison.
Something you might not know about him: "I'm obsessed with reality television — all the "Real Housewives," in every single city. And I love "Project Runway," he adds.
If he had a superhero power, he says, it would be Sookie Stackhouse's ability to hear people's thoughts, an attribute that might come in handy during exam time.
Dr. Eric Hake
Dr. Eric Hake only recently moved to Spokane, Wash., accepting a tenure track job at Eastern Washington University in 2008, but the lure of the Southeast was too much and he accepted a position at Catawba College.
Those kinds of opportunities don't come around very often, says Hake, so now he is an associate professor of economics in the Ketner School of Business.
Hake received a bachelor's degree in history and a doctorate in economics from The University of Tennessee. He's been teaching since 1994, both at regional state schools and at a private college in Pennsylvania.
"I really enjoyed that experience," says Hake, 45. "That was a good fit for me."
He liked the fact that the students were more motivated and the class sizes were small.
This fall, he's teaching principles of macroeconomics, money and banking, and the legal environment of business.
Wherever he's taught, Hake has integrated economics in the liberal arts curriculum. "I'm interested in the whole student and how courses connect and are related to larger social issues," Hake explains.
His interest in economics came about as the result of taking history classes and becoming fascinated with the industrial revolution. At the same time, he worked his way through his own education in taking music, creative writing, English and government courses.
"I was just fortunate that my parents encouraged me to take classes I enjoyed and move through the liberal arts curriculum," Hake says.
As an undergraduate, Hake spent a year abroad in Manchester, England, studying the evolution of British corporations. From the beginning, he knew he wanted to teach in higher education. It was just a matter of choosing a doctorate in history or economics.
He liked the theories behind economics and he's glad now that he chose it. "To me," he says, "this is the most important time to be studying economics. We are dealing with a situation we don't understand. There is no clearly defined set of policies to face the problem we're having."
Hake divides recent economic history into two time periods: 1945-1975 and 1975 to the present. Hake says that institutions put in place with the New Deal after World War II worked well. "The U.S. economy was the only industrial power still standing at the end of World War II," he notes.
"Now, there's been a change in focus to services and finance, along with competition from the Pacific Rim, India and China. The trade infrastructure has been remade. We've seen the rise of the Internet, and the dot.com bust. What worked well before 1975 doesn't work now, but we can't go back, Hake says.
"We can't decide where to go."
Hake and his wife, Teresa Rowell, a stay-at-home mom, have a daughter, Julia, 7. They were concerned about another move, but Julia was thrilled to be closer to her grandparents. "It's OK," she told her dad.
Something you may not know about him is that Hake plays stand up bass and he likes to cook, but the economist in him wants the superhero power of seeing the future, of course.
Dr. Erin Wood
Eight years is a long time to work in a basement laboratory. That's why Dr. Erin Wood loves her office with two large windows in the second floor of Hedrick Administration Building. She also keeps the overhead fluorescent lights turned off, preferring instead to work by the light of a small desktop lamp instead.
Wood is an assistant professor in the psychology department, joining Dr. Sheila Brownlow and Dr. Lyn Boulter, but what's interesting about her is that she didn't take psychology classes until her sophomore year of college.
"I think it had everything to do with my childhood," says Wood, 31, of her fascination with the subject. "I didn't get along with my parents. I started studying biopsychology. I wanted to know how much was my fault and how much was my parents' fault. But there were fewer answers than anybody thought."
A native of Madison County, Va., Wood received her bachelor's degree in psychology and master's and doctoral degrees in biopsychology all from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Not surprisingly, the demographics at Catawba are different than at VCU, Wood points out. "The students here seem really invested in their education. They seem to be very well rounded. I'm excited to see that there are a number of non-traditional students in the classroom."
This fall, she's teaching general psychology, cognition with a lab, and data analysis for the behavioral sciences.
Wood and her three younger siblings are all first-generation college graduates. All three of her siblings are completing or have completed advanced degrees.
Once Wood got to VCU, she liked it, so she stayed. "I got a paid position in the lab, so it was comfortable," she says. "I was comfortable with the ethos at VCU."
While there, she was a primary instructor for the history of psychology course and for statistics, along with being a teaching assistant in statistics and physiological psychology.
In five months, Wood sent out some 30 applications, but only three for tenure track jobs. She didn't want to do any more research. "I was burned out," she admits.
Instead, she says, "I want to be well-rounded, I want to advance my teaching expertise and I want to be a solid, reliable member of the community. Catawba fit all the way around."
Wood also likes to be able to focus on teaching. That's difficult, she notes, in a classroom of more than 100 students, on a campus of 30,000. But she is used to the small class sizes of Catawba, because her high school graduating class had just 92 members in it.
She's also looking forward to putting down some roots. Wood loves the idea of a house and a yard and a dog. As an adult, this is the first time she's lived outside her home state.
Something that no one at Catawba knows about her: "I can be quiet!"
And, her superhero power request is really quite humble, when you think about it: To be able to sleep through the night. If not, she'd like more hours in the day.