Professor of the Week: Patrick Barcus

Thursday, May 31, 2018 - 09:26

Brief Bio:

I attended Indiana State University for my Bachelor of Arts in English Liberal Arts and my Master of Arts in English and American Literature. I attended Butler University for my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, with an emphasis on poetry. I am a proud son of Greencastle, Indiana by way of Ohio and Illinois. I am a former professional chef and restauranteur, owning my own restaurant for a while with my wife in Greencastle. I have three sons and a daughter, play a mean electric guitar in the band Saturday Shoes, and I am an avid golfer, writer, and fan of The Ohio State University Buckeyes.


Favorite music artist? I take music seriously, so this is hard to answer. If I had to listen to one forever? Ryan Adams

Favorite author? Tie: Kurt Vonnegut and George Saunders

Cats or dogs?I only like animals I can eat.

What has been your best ISU experience? Planning and attending a reading by the poet Maurice Manning.

What is your favorite place on ISU’s campus? Special Collections, Cunningham Memorial Library

If there is one thing you could change about ISU, what would it be?I wish ISU would look to their past when constructing new buildings. Look at some old pictures of the buildings from the 19th century that they tore down in favor of Bauhaus boxes (See the egregiously under-valued Art History Department for an explanation of Bauhaus Architecture). This place used to look like some of the great campuses in America. Now it looks like either an Eastern-Bloc apartment building or a futuristic Eastern-Bloc apartment building.

What do you like most about ISU?I like that there are so many students who are the first in their families to go to college who put their all into improving their futures.

Why did you choose ISU?As an alumnus, I felt at home here. I get to work with a lot of my mentors.  

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would that be? Big Sur, California

If you had $1 million to give away, which charity would you donate to?Anything to do with cancer research

What is your best advice for students? Develop a tenacious work ethic. It will serve you well the rest of your lives.

Do you have any funny stories to share from being a professor? My first semester teaching ENG 101 a student ended all of her sentences in her first paper with smiley-face emoticons. She got an F.

After teaching, what do you see yourself doing? Hitting lots of golf balls and travelling the world with my wife.

Why did you decide to teach? It allows me to talk about what I am good at, which is writing, and I like being able to introduce students to the expectations of professional life, which so many of them need to understand in order to be successful. Being essentially able to work abroad in the summer also allows me to travel, which is one of my passions.

What would you tell students who are looking into becoming teachers? Don’t get into it because you want to make money unless you’re willing to go to graduate school and abandon the classroom for an administrative position. Don’t do it because it’s what your mom, or dad or sibling does. It’s not glamorous and it’s not romantic. There will be no “Dead Poet’s Society”moments. Do it because you’re willing to get dirty in the trenches helping that kid who can barely help himself or herself. It’s not about making friends or how cute the little elementary kids are. It’s about responsibility and standards. It’s more about preparing young people to think and speak for themselves than it is about getting them to pass an idiotic standardized test or training them to become efficient drones in a particular occupation. If you think it will be easy, you are wrong. Prepare to keep honing and learning your craft for the rest of your life. And most importantly, learn as much from students as they do from you, or you’re not doing it right.

What is your greatest fear?

Regretting not doing something and Donald Trump’s incompetence.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Worrisome, Fiery and Committed

What is the most frustrating thing you see students do?

Not caring about actually learning something. They are so concerned with just being qualified for a paycheck after graduation that they don’t bother to become intellectuals.

What was the most difficult job you have ever had?

Father. Rewarding but difficult.

What can you share about your research?

I don’t do much research. Rather, I spend my time writing poetry, fiction and articles for “National Road Magazine.”

What is your favorite quote or motto?

Nothing parties like a rental.

Which class do you enjoy teaching the most?

ENG 219 Introduction to Creative Writing

What do your students mean to you?

It depends on the student. Mostly, my students mean I get to help people think for themselves.

What are you involved with on campus?

Not enough. I have four young children who take up the majority of my time.

There are two types of people in the world. What are the two types?

The Learned and the Ignorant

Favorite joke?

My favorite joke is not appropriate for “The Statesman.”   

What books should everyone read?

All of them. But specifically the ones that challenge your preconceptions.

By Alexandria Truby
Feb. 18, 2018

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