By Tai-Rece Basey
LINCOLN UNIVERSITY- The Clarion News is turning its faculty spotlight on Connor Campbell, a popular speech and English instructor at Lincoln University. Campbell has been teaching LU students for three years and is being recognized for his dedication to both students and the campus community.
The Clarion: Where did you go to college?
Campbell: I went to school at Texas Tech University. I started there in 2010 and received my bachelor’s in 2014. I double-majored in English and Classics and received my master’s in English, specializing in film and media studies.
The Clarion: What led you to become a speech professor?
Campbell: My wife received her (undergrad) degree and master’s at Texas Tech. Then she got the opportunity to get her doctorate at Mizzou. That’s what caused us to move from Lubbock, Texas to Missouri. I began applying for different positions at different places. My wife’s boss (at Mizzou) was contacted by Lincoln’s English chair, Dr. Salmons – he said they needed somebody that could teach speech or if they knew somebody that was qualified.
The Clarion: And that led to you coming to LU?
Campbell: Yes. Through a weird coincidence, Dr. Salmons knew my old boss from when they were in grad school together a while back. And so he was able to talk to her and she gave him the reassurance that – even though I’d only taught English before – she felt like I could easily handle a speech class. He gave me the chance, and three years later, I’m still here teaching.
The Clarion: Can you explain your personal history with speech and speech classes?
Campbell: As I mention in my speech classes, I had to go through speech therapy as a child to help me talk properly. And then I took speech classes in middle school, high school, and college. So I have a lot of that prior experience that helped me build the classes that I teach.
The Clarion: How do you juggle being a professor and a first-time father?
Campbell: It was the greatest blessing when I held my son that first time in the hospital room. After reading reports about the virus in China that could be coming to America, I was scared to go out of the house. But I love teaching in person much more than I like teaching online. And the problem with napping when he naps is, you can’t do things while he’s not napping because you have to be watching him. So it’s been retraining myself – now that he’s old enough to get work done when I’m not with him. I’m only going to sleep six hours a night from now on in my life, apparently. But that allows me to spend time with him and still feel like I get to be his father, while also being able to help my students as well.
The Clarion: What made you apply to an HBCU?
Campbell: It kind of happened by happenstance. I’ve learned so much more about HBCUs since I started at LU and I love being here. It is an amazing place. One of my favorite things is just the diversity of students. We have students from St. Louis and Kansas City and here in Jeff City – as well as students from Columbia and from rural towns, and students who want to come back to LU for a new education. I love getting to meet those students and learn from them and just see all of the different ways life can take you, and yet still feel like I’m helping them on to a better path.
The Clarion: Have you taught at any other universities?
Campbell: I taught at Texas Tech. The big thing in any English department is if you want to stay in academia, you have to be able to teach. Even if it’s just two classes or even if it’s a very simple class, you have to teach. And so I’ve been teaching. I primarily taught English at Tech for about three years before I came to Lincoln. I taught up to six classes in one semester, which was rough teaching 180 students in one semester. Texas Tech was a very different school from here. Very different group of students. Very different group of people. Texas is a wonderful place, but Texas is Texas…it’s fun getting to take what I’ve learned at Tech and change and mold it to make it better here.
The Clarion: Do you ever find it hard to relate your class to today’s students?
Campbell: I think that’s where my background in film and media helps me so much. I study film and media. I study videos. I study social media. It makes me want to include those into the class, because that’s what I teach. And a lot of the students we have today, that’s how they learn. So many of our students are on social media and watching videos on YouTube, or watching movies. Sometimes I slide my examples into the curriculum to find the video that matches what I need to teach, in that moment.
The Clarion: What has been the most difficult part of teaching higher education during a pandemic?
Campbell: It’s got to be the distance. Trying to make sure that I’m keeping away from my students, because I love when my students come up to meet me during office hours or come up to me after class to ask questions. I want to help my students as much as possible.
The Clarion: What advice would you give students to help them get through college during a pandemic?
Campbell: I think the biggest thing is to find ways to relax. It is more stressful for students and professors walking into the classroom when everyone is wearing masks. I’m sure it is more stressful for students when they can’t go to parties on Fridays and Saturdays because everybody’s in masks and nobody wants to be the reason a bunch of people get sick. So it’s finding other ways to relax, such as taking a walk or just going outside. Try to mix it up and just do little things each day to help you find a balance. Whatever it is that will help you relax in a safe way, is the best thing you can do right now.
The Clarion: Who did you root for in the Super Bowl?
Campbell: About 95 percent of me was for the Chiefs. My mom’s side of the family live in Tampa Bay, so of course they were for the Buccaneers. But since moving here, my Cowboys have not been a good team, so it’s been very easy to love the Chiefs. And Patrick Mahomes is a Texas Tech grad. We were there at the same time.