President still loves to teach
BC3 head instructs PR class at college
By Megan Duncan
Eagle Staff Writer
BUTLERTWP - At the front of the classroom, he outlined the material that will be covered on the pop quiz later in the class.
He reminded students that Edward Bernays is considered the father of modern public relations and the three publics are internal, external, and media. For an "unannounced quiz," he ensured they were prepared.
Like many adjunct professors, he keeps his day job and teaches one course for the passion of the subject.
But, this professor's day job is as president of the college.
Nick Neupauer, president of Butler County Community College, is continuing his tradition of teaching Introduction to Public Relations at the college. He calls the four Wednesday afternoon hours in the classroom "the highlight of my week."
"I love public relations," he said. "I love dealing with it."
This semester is the second time Neupauer has taught the course as college president, but he said it's no different than the class he's taught for years.
He started teaching in 1993 when he was at West Virginia University and has garnered awards along the way.
At West Virginia, he was named "Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant" and "Outstanding Professor" by a group of Greek organization leaders. He continued teaching at Bethany College. He won the "School of Communication Faculty of the Year" award twice at Marist College. In 2004, while he was a dean at BC3, the student body named him "Outstanding Faculty Member."
It's those awards, more than any administrative accomplishments, that he said he's most proud of.
Teaching is his way of "staying in touch with the discipline," he said. It's also a way to get to know the students and stay grounded to education.
When he was hired as president in 2007, he checked the travel schedule of his predecessor to find the day of the week he would be in town the most. Wednesday it was.
He makes an effort to be at class on time. Two weeks ago, he returned from Harrisburg and went right to the classroom. It was the same thing last week when he came back from Washington, D.C., he said.
"When people hear that I teach, they are surprised,"Neupauer said.
Some of his students were surprised to learn he would be teaching the class.
When Doug Kersten signed up for Neupauer's spring 2008 class, he just wanted to finish his communications degree.
"It wasn't until I showed up the first day that I realized he was teaching,"he said. "Ihad never heard of anyone that high up teaching."
While the thought of having Neupauer as class instructor was intimidating, the president quickly put the class at ease with his humor and excitement about the subject matter, Kersten said.
"Dr. Neupauer is so passionate about what he teaches," he said. "The subject is always interesting." Kersten has since graduated from the program.
Current students agreed.
"He loves what he does," Janae Lynon-Brown said.
A self-described outspoken person, she said she wasn't intimidated by Neupauer, rather she looked at it as an opportunity to impress the college president.
Kim Niday said the class was never awkward regarding Neupauer's administrative status, but confessed she feels an increased desire to do well.
A nontraditional student planning to transfer to Slippery Rock University, she's now at her third community college and never heard of a college president teaching a class.
"I don't know how he has the time," she said.
Neupauer said the open classroom environment the students described is what he strives for as an instructor.
He would much rather be a "sage on the stage"professor than one who lets students memorize the part in his hair as he stares at his notes on the podium.
His students described him as a fair instructor, too. One who makes sure students know and have a chance to prepare - even for "unannounced" quizzes.
"Even if you slipped up, you had a chance to redeem yourself," Kersten said.
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