Get to know your professors at WBU
Here at Williams Baptist University, we consider ourselves more of a family than simply a University. We pride ourselves in our ability to form close relationships between students and professors through Christ-centered education. This blog is created to help alleviate some of the stress incoming freshmen may be feeling when transitioning to college classes. After getting to know your professors at Williams, not only will the task of tackling college coursework become less daunting, it will be easier to form a close relationship with your professors in order to gain the best college experience possible. (Going to them for help when you need it won’t be nearly as intimidating!)
Professor: Melinda Williams
A.A. – Williams Baptist University
B.F.A. – Arkansas State University
M.A. – Arkansas State University
M.S. – Arkansas State University
Classes Taught: Speech and Communications, Theatre Appreciation, Oral Interpretation, Voice and Diction, Gender and Communications, along with classes associated with play production such as Theatre and Acting Workshop and Theatre Production Techniques.
Professor Williams has been at WBU for 37 years. Her outgoing personality and passion for theatre have helped students feel more comfortable in expressing themselves and allowed for our Theatre program to grow exponentially.
An interview with the professor herself!
What made you want to become a professor at WBU?
I wanted a job associated with theatre. When I got this job I was engaged, and my husband had a job in Lawrence County, so I needed to stay in this area. My high school theatre teacher had the job as an adjunct, and I was working in the admissions office here. When she decided to quit she told me about the job, and I applied for it. I love working in the theatre, but I also love to eat and have a roof over my head, which didn’t make me a good candidate for professional theatre.
What has changed the most since you started working here?
Everything. When I started I was adjunct, and this was a two-year school. The status has changed from two-year to four-year and then to a university. The name changed, administration changed, buildings were added… It is hard to pinpoint one thing, but, if I had to, I would say the change to a work college is going to be the biggest. We have always been tuition-driven, but I think this change is a good fit for us.
What is your teaching philosophy and class management style?
I want to open the students’ eyes to all the possibilities they have. When I talk to a student about journalism, they think of a print newspaper reporter and never imagine all the other things you could do with it. I am director of the Liberal Arts program which is a very flexible degree. I love talking to the students about their life goals and then fitting those into that degree. They never realize what is available to them. I like my classes to be relaxed, but not so relaxed that they are out of control, especially speech. The more relaxed the atmosphere, the more relaxed the student.
What are the benefits to teaching smaller classes?
You get to know the students, and they get to know you. Many times students open up more in a smaller class. You can get creative with assignments because you have time to grade them. In addition, I feel like I can give more constructive criticism to the individual to help them improve.
What is your favorite thing about teaching?
Working with the students. That seems like a pat answer, but it is true. One of my favorite times is when a student stays after class to talk to me about something we discussed in class. I got an email from a student last week who was excited about a play we would be studying in theatre appreciation because she worked on it in high school and loved the show. It made my day. I love seeing the students take what they learn in my courses and use it outside the classroom.
What made you want to pursue the profession?
I fought to not be a teacher. Every time my college advisor would talk to me about it, I would shut him down, but God opened this door and shoved me through it. It was His plan all along. He knew it was what I was meant to do. I didn’t pursue the profession, the profession found me and sucked me in, and I am so glad it did.
How do you incorporate your Christian worldview into your lesson?
We talk a lot about morals and good judgment, and not just from the view of academic integrity. In my communications classes, I really try to emphasize the moral obligation of a speaker to not mislead or manipulate an audience, which also applies in journalism. I really stress thinking of others and not yourself. Ethics has become a big aspect of my teaching.
Have you taught anywhere before coming to WBU? If so, how did that experience help you in your teaching here?
The only other thing I did, as far as teaching, before WBU was to teach a night class at BRTC. I had to take over for a teacher who couldn’t finish the semester. The students were distraught about not being able to finish the semester, etc. I realized how much a teacher influences not only the atmosphere of the class but the attitudes of the students. Most of my first days in that night class were spent putting the students’ minds at ease. It has helped a lot in the situation we have been in for the past year.
What advice can you give incoming freshmen?
You are here for an education, but that doesn’t just mean in the classroom. Education also comes from getting involved on campus, chapel, roommates… so many aspects of college life. Enjoy the time here and find your voice, but also, don’t forget you are here for an education in the classroom as well.
What activities or hobbies do you do outside of work?
I love to write; I just procrastinate. I love to go to the theatre but haven’t been able to do that in a while. We live on a cattle farm, and my family is very involved in livestock showing, both exhibiting animals and putting on shows. We are also officers in the Sloan-Hendrix FFA Alumni Association as well as the state Shorthorn Association.
If you had to pick another profession, what would it be?
Newspaper reporter. I did that for a while and loved it. It’s too bad print journalism is going to become a thing of the past.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
The flexibility I am allowed in my classroom and the theatre productions. It allows me to be creative and innovative. I also love doing the plays and co-directing The Cast. Even if I had this same job at another institution, I might not get to direct, and I definitely wouldn’t have a team like The Cast. I tell my students who are involved in those things that they are why I come to work.
What can students expect from you during class?
I hope the students see me as fair and encouraging. I also want them to know that I design my classes for their success. I want the students to succeed. I care about them and their success; I hope they realize that.