By Ed Stozek
For the Herald
Graduating from a traditional rural high school setting and then attending classes at Brandon University from 1970-74 proved to be an educational and a social experience.
The faculty included a fascinating group of academics with many accomplishments in their area of expertise, as well as their other varied interests.
For my first university class I was greeted by professor “Doc” Hannah, a very friendly elderly gentleman with a large mustache. He generally wore a white lab coat and instructed our Zoology course. He was also the trainer for the Brandon University Bobcat hockey team, so sports-related stories were often integrated with his lectures from him.
Dr. William Norman Hargreaves-Mawdsley, a distinguished looking British gentleman sporting a three-piece suit, imparted his knowledge of European history with three one-hour lectures per week. Published in 1963, his book, A History of Academic Dress in Europe Until the Eighteenth Century, still remains a standard work on the subject.
One of our term assignments included an essay on the history of universities in Europe. In an era before computers and spellcheck I had missed the word university by adding an extra “n” throughout the whole essay. Dr. Hargreaves-Mawdsley noted that error in one of the classes and wanted to see the person who missed it. Since then I have never missed university again.
In 1962, a new Department of Geography at Brandon College was initiated by Dr. John Tyman.
“Three years later, there were five geography course offerings and Dr. John Welsted became the second full-time faculty member. When Brandon College achieved its university status in 1967, the Department began to set its own path. The first bachelor’s degrees with a major in Geography from Brandon University were offered in May 1968. Dr. Tyman served as Dean of Science from 1973 to 1975 and then moved to Australia.” (Brandon University AlumniNews 2012)
Dr. Tyman, often started off the first Physical Geography class of a new term by giving a lecture on the history of the evolution of the outhouse.
Some freshmen took detailed notes thinking that this was part of the course and that this was very important information. At the end of the class Dr. Tyman indicated that it was just a joke. Throughout the term we appreciated his wit him.
I ended up taking several geography courses. One evening in 1973 I accepted an invitation to bring my guitar and play some music with two of the faculty from the Geography Department.
One of the lecturers, Larry Clark, had a “get together” at his home. He was an excellent jazz musician who played as a solo act or with a band at various Brandon night spots. He had also played with the Country Gentlemen, a band that included Bill Hillman and Barry Forman.
Several years later, Clark took on the role of city planner in Brandon. He really changed careers when he became a forest ranger sitting at a fire tower for a record number of summers near the Big Whiteshell Lake.
While spending a great deal of time looking out for forest fires he occupied himself by playing guitar and composing songs. Those songs became part of a 1982 album entitled, Uncle Smokey Sings Folk Songs for the Summer Crowd with toe tapping tunes such as “Ode to a Wood Tick” and “Oh Boy Do I Love Bears.”
Dr. Richard Rounds also brought his guitar that evening. He was interested in pursuing some coffee house gigs.
We practiced singing and playing “Abilene” and a host of other classic country and folk songs.
Dr. Rounds had joined the Geography Department at Brandon University in 1970 and became the Founding Director of the Rural Development Institute (RDI) at Brandon University in 1989, a position he held for 10 years. He then became a member of the newly-established Department of Rural Development at Brandon University where he served as a professor until his retirement from him in 2002.
Educators make lasting impressions in a variety of ways.
Knowledge gained from their class time instruction is important, however, playing music one evening still stands out as one of the memorable highlights from attending university. I still occasionally strum the chords to “Abilene.”