Jerome Megna received his B.A. in English and Philosophy from St. Francis College in Brooklyn, and his M.A. in Linguistics and English and American Literature from New York University. In 1969, he was offered a doctoral fellowship in English here at Ball State University. While here, he taught and worked on his dissertation: The Poetry of Sylvia Plath. He went on to hold several positions including Assistant Professor and Assistant Dean in the College of Education at C.U.N.Y, and a Dean at Rider University and William Paterson University.
Why did you decide to pursue an academic life?
Ever since I was in my teens, I wanted to become a teacher. After I did and taught all grades from 6 to 12, I wanted to teach in college. I was about 30 when I won a fellowship for a doctorate at Ball State.
What was the nature of your research/scholarship?
I studied Old English, Middle English and Modern English & American Literature. My other two cognates were Linguists & Education. My special area of research was the teaching of writing.
What was most fulfilling to you about teaching?
Teaching was exciting for me. I always felt I learned more after a class than what I knew before it. In the beginning (1969), my students at BSU had some difficulty understanding my Brooklyn accent. After a couple of weeks, however, they got it. (And I got theirs!)
What was most fulfilling to you about administration?
Teaching was much more rewarding to me than administrating. But administration required good listening skills, which I hope I quickly acquired. I learned much from both experiences, but teaching has always been my first choice.
Do you have any advice for English majors who are contemplating graduate school with the goal of “becoming professors”?
Observe closely; make your questions count; learn things in context. Teaching requires lots of patience and empathy. Do you have them? Can you look at things from others’ points of view? Are you prepared to understand how people learn? Do you really want to do these things for the rest of your life?