I looked for a position at a small college where excellent teaching was the primary mission.

John TiftickjianBy the time I completed my degrees in botany, I knew I loved to teach, so I looked for a position at a small college where excellent teaching was the primary mission. Delta State University fit that requirement. Twenty-one years later, it still fits.

I grew up in Arkansas and Florida and studied botany at the University of Florida and Washington State University. After spending a number of years in the West, coming to Delta State was in some ways a homecoming for me. The biology faculty here were the friendliest I had every met and were a great group to work with. From the beginning, I have enjoyed the students here. The small classes gave me the opportunity to get to know them individually and really become involved in their academic careers.

After 21 years here, things have changed quite a bit: new faculty joined our team; new buildings were built on campus, and technology increased enormously. In my first year at Delta State, our department had only one telephone, and personal computers were a rare sight. Now of course, all faculty have computers (as do most students), there are several computer labs on campus, the campus network is thriving and continues to grow, computer-enabled classrooms and web-assisted courses have become the norm, and the Internet is everywhere. Even though DSU’s technology has advanced, and teaching methods have evolved, we still have the small, personal atmosphere that our students cherish.

Our goal in the sciences is to prepare students for whatever their chosen path might be, whether it is to become a chemist, a biologist, a science teacher, or to prepare for advanced study in the sciences or in one of the health professions. Regardless of that choice, our faculty believes that the best approach is to provide a strong foundation in the sciences. As a professor, that’s what I am most interested in. Delta State has been for me the right kind of place to make it happen.