Dr. Paul Eggen
What have you learned from students over your years at UNF?
Is there one event that’s most memorable for you during your time at UNF?
There have been a great many, but the 25th anniversary celebration was one of the most notable. We, as founding faculty, were on a high at that time seeing the changes that had occurred in the University from the time it opened. It was also a huge gala.
What the best thing (or things) about working at UNF?
The best thing about working here is seeing students you’ve taught go on and succeed in their own work and then hoping that perhaps you contributed in some way to their success and satisfaction.
What people do you remember the most during your years, and why are they so memorable?
Andrew Robinson, our second dean, was one of the very most memorable. I vividly remember his deep-throated laugh, his sense of humor, and how he would growl with a small smile, “Eggen, I think I’ll have you do this for me.” I did a lot of work for him over the years, and I respected him enormously.
The people I work with and have worked with, like Royal Van Horn, Pritchy Smith, George Corrick and others, are also memorable because I enjoy them both professionally and personally, and because I have spent a lot of time with them.
Any humorous times you recall, and why were they so funny?
One of the best was the time we had an alligator sunning himself on the deck just below what is now the Schultz Education Building; and a second was Roy Singleton getting bitten by a snake as he walked out to his car after finishing class at 11 p.m. (Fortunately, the snake wasn’t poisonous.)
What have you done during your time at UNF that you are proudest of?
I am most proud of a letter written to our dean several years ago from a personnel director in Clay County named Neal Sanders. (I still have the letter.) In the letter Neal said, “I always ask teachers what course they took at UNF that they feel they learned the most from, and I am taken by the fact that they so often cite Dr. Eggen’s Dynamics of Learning class.”
Promoting student learning is the reason we exist, and having students say that they learned a lot from my teaching was and is very rewarding.
What are the biggest changes in your personal life while you have been working at UNF?
I guess the biggest changes are seeing my son and daughter grow up, go to school, marry, complete their graduate work and move into the mainstream of their lives.
This next school year I will also see my wife retire after completing 30 years as a junior high social studies teacher at Lakeside Junior High in Orange Park.
What were you doing just prior to coming to UNF?
I was finishing my PhD. UNF was my first position out of graduate school, and it has been my only job in higher ed.
How have students changed over the last 35 years?
I believe students have a bit more of a “consumer” mentality now than they did in the early years. Also, our student body has become much more typical of students in universities. For example, when we first opened, the average age of the student body was older than the average age of the faculty.
What was your favorite year at UNF and why?
I know this will sound a bit like “schlock,” but each one gets better. For example, people like me can work for all the right reasons. I’ve been a full professor for 27 years, so promotion isn’t an issue. My wife and I live on a double income, so money isn’t a primary issue. I can ignore some of the less pleasant political issues.
I can teach and write for the sheer joy of trying to get people to learn. It’s very liberating, and it’s a true pleasure.
How would describe the physical growth on campus over the last 35 years?
How will you keep UNF in your life and heart after you retire?
I plan to work part time, so UNF will remain in my life. It will always be in my heart.
What special relationships have you formed with students as a result of your tenure here?
The relationships that are most special result from spending a great deal of time with students, such as guiding theses and then seeing masters students go off to work on their doctorates at places like the University of Florida.
What are the biggest challenges on campus today compared to the biggest challenges on opening day, Oct. 2, 1972?
This may be naïve, but they seem much the same to me. We were trying to get students to learn then, we’re still trying to get them to learn, and we’re still complaining that they don’t learn as much as they should.
How has UNF impacted Jacksonville over the years, and how has Jacksonville impacted UNF?
It has impacted Jacksonville in the same way that having a substantive public university impacts any city. Jacksonville has impacted UNF in that we have attempted to respond to the needs of the city as described by city leaders.
How did you find out about the opening at UNF?
Through a routine announcement.
What made you decide to come to UNF?
My wife. She said, “Let’s strike out on our own.” We knew no one; we knew little about Florida (we had lived all of our lives in the Far West); we knew very little about UNF. And, the prospect of being a new faculty member in a new university was very exciting.
What do you remember about the first day of classes?
I was sweaty.
What kept you at UNF for so many years?
Very simply, I’ve been happy here.
What are the biggest changes you’ve witnessed at UNF?
In a macro sense, the biggest change has been the move from an upper-division-only university, with no on-campus housing, and an older student body, etc., toward a more “traditional” university—on-campus housing, sororities and fraternities, intercollegiate athletics, more typically aged students, and so on.