Dr. Robert Prickett had already recieved tenure and a promotion to associate professor of English education. Just a few months earlier he was offered another promotion at the beginning of the Fall 2013 semester as department chair of English.
“I was walking up the stairs the first day back from summer,” Prickett said, “and Dr. Hecimovich said, ‘Can I talk to you?’ And I laughed and said, ‘I’m not getting fired am I? I just got tenure.’’
Hecimovich, who was having his “15 minutes of Warholian fame” with the opportunity to write a book, wanted Dr. Prickett to replace him as department chair.
Prickett came to Winthrop University almost four years ago from Centenary College of Louisiana, where he was department chair of English.
In his time at Winthrop, Prickett has published an article on “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton; he has given a presentation at Dragon Con entitled “Why Am I Not Dead?: The Dystopian Heroine’s Happy (?) Ending;” and he will soon be publishing an article about the Divergent series in the “SIGNAL Journal.”
Prickett has an extensive background in English education. He grew up and attended college in Indiana at Ball State University where he received his Bachelor of Science in English and journalism.
After graduation, Prickett moved with his wife Meg Webber, who also works at Winthrop, to Roanoke, Va., where he taught high school English for six years before beginning work on his doctorate in English, curriculum and instruction at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Once he completed his doctorate, Prickett began searching the country for jobs. He had offers from two schools, the University of Alabama and Centenary College of Louisiana, a small liberal arts school.
Prickett chose Centenary College for the ability to interact with students. He was soon promoted to department chair of English at Centenary College.
Prickett said interacting with students remains his favorite part of the job.
“I completely value education,” Prickett said. “For me, it truly is all about interacting with students and thinking about the impacts you are going to make.”
Prickett’s student interactions have left a lasting impression on some students.
“He was really, like, perky for a guy,” sophomore English major Brittany Rauch said. “He’s really good at encouraging students. And he’s really good at bringing out their best and letting them have fun in the midst of learning.”
“He’s definitely passionate about teaching,” senior English major Katey Murphy said. “As someone who wants to teach, I like his fun but informative teaching style.”
Dr. Casey Cothran, assistant professor of English, expressed a similar sentiment about Prickett.
“My favorite thing about him is his sense of humor and optimism. He is able to find things to smile and laugh about in almost any situation,” Cothran said.
When he took over the position as department chair, Prickett had to go from teaching four classes to teaching one in order to be able to fulfill his new duties.
While Pricket said he has “thoroughly enjoyed the transition,” he said he does miss interacting with students and hopes to find a balance between teaching and befing department chair by perhaps picking up another class.
“It is an entirely different gig,” Prickett said. “But I’m enjoying it enough that I’m not dreading the next year,” he said with a laugh.
Although Prickett has only been in the position since Jan. 2, he has been hard at work trying to better the department by creating class schedules, conducting interviews and reviewing curriculum.
“I’m at the point where I get to have some effect on the English department here and possibly the college and university,” Prickett said.
Prickett has also had the opportunity to incorporate some of his fun-loving personality into the department.
“One thing that he does which is sort of fun is send Monday morning emails which energize and cheer up those of us in the department,” Cothran said.
While Prickett’s job description has changed significantly since walking up the stairs in August, his passion for teaching and reading literature remains unchanged.