Professor teaches for the laughter

One UVM professor does not know how he chose his career.

Todd McGowan has been a professor in the English department at UVM for 15 years.

Though he mainly teaches classes in the film and television studies program now, he still teaches graduate English classes, he said.

He said he tries to keep his classes fun, yet rigorous.

“If they learn something, I don’t really care, but if they’re laughing that’s what I really strive for,” McGowan said.

If he wasn’t a professor, he said he would be a doctor.

“I feel like I’m not doing anything to help anyone and I feel bad about that a lot,” he said. “So I think if I was a doctor I’d feel better about that.”

He said he doesn’t even know if he wants to be a professor now.  

“I guess there was just nothing else that I thought I could do,” McGowan said.

He’s proud when he is able to get through a class and make  a lecture last the entire time, McGowan said.

“I came to film in a very haphazard way,” McGowan said.  “I just started to write about it and because I wrote about it, I thought I could teach it and then the University let me teach it and now they let me teach it even more.”

He said he often assigns books that connect philosophy with film.

McGowan received his master’s degree and Ph.D. in English at Ohio State University.  

After earning his Ph.D., he was a lecturer at Loyola Marymount University and then an assistant professor at Texas State University, according to his curriculum vitae.

He said he came to UVM to teach after his wife, Hilary Neroni, got a job here.  

He decided to follow Neroni because he didn’t enjoy teaching in Texas.

“Everything in my life I sort of come to by chance,” McGowan said.  “I don’t know how to plan.”

He said that while he loves interacting with the students, his favorite part of being a professor is reading.

“I can’t believe that I actually get paid to read books,” McGowan said.  “That’s the greatest thing.