Thursday, November 05, 2009

An Email to Make a Professor's Day

I get a lot of emails from former students. It's always nice to know they actually want to stay in touch even when they are no longer 'required' to communicate with me because they are taking a class. It's also nice to know what happens to students after they move on. I have several years of intense involvement, and then "poof"--they're gone. I like to hear where they ended up getting their first job, where they are living, if they got married, etc.

Public relations is about relationships; so is teaching, and life in general. One of the greatest joys of being a professor is watching young people mature and develop, to go from timid sophomores to passionate and articulate seniors. And then, to going from being a student to being a peer, a colleague, a friend.

So when I received this email this week, it made my day, my week, my semester:

Hi Tim,

I just wanted to tell you thank you. I know it's been six years since I graduated (how can it really be that long?), but a PR class many years ago where you taught us media training has been invaluable this week. In that class, we had to stand in front of class and be prepared for reporters' (our classmates') questions. You taped the interviews and then played them back and we critiqued them.

This week, I am one of a team of eight who is teaching media training to high ranking military officers from 45 different countries. The basic skills I learned in your class I am now teaching to these students.

Thank you for such a great class and such a fantastic undergrad education. I couldn't have done this without you.

Wow. The truth is, I couldn't be a great professor without the validation and encouragement from great students and alumni.

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