A Professor of English for TWU, Dr. Stephen Souris has been here for over 24 years. After he graduated in 1992 from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, he came straight to Texas. When he got here, he said: “I was fortunate to have two simultaneous offers – one was from a small college in a small town and the other was TWU. I chose TWU!” Throughout his career at TWU, Dr. Souris has learned many a valuable lesson about teaching: “Lecturing, no matter how informative is insufficient.” He found that creating collaborative learning groups and facilitating class discussions got the students more engaged with the material than simply through a lecture.
Dr. Souris described his journey to become a professor as tough and challenging. In order to fulfill his dream of becoming a university-level, tenure-line professorship, he needed a Ph.D. and that was more difficult than he thought it would be. Doctoral candidates have to take comprehensive exams that are based off of massive reading lists followed by the arduous dissertation phase. Once someone gets their Ph.D., a job is not a given. “For many fields there is little certainty of a job at the end of the process—especially these days. By definition, anyone who manages to land a tenure-line professorship has been through a lot” he says.
Dr. Souris loves teaching because of the “challenge of sharing my enthusiasm for literature with students.” He says that the diversity of TWU allows for interesting class discussions. The diversity combined with the supportive, friendly atmosphere of the campus is what Dr. Souris loves about the university. Dr. Souris also loves that “people all over campus genuinely want to be helpful as TWU is a special university with a special mission.”
Currently, Dr. Souris is working on a project involving Texas Poet Laureate teaching poets in Texas. One of the most interesting things that he has learned since starting the project is that he’s discovered “students who think they don’t like or understand poetry can be successfully introduced to poetry as a genre by reading Texas poets.”
When asked about what advice he had for college students, Dr. Souris had plenty of helpful tips. “
1. Don’t be a minimalist student focused on how to get away with as little as possible. Seek out and embrace the opportunities and challenges your courses offer. Enhance your critical thinking skills, get involved, and prepare yourself to be as flexible and resilient as possible.
2. For writing, make sure you learn how to generate error-free sentences.
3. Learn how to read actively – this will help with comprehension and recall.”