Professors by class time, authors by vacation time

Maggie Seppi

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By: Maggie Seppi, Assistant News Editor

(Photo by Sean Murphy)

At UNF, there are well-liked professors who students rave about for years to follow, as well as those who are given a low rating on Rate My Professor, deeming them and their classes things to avoid perpetually.

Their reputations as professors are spread in various ways, but their reputations as authors are often never discussed, if even discovered, by students. However, numerous UNF professors write and even get published in their spare time, an activity that requires a delicate balance of writing and, well, everything else.

Professor and Chairman of UNF’s English Department Sam Kimball authored “The Infanticidal Logic of Evolution and Culture,” a piece focusing on the argument that any living thing must avoid wastefulness and that such economization is infanticidal in its implications.

Kimball said for him, writing is a complicated process. However, he was able to incorporate his writing in his classroom by writing on a topic relevant to the lessons he was teaching at the time.

The book itself was not implemented in his classroom, due to its high price, but it is available elsewhere for anyone interested in checking it out.

Although Kimball has not received any royalties, due to the fact that those often are not awarded until the individual has his or her piece printed a second time, he enjoyed his time spent writing.

“This was a labor of love, not a labor for money,” Kimball said.

Michael Hallett, professor and chairman of the UNF Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, authored “Private Prisons in America.” Hallett also co-authored “U.S. Criminal Justice Interest Groups: Institutional Profiles” with Dennis J. Palumbo.

Hallett’s “Private Prisons in America,” which can be found as close as the UNF Bookstore, focuses on the role of for-profit prisons in the oppression and legal discrimination aimed most often at African-American men.

He said writing is complicated for him because it requires large blocks of time, and, as an administrator, he has unplanned occurrences pop up in his day.

He implements the book in class, both as a required text and a supplemental one. And feedback has been pretty positive, Hallett said.

Hallett is currently working on another piece, entitled “Re-entry to What?,” which takes a look at inmates who re-enter prison in a precarious economy.

His advice for anyone hoping to write a book is to follow their passion, as he has done.

“Writing a book is a series of setbacks really, with the writing and rewriting,” Hallett said. “You’ll be devoting an inordinate amount of time to writing a book, so choose a subject you love.”

UNF Professor of Accounting and Finance Tom Barton has similar advice for writers-to-be but said being an author is an integral part of being a professor, so it is imperative to make time for it.

“We, as professors, are evaluated on teaching, research and service,” Barton said. “[My book] was part of my research, so you carve out time during Spring Break, Christmas vacation, whenever.”

Barton co-authored “Tell Me How You Love the Picture” with Edward S. Feldman, as well as writing other, more academic research-related pieces. “Tell Me How You Love The Picture” focuses on how movie producers balance the need to control a movie’s budget, while making it creative and appealing to viewers.

Barton spent time interviewing movie producer and fellow author Edward Feldman, who has managed the budget for several movies, including “The Truman Show,” starring Jim Carrey and “Witness,” starring Harrison Ford.

Barton interviewed Feldman and spent time on the set to get a feel for what it was like to oversee the production of the films.

“I was curious about how a producer can do this,” Barton said. “How do you make sure you aren’t being too tight-fisted but that you also aren’t letting the creative people run the budget?”

The book also takes a look at Feldman’s life, as Barton wrote it in first person, as if Feldman himself were writing it.

Barton implements the piece in his accounting and film class and has received encouraging feedback.

“The book is funny, yet has a lot of good stories about the business side you don’t hear very often,” Barton said. “It’s very easy to read and very chatty because that’s how Ed wanted it to be.”

Mark Ari, a UNF English professor and author of several poetry pieces, as well as a novel, agreed writing can be a time-consuming process. Ari, however, differs from the previous professors in that he does not implement his work in the classroom.

“I rarely even talk about my work,” Ari said. “This is the first time I’ve talked about it in quite some time. So, when students find my work, it’s fun for both of us.”

Ari is also the founder of FictionFix, a literary journal now going on 10 years of existence.

FictionFix has a staff of readers who are responsible for reading the stories submitted to the website and picking the most qualified. The journal is nationally recognized and nominates people for some of the major prizes, such as the Best American Short Story and Best of the Web.

On two occasions students have come across Ari’s novel, “The Shoemaker’s Tale,” and brought it to him.

Ari, who is also a painter and musician, said it is imperative to continually make progress in these activities.

“I don’t allow for any of this to become a pastime, which means I don’t have a social life for the large part, which is all right because I’m happy doing this,” Ari said. “I make sure I spend time every day doing the things that define myself to myself, and beyond that, I devote the rest of my time to my students.”

Email Maggie Seppi at [email protected]