‘Dr. McD’ retires after 41 years

Posted on 01 May 2013 by admin

Students, faculty reflect on Dr. Larry McDoniel’s impact in the classroom


Using a workshop approach with his students, Larry McDoniel critiques a students final paper in his Tuesday afternoon class. “I introduce the topic and I critique as they work on it.” | PHOTO: Tegan Mazurek

Staff Writer

The official retirement of Dr. Larry McDoniel, aka “Dr. McD,” rapidly approaches after roughly 41 years of teaching in Meramec’s English department.

McDoniel’s spirit and philosophy of teaching is readily apparent to many his students and colleagues. Those themes include mentoring, empowerment, process and patience.

McDoniel describes his teaching style as “student-centered rather than teacher-centered” where he acts as more of a facilitator rather than a lecturer. His students agree.

“I never had to write papers before and he helped me learn to write papers,” student Kayla Tulay said. “He really wants to see everyone succeed and he takes his time, and is very patient with everyone, and he likes to get to know everyone as an individual and what we are like at those levels according to our own personalities.”

McDoniel’s personalized approach with students serves as an example for students and other instructors.

“He gets to know us individually.  It seems like he really cares about us as an individual and is extremely supportive to the individual,” student Taylor Perkins said.

“[McDoniel] has interesting personal stories for every paper,” student Vesna Knezevic said. This helps McDoniel build  rapport and personal connection with his students.

Another skill McDoniel employs to connect with students is building trust and incorporating humor into his class with personal stories.

“He just sort of makes the class fun, and he has a good sense of humor,” student Brian Stoverink said.

Even though McDoniel includes humor among the multiple tools in his teacher’s toolbox, his primary focus is on developing students’ writing skills.

“I mean, I’m teaching writing, what am I going to do, sit up there and lecture about it?  Am I going to stand up there and talk to students about this is how you do it, you know this is, this usually turns into the song of myself, this is how I do it.  I wasn’t interested in that,” McDoniel said.

His personable approach has left a lasting impression on many of his students this semester at Meramec.

“I like the fact that he treated us like adults. He didn’t hold our hand or anything. He also is very professional,” student Donald Marschall said.

Student Starisia Finney said McDoniel’s teaching approach was helpful to her.

“Once I got into this class, I was able to find out how much I grew as a writer,” Finney said. “He helped me to be able to grow and be able to see what I didn’t see in my writing at first. It was just a good experience to know that I could know that I can work on these things and still become a good writer, and how it’s a good process also.”

Colleagues also attest to McDoniel’s theme of process and empowerment.

“He is the professor who is the most committed to the writing process of invention, planning, drafting, revising and editing.  He just has that down,” English professor Timothy Little said. “He can communicate that road to success in the writing process.  He gives them a road map that breaks the writing process down so students of any level can apply it; even students who don’t think they can write.”

According to English department professor Eric Meyer, McDoniel did not limit his mentoring to students.

“As a mid-career colleague, when I think of some of the most influential people in my teaching life over the past ten years Larry has been an unbelievable mentor — not just me, to many other people in this department, and in such a genuine and subtle way too,” Meyer said. “He’s really thoughtful about his mentorship. He is like a physician who wants to know more about your question or your problem or your issue before he can really give you advice and that advice is very often empowering.”

McDoniel’s “real” approach with students and faculty has left a lasting impression on the Meramec campus community, Meyer said.

“Larry McDoniel is the real deal,” Meyer said. “Teaching two-year college students has been and still is his life’s work.  It is not a job for Larry; it is who Larry is.  It’s a calling.  Larry is the real deal.”


Advertise Here

Photos from our Flickr stream

See all photos

Advertise Here

Upcoming Issues

Dec. 7, 2017
Jan. 25, 2018
Feb. 8, 2018
Feb. 22, 2018
March 8, 2018
March 29, 2018
April 19, 2018
May 3, 2018