Faculty Spotlight: Tony Jasnowski
Faculty Spotlight: Tony Jasnowski
Meet Tony Jasnowski, Bellevue University English Professor
How long have you been at Bellevue University? 23 years; started in the fall of 1993
What programs/ classes do you teach? English composition primarily
Tell us about your previous work/schools? BU is my first full time job. I taught half time and part time at UNO from 1981 to 1993. I also taught part-time at the College of St. Mary from 1980 to 1983
Degrees/awards: I have a PhD in Rhetoric and Composition from UNL. I have an MA in English from UNL, and I have a BA in English from the University of Dallas.
What do you love most about teaching at Bellevue University? It’s hard to identify what I love “most” since there are so many things I love about teaching at BU—my students, the freedom and encouragement we are given to innovate, my cool office, so many kind and considerate colleagues in all the offices at the University—the Library, the Writing and Tutoring and Testing Centers, advising, Student Support Services, the coaches, security, financial aid, the registrar, marketing, computer services, the administrative staff for all the colleges at the University. After 23 years, I have had the opportunity to develop relationships with so many on campus, but I guess what I love most of all would have to be my fellow faculty. It is such an honor to be counted among their ranks. Students come and go, but my fellow faculty remain for a little longer at least to support and inspire and delight.
What motivates or inspires you? My fellow faculty. I am surrounded by so many smart and dedicated and skilled colleagues, people who really know how to teach and create an environment for authentic student learning. I probably shouldn’t mention names since there is no way that I can name all the inspirational faculty at BU, but if I could be more like Kate Joeckel and Pat Artz and Karla Carter and Bob Hankin and Gloria Lessmann and Roxanne Sullivan, my students would be so much better off in my classes.
What experiences or people had the most influence on you? Mr. Richard Schanou, my high school English teacher at Aurora High School, was a tremendous influence on me. He truly had a gift for encouraging and challenging you and helping you achieve more than you thought you were capable of. There were probably two experiences that influenced me the most. One was being part of a family with immigrant parents. My parents and oldest sister and brother emigrated from Poland to America following WWII. Three more children, including me, were born in America. So I grew up with a strong respect and appreciation for my Polish ancestry. The second most influential experience in my life had to be the five years I spent studying to be a priest for the Lincoln, NE Diocese at Holy Trinity Seminary in Dallas, TX. Although I never became a priest, I did earn my BA in English while in the seminary and I discovered and embraced the many riches and splendors of my Roman Catholic faith.
What interests you outside the classroom? What are you passionate about? I enjoy theater very much. My wife and I try to see as many good plays as we can whether those are at the Omaha Community Playhouse or at some other professional or community theater in town or at a local college, high school, or even elementary school. And I’ve become an avid watcher of The Walking Dead television series.
What is your favorite teaching experience or memory? I guess I would have to say my favorite memory is the short story class that I taught at UNO just before I became full time at BU. Most of the courses that I have taught in my career have been courses that students are required to take in order to graduate—first year composition courses or the Signature Series. But that short story class was an elective, and having students in class who have freely elected to take the class because of their interest in the topic and their desire to learn makes all the difference in the world. I looked forward to coming to class each week. Everyone contributed to our discussions as we laughed and argued and learned while the time flew by.
What career did you dream of when you were a child? Like many English majors, I suppose, my fantasy was to be a famous writer.
Where did you grow up? Aurora, NE, the county seat of Hamilton County. It is also the hometown of Dr. Harold Edgerton, the inventor of the strobe light and high-speed flash photography.
What is your favorite book? The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
What is the most important piece of advice you give to your students? I guess it’s advice based on a quote from novelist and short story writer Flannery O’Connor: “There’s a certain grain of stupidity that the writer . . . cannot do without, and that’s the quality of having to stare, of not getting the point at once.” So I advise my students not to be so smart. Take a second look at what they think they already understand or know so well and risk discovering just how much they may have missed or misunderstood.