ROE R. Cross Distinguished Professor
Melvin G. Storm
1985 - Melvin G. Storm
Dr. Mel Storm is widely recognized for his dry wit and impeccable English style. Or for riding a Harley “Hog” and driving a yellow Jaguar.
Beyond those characteristics, though, he is known most for his passion for teaching.
“Teaching is one of the most important human activities,” said the professor, interim chair, and director of graduate studies in the Emporia State Department of English, Modern Languages, and Journalism. “If I didn’t believe this I wouldn’t have devoted my career to doing it.”
It’s the best of all worlds,” added Storm, “where one is paid to read, think about books, talk about ideas, and spend one’s time with like-minded colleagues and a perpetually changing landscape of usually inquisitive students.
Storm believes his growing up on a remote ranch in Wyoming had something to do with his desire to be a professor.
“It was no doubt the solitude that made a reader of me, and then, in turn, it was books that introduced me to worlds distant in time and place. It was just a matter of time before those worlds became my profession.”
Travel became a big part of his life and he gravitated toward medieval studies and the world of the 14th century. That helped develop his research, he said.
“I bring my research into my classes — which I hope are the better for it — even though collaborative research is difficult to manage in my specialty because of, particularly, the language skills required.
As might be expected from a hog-riding, jaguar-driving professor, Storm is not always conventional in teaching.
“I’ve never had much interest or faith in theories of teaching and learning, in the defining of methodologies. The most important thing for a professor to do is to know his subject to the best of his powers and to expect his students to learn it to the best of theirs. In the presence of such an implicit contract, the techniques of teaching and learning will take care of themselves.”
His ultimate goal, he says, is for his students “to love the things I love, but most important of all, I hope they discover the things they themselves love and develop the tools to pursue them. If they can learn to learn on their own, I have done my best job.”
Storm received his BA in English Literature from the University of Wyoming in 1966 with minor in art. He earned a masters at Wyoming in 1966 and his PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1973. Storm was a teaching assistant at Illinois from 1966-71 and then joined the Emporia State faculty in 1971. He once served as president of the ESU faculty.
Storm also served as advisor of the Quivira literary magazine and edited the Best of Emporia State, a publication that recognizes excellence in student writing. He edits Enarratio, a journal of medieval scholarship.
Storm has worked in at the Bodleian Library of Oxford University and in the British Library in London. He has taken groups of ESU students to the UK and Europe on numerous occasions.
According to Dr. Kendall Blanchard, one-time dean of the Emporia State College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, “Storm epitomizes the new model of the scholar-teacher. He is demanding yet entertaining, disciplined yet provocative. A class with Storm is for most of his students one of the most memorable events of their entire college experience.”
When discussing his teaching philosophy, Storm says, “I try to respect my students’ intelligence, never to neglect their humanity, and never to forget what it was like going through one of the most exciting, rewarding — and difficult — periods of life.”