Dr. John Wegner: Liberal Arts Techie
August 02, 2012
A 15-year Angelo State faculty member, Wegner is director of ASU’s Center for Innovation in Teaching and Research (CITR), where he instructs his fellow professors on using the latest computer software, equipment and other instructional materials to improve their teaching abilities, course delivery and student outcomes.
“What we try to do is provide training for faculty on new technology,” Wegner said, “doing the research associated with best practices, teaching and delivering lectures, or working with academic technology and helping to motivate students.”
The CITR also conducts faculty training workshops, and is at the forefront of several faculty development initiatives in student culture and diversity. Through the CITR, faculty can access instructional materials for everything from Student Learning Outcomes and mid-course evaluations to the latest instructional computer programs and a personal development plan. The CITR also conducts a Summer Institute on Teaching and Learning.
“What we try to do is provide training for faculty on new technology, doing the research associated with best practices, teaching and delivering lectures, or working with academic technology and helping to motivate students.”
With Wegner being such a tech-savvy professor, you might expect to find him teaching computer science or math. Surprisingly to some, he is an English professor with a love of southwestern and southern contemporary literature, including the works of James Joyce, William Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy.
As a doctoral student at the University of North Texas, Wegner spied McCarthy’s book All the Pretty Horses in a clearance bin at a bookstore. He read it and was impressed with McCarthy’s use of language and its similarity to Joyce and Faulkner. McCarthy became the subject of Wegner’s doctoral dissertation, and remains at the heart of his course curriculum.
“Great art captures the moment and transcends it somehow,” Wegner said. “Are there works and writers who can transcend that moment while capturing a sort of cultural snapshot? I think McCarthy does that really well and has done it consistently well over the course of his career. What interests me most is finding that person who is capable of doing that regardless of whether they are American or in the southwest or anything like that.”
When Wegner is not in the classroom or CITR, he can often be found wrapped up in his other passion – baseball. Growing up in the Houston area as an Astros fan, he holds a particular affinity for the National League and is not altogether pleased with the Astros’ impending move to the American League.
“Baseball should not be played with a designated hitter,” Wegner said. “Having said that, my younger son, Clay, is a huge Texas Rangers fan because he grew up here and that’s what is on TV.”
Also a big fan of local baseball, Wegner and his family frequent San Angelo’s Foster Field for games featuring the ASU Rams and minor-league San Angelo Colts.
“The Rams have a great baseball program,” he said, “and the Colts also put a pretty good product on the field. One of the nice things about living here is that we can go watch baseball during the spring and summer in a great facility.”
Wegner is currently planning a cross-country vacation with his wife, Lana, and their sons, Clay and Jordan, which will feature stops at several major league ballparks as the family continues to pursue its goal of visiting all the “lower 48” U.S. states.
“That is one of the things we wanted to do with the kids,” Wegner said, “but they are on their own for Alaska and Hawaii.”