A look into how Troy has changed

Priyanka Sharma

Staff Writer

Troy University has experienced a lot of change since it was established in 1887. Over those years, many things have changed at the university other than its student body.

Some of the faculty and staff have spoken about their experiences and feelings about Troy.

James Davis, assistant professor in the English department, has been a part of Troy for the past 32 years.

“I came in as a creative writing professor, and I probably might not have been able to do that as much at some other university in 1985,” Davis said. “At Troy, I get to do what I want to do, teach what I want to teach.”

Davis said he thinks that the expansion of the college programs and international students are some of the major changes that Troy has experienced over the years.

“Chancellor (Jack) Hawkins has changed the campus buildings; the quad is completely different; he has changed the programs that we offer; he has added many new programs—doctoral programs and nursing and other programs,” Davis said.

“He (Hawkins) has made us an international university by really extending the international programs,” Davis continued.

“It’s fun. It improves the classes to have so many different points of view from different parts of the world.”

Davis said he loves the freedom and the work environment at Troy University.

“I had started a science fiction course back in 1989, which I probably would not have gotten to do anywhere else, but here I got to make it a course and now it is an important part of the curriculum,” Davis said.

“I love the people that I work with—my fellow faculty members, the support staff, the secretaries, the student workers. This seems to be a really nice place to work at.”

Davis said that serving as the president of the Faculty Senate of Troy University all over the world was a real honor to him.

James Sherry, instructor in the modern languages and classics department, has been with Troy University since September 1976. During his time at Troy, Sherry has been under two separate chancellors, the late Ralph Adams and Jack Hawkins Jr. Sherry said he feels that his time at the university has been overwhelmingly positive.

He pointed out a significant increase in students over the years.

“When I first started, there were approximately 3,200 students, and the majority were from Alabama, Georgia and northwestern Florida,” Sherry said. “Over the past four decades, the enrollment has increased to about 7,800 students.”

He also said that the curriculum has expanded significantly and the community has become more diverse.

“Most importantly, the university has become one of the most international campuses in the southeastern United States,” Sherry said. “The students from Vietnam and, more recently, Nepal, have brought a cultural diversity to the campus that nobody could have predicted in the early 1980s.”

Sherry recalled one of his favorite memories, saying, “In 1984, I introduced a six-credit course known as French Culture on Location involving a two-week excursion to Paris.

“Establishing the Paris program and helping develop the University Honors Program in 1988 have been the most gratifying events in my Troy career.”

He said he also feels that the campus has been beautified over the years.

“Campus beautification has been a special project on Troy’s ‘first lady,’ Mrs. Janice Hawkins, and the renovation of Stewart Hall into a museum and garden are the most recent manifestations of this effort,” Sherry said.

Curtis Porter, associate vice chancellor of international affairs, came to Troy 46 years ago because he wanted to be at a teaching university rather than a major research university.  Porter said that the presence of international students is something that certainly stands out today.

“When I first came, there were almost no international students, and now international population is a very significant element at Troy University,” Porter said. “It really creates a different environment where there are so many people from so many different parts of the world, whereas before there were students from the local region.”

Porter expressed his close connection to the university over the years.

“My life for 46 years has been closely tied with Troy, its students and faculty,” Porter said.

“I cannot imagine life without Troy, and I am thankful for the university for letting me be here, Chancellor Hawkins for supporting the international vision of the university and for the great support we had for the thousands of students.”

Porter said feels that it is a culmination of many things that make Troy unique. He touched on the importance of Hawkins’ response to the U.S. government’s recent seven-country travel ban, his pride for Trojan athletics and his pride in students who further their educations by attending law school or Ph.D. programs.

“We are an exceptional place, not because of one thing but because of a combination of a number of things.”

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