SUU In View (Alumni Magazine - Spring 2002)
Teaching At SUU: A Family Tradition
There's definitely a gleam of pride in the eyes of VR Magleby as he recounts how he and, by extension, his posterity, were first introduced to SUU. And, to be sure, pride is not only allowed but expected, as Magleby is the scion of three generations of teachers at the University.
His daughter, Bonnie Bishop, is an associate professor of child development, having taught at the Institution since 1969. And Bonnie's son Kyle Bishop is in his first full-time role as a faculty member in the information systems/business education department.
VR reaches back in his memory across the decades to what he calls a "little starve-to-death farm" near Monroe, Utah, in the Great Depression. It was from there, in 1934, that he had the opportunity, through the government aid program called National Youth Administration, to attend college. "Since the BAC was the closest, and pretty much the best for me, I went to Cedar City," he says. "I never really expected I'd be back after I graduated."
In fact, all three members of the triumvirate came to teach at SUU by something less than design. As Kyle notes, this is but one facet of many the trio has in common. All three, for example, met their spouses on blind dates set up by friends. Their SUU bond, they agree, goes beyond mere employment.
VR's love for the Cedar City school sprouted when he was a student under the tutelage of dedicated teachers such as Parley Dalley and D.L. Sargent; legends, as he would himself become, in the history of the University. He worked off his tuition with long hours at the College Farm for $60 per month, and graduated with an associate degree in agriculture before transferring to USU to earn his bachelor's and master's degrees.
VR taught vocational agriculture for three years at Cyprus High School in Magna, Utah, beginning in 1939, at a salary of $100 a month. It was there that he met his wife, Ila Stock, on a blind date while she was a nursing student at Salt Lake City's Holy Cross Hospital. They were married in 1940. She was already familiar with VR's higher educational roots, as her mother, Clara Williamson, had been one of the first graduates of the one-year Branch Normal School teacher preparation program.
Not long after the couple's wedding came America's involvement in World War II. VR was drafted into the Army in 1942, the same year Bonnie, the first of three children, was born. But his induction was stalled for nearly two years by a deferment as he moved to Ogden to run the farm program for the Utah School for the Deaf. Some years later, the School folded its dairy program and sold its livestock to Snow College, which soon hired VR to run its agriculture program and the college farm. But in 1948, H. Wayne Driggs, the director of BAC, lured VR to Cedar City, and thus, the beginning of VR's 33-year career at SUU, in which he ran the College Farm and taught biology, genetics, animal husbandry, zoology, forestry and dairy management.
"He was known for his sense of humor," Bonnie comments. VR shrugs, digs a toe into the carpet, and admits that he was, indeed, a popular teacher.
While SUU still proudly boasts of its close faculty-student relationships, VR notes that in his early days, the atmosphere was even closer. "We went to all the dances, pep rallies, games and plays. In fact, many of the faculty members were in the plays. None of this was because we had to; it was just part of our lives, and the college was so much a part of the entire community," he says.
This closeness was a large part of the environment in which young Bonnie grew up during the '50s and '60s. "It was always understood that we children would go to college and it was almost a given that we'd attend SUU," Bonnie says.
However, Bonnie had little desire to teach. "It just kind of happened," she says, "but I've loved every minute of it." She earned her associate's degree in home economics from our Institution, and went on to earn a bachelor's degree, then a master's, in child development, from USU.
Still, she wasn't sure what she wanted to do, but was considering becoming what was then called an airline stewardess. But then, she met Kent Bishop on a blind date, and eventually married him. Kent taught history at Cedar High School, so Bonnie took a part-time job working at the University's pre-school, evolving into a faculty member and integral individual on campus, serving a stint as department chair and many years as the manager of the pre-school lab. She was named an SUU Distinguished Educator in 1989.
Kyle's appointment to the SUU faculty was somewhat of an accident as well. After graduating from Cedar High in 1992, he went to BYU on full scholarship, which, he says, is the only way his parents would allow him to bypass SUU. He earned a bachelor's degree in humanities with a specialty in art history. Then, he obtained his master's degree in English with an emphasis in film from the University of Utah in 1998. "I loved the academic environment," Kyle says. "I took as many classes as I could and had three minors as an undergraduate. I found the intellectual give-and-take of higher education very stimulating."
After all, he grew up in an academic atmosphere, with parents, uncles and a grandfather who were teachers. Plus, he had the University practically in his backyard, as had his mother during her childhood. "I spent a great deal of my youth literally on the campus of SUU," he says. "Every day after school I would roam the grounds playing and learning and growing in all sorts of ways while waiting for my mother to finish her workday. The school was a second home to me."
Upon completion of his master's degree, Kyle returned home to Cedar and was soon pressed into service teaching business English for IS/BE as a half-time adjunct lecturer. He found that he loved teaching. This year, he accepted a full-time position.
"This experience teaching at SUU has solidified my desire to do this the rest of my life," he says. He especially cherishes the camaraderie among the faculty and its dedication to the welfare of students. "It is gratifying to have mentors among the faculty, who are friends and colleagues. Everyone helps fulfill the goal of educating students."
Is there a fourth-generation of SUU instructors coming? Kyle and his wife Rachel, a secretary for the music department, show the same Thunderbird spirit and pride in their eyes as VR and Bonnie, and declare confidently, "Of course!"