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Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014

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Michael McTeague

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The Iron Man of Eastern Campus

After a half-century and three retirements, Mike McTeague proves the only constant is change


Mike McTeague was supposed to teach only one semester at Ohio University Eastern Campus when he was assigned a history course there in 1965. Nearly 50 years (and three retirements) later, he is still teaching history there.

“I didn’t actually apply for the job, but I wound up being here forever,” he said.

In those five decades, McTeague has performed almost every task imaginable in regional higher education, both academic and administrative. “I’ve been almost everything except librarian and janitor,” he said. “Although they let me drive the tractor last summer, so I cut the grass.”

Most recently, McTeague retired as the campus’s associate dean. He’s held numerous such positions at Eastern because he enjoys the change-up from the classroom, especially when he can tackle a particular issue at the dean’s request.

“I liked being the man behind the man in charge,” he said. “You don’t get a lot of the credit, but it lets you work on the task, and I enjoyed that part of it. Everybody needs a good number two, and I didn’t mind being behind the door.”

Pulling double duty isn’t common in the university anymore; academics are academics and administrators are administrators. But McTeague recalls when faculty at Eastern were expected to spend an evening a week at the academic advising desk in the dean’s office, helping students with financial aid and registration forms.

“You had to be multitalented, to be a faculty member teaching class and hold an administrative position at the same time,” he said.

When McTeague started teaching at Eastern, most of his students were adults — many of them former military personnel using their GI Bill benefits to improve their chances in the job market. Nontraditional students still walk the halls, but more of students at today’s Eastern campus are younger. And where they once had to transfer to Athens to complete their degrees, many students now use the Ohio University Learning Network to pick up required courses without having to move.

 “You don’t necessarily have the super-scholar, but they are hard-working, inquisitive individuals, and we have tenured faculty who provide them with a good deal of insight,” McTeague said. “If you want to teach, this is the place to be.”

McTeague started teaching at Ohio University in 1963 on the Athens Campus. Had his one semester at Eastern actually been just one semester, he probably would have had a very different career.

“I stayed in one place — I’m probably the last of my breed,” he said. “You’re not ever going to find anyone teaching 50 years in one place anymore.”

He’s not complaining. Through all the changes in facility, deans, bureaucracy and students, McTeague has remained a happy man.

“I never, ever didn’t want to come to work,” he said.

He will do just that next fall, after spending the summer in Florence researching the de Medici family.

“I’m probably here until they say, ‘Your services are no longer needed,’” he said.

The generations of students who have passed through Shannon Hall hope that day never comes.