Faces: Michael Porter

Thursday, March 17, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:11 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Michael Porter said he thinks he has one of the best jobs at MU. As a communications professor and director of special degree programs, Porter has the opportunity to get to know the person behind the student number.

“I have one of the best jobs on campus because I get paid to sit around and talk to students all day,” Porter said. “The reason I enjoy that is because I make myself consciously aware that every student has a very interesting story.

“Each student has a different set of parents, different hopes and dreams, and different career aspirations,” he said, “and I get to hear about those when I talk with them one-on-one.”

As an extension of this awareness, Porter takes photos of his students and hangs them in his office to help him learn their names and faces.

Although Porter is happy to hear your story, he is excited to tell his as well. In his classes, he shares photos of his grandchildren, Clemmie and Toby, by including the most recent photos of them in his PowerPoint lectures. His students also know about his wife and two sons as well as Porter’s favorite music selections, which he plays before his class begins.

Porter began his teaching career in Minnesota, where he taught high school English. After completing graduate school at the University of Iowa, where he earned his doctorate in 1975, he taught at the University of Houston for four years.

“Once I taught college students, I realized this was the age group for me and never stepped foot in a high school again,” Porter said.

After his short stint in the South, Porter and his wife moved to Columbia, both to work at MU. Twenty-six years later, they are still employed by the communications department and the MU Sinclair School of Nursing, where Rosemary Porter serves as dean.

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