Friday, January 14, 2022

An Interview with Author Timothy J. Brown, Ph.D.

An Interview with Author Timothy J. Brown, Ph.D.
Timothy J. Brown, Ph.D. is the Dean of Liberal Arts at Montgomery County Community College (Pennsylvania USA) where he oversees 15 departments that span the arts & humanities and social sciences. Dr. Brown is a rhetorical scholar whose research, teaching and consulting focus on the intersection of culture, communication, and identity. Prior to his current position, he served three years as the Dean of the James L. Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte. Previous to Queens University of Charlotte, he was a faculty member at West Chester University of Pennsylvania where he chaired the Department of Communication Studies for ten years. On the national level, Dr. Brown has been a motivational speaker and workshop presenter on leadership skills for the Federal Government’s Leadership Assessment Program. Among his many honors includes being named a Distinguished Teaching Fellow and a Distinguished Research Fellow by the Eastern Communication Association.  He received his B.A. and M.A. in Communication Studies from West Chester University of Pennsylvania and his Ph.D. in Rhetoric from Ohio University. 
Welcome, Tim!
GM: What is the premise of your new book No One Cheers for Goliath: My Leadership Journey?
TB: Regardless of your circumstances, you can become an effective leader if given the opportunity and support. This premise is supported by the following three themes: 
·  Effective leaders build authentic relationships that unlock the potential in others. 
·  The challenges in your life are preparing you for greater successes.
·  The African American struggle to overcome institutional racism is real. 
GM: You have traveled far to where you are today. What has been the motivation for your success?
TB: Internally, I’m a very competitive and driven person. I have high expectations for myself, and I want to be the best in whatever I do. Growing up, I was often overlooked in most areas such as in school and in sports. Being overlooked drove me to excel in whatever task that I undertook. Where I lacked knowledge or skills, I worked to acquire them and to get better. In the process, I noticed that most people were not willing to make the necessary sacrifices to be successful or were not committed to consistently producing at a high level. Regardless of the task, I learned to give my best effort and to take pride in my work even when it was not noticed by others. I learned this work ethic from my parents and from playing sports. I embraced these lessons and applied them to my career in academia. 
My work ethic echoes a quote from Bo Schembechler the late legendary football coach at the University of Michigan. My college roommate had the Schembechler quote hanging from his desk, and it stated, “Every day you either get better or you get worse.” That quote summed up my work ethic, and it became my motivating philosophy.  It has helped me to reach a level of success. It has reminded me to not become complacent. As I reached an accomplishment, I was motivated to start working on the next one.       
GM: What advice do you have for students who find it difficult to persevere?
TB: Find your purpose and embrace it. Surround yourself with people who are motivated and who encourage you in your endeavors.  Support others as you would like to be supported. Set your own goals and set them high.  Find mentors who can encourage you when times get tough. Be humble and continue to work hard; network and be ready for your next opportunity. I tell students that often we don’t pick our opportunity; our opportunity picks us. Don’t be afraid to pursue an opportunity. You’ll never reach your potential or grow as a person, if you don’t take some risks and, if you don’t take the opportunities that come to you. 
GM: As a writer, how do you maintain thoughts and ideas? 
TB: My key has been finding time to reflect upon ideas as they come to me, write them down, then develop a plan for turning the ideas into a finished product whether a conference paper, journal article, or book. Depending on the type of writing, I might organize my ideas in an outline then develop them or I might write free style, then work on organization and grammar later. 
For my book, the title and the chapters came to me in a dream. It was so vivid; I was able to remember everything and write it down on paper. I later typed them up as a document. After a few months, I made time to develop each chapter writing freestyle. As the chapters took shape, I went back and worked on organization, the development of ideas, and grammar. A great deal of time was spent perfecting the “voice” of the book and editing the grammar.  I totally enjoyed the process. 
GM: Who is your favorite author?
TB: Frederick Douglass. I’m constantly amazed by his personal story—how he escaped slavery and taught himself to read and write. His quest to educate himself propelled him to become one of the most powerful advocates for freedom and liberty of the 19th Century. Douglass would become not only one of the most compelling voices of the abolitionist movement but one of the most notable champions of freedom, equity, and inclusion of all time. He was an abolitionist, journalist, newspaper editor, political figure, recruiter for the union army, and informal advisor to President Lincoln. He was the nation’s conscience. It is astounding that during his lifetime, he rose out of slavery and poverty, oppressed at every turn by the U.S. government to later represent the U.S. government as its Ambassador to Haiti. 
His ability to use his personal story, via three autobiographies, to eloquently argue against slavery and all forms of discrimination is incredible. Given our troubling times, his writings and speeches addressing voting rights, discrimination, inhumanity, and hypocrisy are just as relevant today as they were a century ago. 
GM: What are you currently reading? 
TB:  I’ve starting reading Barack Obama’s A Promised Land. As I mention in my book, I admire him as a black man in leadership who held the highest position in the nation—I could identify on a smaller scale the issues a black leader has to confront. Obama always handled himself with class and grace regardless of how others treated him. I’m looking forward to reading more about his experiences and how he handled various situations yet maintained his character and dignity.   
GM: Describe a day in your life...
TB: Being in an academic leadership position no day is the same which keeps my work interesting. In general, I start with my 5am morning exercise which prepares me for my workday. My workday will include a series of meetings where we engage in discussion of policies, curriculum, etc. Each day I engage in short-term and long-term planning. 
In addition, no day is complete without one or two issues arising that need to be addressed and resolved. After my workday is completed, I typically like to unwind in the evening watching the news and my favorite show Pardon the Interruption with Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser. 
GM: Besides writing and collecting memories, what do you like to do for fun?
TB: I enjoy playing sports and coaching sports. I like spending time with my family and binge watching shows such as Mandalorian and Squid Games. In addition, I like exploring our local parks and walking trails. As I mentioned previously, I’m a huge fan of the show PTI as I thoroughly enjoy their banter and perspective on sports. I would love to be a guest co-host.   
GM: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
TB: I would like to be a university president. I’m convinced that I could make a positive impact as a university president. Higher education needs someone like myself who understands the struggles of students and has ideas for transforming a campus into a place were students feel connected and supported. 
Connect with Dr. Brown
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