Bill Chappell Named Dean of College of Arts and Letters

After three years of serving as acting dean of Columbus State University's College of Arts and Letters, Bill Chappell has officially been named dean.

CSU Academic Affairs Vice President Martha Saunders made the announcement to the Faculty Senate after receiving unanimous support for the proposal from the college's department chairs.

'Dr. Chappell is a seasoned administrator and well supported by the faculty of a diverse college,' Saunders said. He will play an instrumental role in expanding the university's art and theater programs, and increasing greater visibility of distinguished programs in the college.'

Chappell' s journey to the dean's office has been a story-generating collection of experiences from the back roads and farm land of Alabama to Vietnam and back.

Chappell was raised in rural Monroe County, Ala, and made his way to the University of Alabama with a plan to eventually attend law school. It was a big change from his small town. He recalls his freshman year living in the dormitories and when he arrived on campus, he did not realize that the first digit of hisroom number represented the floor the room was on.

Chappell pushed his way through college and obtained his bachelors of arts in political science in 1969. By this time he was 20 years old, married and was a first Lieutenant in the Army, assigned to the Signal Corps. He was sent to Fort Polk, La. to court-martial people accused of military crimes.

Later he was assigned to the 720th Military Police Battalion at Long Binh in Vietnam and assisted in controlling drug problems. 'Heroin was a big problem, people could get it from the village for $3,' said Chappell. He described one encounter, where he assisted a senior noncommissioned officer and a Vietnamese warrant officer: 'The sergeant looks at his watch and says 'When will this be over?' The Vietnamese replied, 'When we drive communists from our homeland.'

Another memorable experience was when Chappell took the LSAT exam in Vietnam, 'Men would lean their M16's against the wall and pick up a No. 2 pencil,' he said.

After returning from the war, Chappell never attended law school. Instead, he returned to the University of Alabama and acquired both his masters and doctorate in political science.

In 1976, he came to Columbus College as a young professor. Because of his age Chappell felt awkward calling students by their first names because many were older than him, so he developed the practice of calling everyone 'Mr.' and 'Ms.' 'The classroom is a place of mutual respect,' said Chappell.

As a professor, Chappell is known for his use of stories to make his point. He believes students identify with stories while being informed and entertained. Another aspect of his practice is listening to his students.

'We may not pay enough attention, you learn a lot from students - I have learned a lot from mine.' Chappell also sees teaching is a form of leading, 'you don't motivate people, people motivate themselves.' He believes that learning is a natural response to curiosity. It is an external and internal search of the individual and their need to continue their growth. Chappell explains, 'After contemplating the question of life I have decided that the object is to know yourself and still like yourself.'

In the three years as acting dean, he has learned a lot about the differences between literature, drama, art, and music. He has tried to expand his knowledge on each subject by attending different events.

'This is an exciting time in the history of CSU and this college,' he said. 'I'm honored to have the confidence of the administration and the great faculty here, and look forward to assisting the College of Arts and Letters grow and evolve.'

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Contact: Bill Chappell, 568-2055; E-mail: chappell_bill@ColumbusState.edu