Veteran professors look back on societal changes

By Sydni Anderson, Staff writer 

Murray State, like many other universities, has professors that are a part of many different generations. They could be new to the university, or have worked here for over 50 years. The latter is the case with Dr. Helen Roulston. Roulston is 78 years old and arrived in Murray in 1964, when she began teaching part-time. Out of all the professors on campus, she has taught at Murray State the longest. She teaches Critical Reading, Writing, and Inquiry as well as Global Cinema and Special Topics: Disney Films.

Roulston said the students she taught when she first arrived on campus are generally the same, save for some minor differences, as the students she teaches now. “The students’ interest change and their styles change.” Roulston said.

She said one of the main differences between her first years at Murray State and the present is the environment.

“Murray has grown a big deal. The changes keep you young.” Roulston said.

Despite the stereotype that older professors have trouble with technology, Roulston said she stays current.

“We didn’t use computers when we came here, but I have learned various computer programs. I do a lot more online than I used to.” She said she thinks young and tries to keep up with things.

Roulston’s reviews on Rate My Professor are mixed, but she said, “I always get along well with good students.” One review on the site referred to Roulston’s age and read, “she has some wisdom to teach that other younger professors don’t.”

Dr. Michael Kalinski, 73, a professor in exercise science, said he first started teaching in 1969 at the Kiev Institute of Physical Culture and Sport in what was formerly the Soviet Union. Kalinski came to the United States in 1990 and said the technology has changed dramatically since when he first began teaching.

“It was chalk previously. Now it’s Powerpoint and all other technologies.” Kalinski said. To stay up to date, Kalinski said he follows improvements in technology. He said his first interaction with the internet was in 1994 when he attended a conference in New York and listened to someone give a presentation over it. He said the differences between teaching now and then are astonishing.

“Now you have to earn the attention of the students… You have to present in such a way that students become excited and listen,” He said he captures students’ attention because he is passionate about what he teaches.

Kalinski said the lesson he learned throughout his years of teaching is professors need to continuously grow and learn.

“If I think that I know everything I will be proved immediately wrong, Science is not stopping. Science is just accelerating.” He said. “Every professor needs to keep up with science.” He said he tries to transfer this mentality of always being up to date to his students.

By looking back, these older professors have stressed the importance of looking forward.