Story by Sabra Jackson, Staff writer
After 28 years, Roger Weis, professor of nonprofit leadership studies, is retiring from Murray State and is celebrating by publishing his 14th book.
Weis has published 11 textbooks and three poetry books thus far. After writing his doctoral dissertation, he said he thought he would never write again but decided to take up writing textbooks for nonprofit sectors.
Weis worked as CEO of the Leukemia Society of America for the state of Virginia, spent 10 years with the Boys and Girls Club and served three years in the Vietnam War as a reporter before coming to Murray State. Weis was in Vietnam 18 months of those three years.
Weis started writing when he was 14. He wrote poetry and was published in his school’s poetry journal. He then went on to high school as a sports editor.
After finishing his doctoral studies at the University of Kentucky, he said he realized the schools needed new books in the nonprofit sector and wrote his first textbook in 1996. He was asked by publishers to continue writing textbooks, and with their encouragement, he did.
Weis said his creative mind is what drives his passion to write. His poetry books are based upon the ocean and emotion.
He also credits the war for his passion in nonprofit. He worked as a community liaison with an orphanage and a hospital during the war.
“I went over there [Vietnam], and I saw extreme poverty and deplorable living conditions,” Weis said. “People would actually cook on the side of the road along with their bathroom trench. It was such a culture shock.”
Weis said one of his greatest achievements includes his students winning 40 local awards in academics, leadership, service and research.
Weis said the nonprofit program had nine people enrolled when he first started and now has close to 600. His time at Murray State helped make the program the largest at Murray State for 25 years.
“You teach a class, your students do the project that goes along with the class, and they return and realize how much difference they make in the lives of someone else,” Weis said. “The memories of watching students go out and take what you presented to them and use it to make a difference in other people’s lives and pretty much know they are going to keep doing that the rest of their lives.”
Robin Esau, lecturer of nonprofit leadership studies, has worked with Weis for the last ten years and said Weis has put a lot of work into the program.
“He’s really enjoyed seeing students get involved with the community and then just embrace that experience and grow to love the nonprofit sector,” Esau said.
Esau said West Kentucky Mentoring, formerly known as Big Brothers Big Sisters, was established in Calloway County because of a student who took a class Weis taught.
“Students have really enjoyed knowing that he really supports their work in the community and helping them find their passion in life,” Esau said.
Malley Johnson, junior from Cunningham, Kentucky, said Weis has been her adviser and professor for the last two years and has encouraged her throughout her college career to pursue what she wants to do.
“I’ve really just appreciated his guidance and his encouragement,” Johnson said. “It’s been a pleasure to learn under his teaching.”
“Marissa’s Secret” is Weis’s newest writing piece, which he says you can either read or wait for the movie.