“Dr. Jack Cunningham: The Man Who Inspired Me to Become a Professor”
The guy in the photo is called Jack Cunningham. He is 80+ years old now. Dr. Cunningham inspired me and empowered me to become a College Professor. He marked my life through his passion for teaching, his breath of knowledge, and his deep commitment to student learning and the intellectual and spiritual growth of his students. As an undergraduate student, he became the most influential educator in my life and a model of excellence, grace, and piety. I wanted to become a “Model Professor and Educator” like him, and that has been my passion because of his transformative teaching and creative pedagogy.
For my undergraduate degree, I went to a small Liberal Arts Christian College in Panhandle Florida. Professor Cunningham was my Education and Leadership Professor. I may have taken three to four classes with him. He was a Master Teacher, absolutely a passionate and energetic one. What I observed the most about him was his humanity, incomparable hospitality, profound interest in students, and his non-negotiable promotion of the dignity of all people, especially that of his “Black and minority students.” There were just a few of us on campus.
He started to call me “Professor Lou” (I believe he was the one who gave me the nickname) in the very first class I took with him. He gave me books to read, pushed me to go to Graduate school, and mentored me throughout my undergraduate years. He was the first one to have written a letter of recommendation when I applied for the Masters degree in Philosophy at the University of South Florida (USF), and he also wrote a splendid letter of recommendation for me to pursue my Master of Divinity and another brilliant one for my M.A. at the University of Louisville. He had great expectations of me and taught me with great patience how to think cogently, write clearly, and how to cultivate the life of the mind and the life of faith.
I miss him very much and wish to visit him soon.