EHE professor, alumnus keeps students laughing, learning life lessons
When Gene Folden, ’87 PhD, was in third grade, his teacher asked what he wanted to be. “A comedian and a minister,” he responded. Now the associate chair of the Department of Human Sciences and a Methodist minister, he keeps his students laughing while teaching them valuable life lessons.
Q: You’ve taught human development and family science for 30 years.
A: I love being in the classroom with students talking about a topic, getting their ideas, and that moment when you see in their eyes that something has changed. The idea just suddenly makes more sense to them. It’s watching that moment, that epiphany, in people that keeps me going back to the classroom. Plus, I firmly believe in lifelong learning and really want to be a part of students’ journeys to learn throughout their lives.
Q: Do you ever hear from former students?
A: Quite a few students stay in touch with me. I relish knowing what they are doing now and how what they are doing builds on concepts they learned. Not just in their professional lives, but in how they raise their children or how they approach marriage or midlife. It’s something I find absolutely amazing.
Q: Did your mentors affect your teaching style?
A: When I think of mentoring, I think of how my mentors shaped my ability to think beyond the moment. Don’t just take this exam to get an A. Think about how this material you’re being tested on will impact tomorrow or the next day or the next degree. They really helped me look beyond the moment and really see what I was doing as helpful to me and beneficial to my future. I try to do that as well.