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Excellence in Teaching

Dr. Scott Yarbrough

csuDr. Scott Yarbrough grew up in Perry, Florida, in the northern part of the state, the eldest of three boys. He was graduated from Florida State University twice, first in 1987, with a bachelor of arts in English and minor in education, and again in 1990, with a master of arts in English-Creative Writing. As a break from school, he took a job in state government, working for the Department of Professional Regulation in Tallahassee until 1992. Then for his doctoral studies, he turned to the University of Alabama, where he completed his PhD. in English, specializing in the novel, American literature, and Southern literature and writing his dissertation on William Faulkner. He taught at Alabama for a year as an instructor before coming to Charleston Southern. 

When asked why he chose Charleston Southern, he says after a dozen years as a student and instructor at big state schools, he was tired of them. He was ready to change to a small liberal arts school; the Christian environment also contributed to his choice. 

Dr. Yarbrough was meant to be an English professor. He has always loved reading and writing. When he was six, he would redraw and rewrite comic books to include himself and his brothers. By fifteen, he was sending short stories to national magazines, hoping for publication. Initially, he decided on graduate studies to help his writing career, but as a teaching assistant, he discovered the joy of teaching and "absolutely loved" it. His vocation as college professor allows him to indulge in his avocations: reading, writing, and teaching. It also put him into a position to meet his wife, Leigh, who works in the textbook industry. 

Dr. Yarbrough's classes are lively. He doesn't believe in letting students "volunteer" during discussions; he calls on students by name for their ideas and opinions. He says his method "can be dismaying to the unprepared students, but helpful to the shyer students who are slow to raise hands or jump into class discussion." His intent is not to intimidate but to encourage, person to person, not as lofty professor to ignorant student. He says it hasn't been that long since he was in the same situation as his students. He adds, "I love teaching English at the college level, and I think many of them can sense this. Of course, I still reserve the right to tease them about bad taste in music, books, movies and haircuts." 

The Excellence in Teaching Award is not the first time Dr. Yarbrough has been recognized at CSU. In 1997, he received the Faculty Merit Award. When asked who influenced him most in his teaching, he cites mentors from high school through graduate school. In particular, his creative writing professors at Florida StateDr. Ralph Berry, a fiction writer, and Dr. David Kirby, a poetshowed him that scholarly writers can also be creative writers: "Both had such an amazing enthusiasm for language and literature that it couldn't help but rub off." He also credits Dr. Diane Roberts and Dr. Don Noble at Alabama. 

Dr. Yarbrough's students know that he loves teaching literature, film, and creative writing. What they may not know is that he's also had some success in publishing fiction and poetry. When he's not writing, he likes to be outdoors-- mountain biking, fishing, hiking, or just taking his Golden Retriever, Sadie, for a walk. He says, "I listen to music of every variety and read books of every variety to such a degree that some think it makes me a nuisance. " Don't get him started on college football.