Scott slipped into the back of the classroom and put his flatbread chicken sandwich down on the desk. Having been in master’s program courses with Dodd he knew that the actual students would be expected to sit at the front, but it wouldn’t be unusual for other professors, PhD candidates or keynote speakers visiting campus to slip into the back of the class. When he’d been a Master’s student he’d ended up meeting a pastor with a national following, the Secretary of the Interior, and a well-known film director.
Dodd taught two masters courses. This one was about the concept of a “Christian Land Ethic” since it was, at least officially a Christian university. That was the course that had attracted a Secretary of the Interior and Rev. Williams. The other was the far more entertaining “Disaster in Popular Entertainment” course that looked at the mistakes film characters made in stressful situations. It was more popularly known as the “When Shit Goes Wrong” course, due to Dodd having used that phrase when discussing ‘Grizzly Man’ the first time the course was offered
Dodd had done a lot of stuff over the years before he’d come into the university world. He’d been a forest ranger, he’d saved a president’s life, canoed from the upper reaches of the Yampa to where the Colorado became a trickle south of Yuma. In fact, that kind of life was what had gotten Steve Tower to campus the year he’d won an Oscar, hoping that Dodd would sell the rights to his memoirs.
Tower had become one of the sponsors of Scotts trip from Easton to New Orleans, and Reverend Williams had visited him in New Orleans and asked his physical and TV flocks to pray for Scott. Secretary Hayes still corresponded with Scott, and he supposed that there was an office in Washington after graduation if he was interested.
There apparently weren’t any special visitors back here for this session, in fact there weren’t any professors back here at all, although it early in the month so various committees would be meeting for departments.
As the class wrapped up and some of the students came back to speak with him it occurred to Scott that perhaps he’d morphed into the role of “interesting people” somehow. He knew some of them from around campus, one had been in a section he’d TA’d for when clearing out a transfer’s need for gen ed requirements. Another had written an interesting senior thesis paper that Scott had somehow ended up looking over last spring (he couldn’t quite remember the circumstances but thought the fact that the students surname was Shiner might have something to do with it. And to do with that keg that had lasted all summer).
And then there was Ms. Philips. She’d had adventures too. Much like Dodd and Scott, she’d worked for federal land management agencies before returning for a Master’s degree, doing the seasonal back country ranger ‘thing’, and living out of a truck in the winter from Florida to Texas to 29 Palms to North Dakota one particularly interesting winter.
Her research looked at “The impact of Tourism Ministries on Native Communities”, in other words what did Anglos visiting the Rez on a religious based trip actually do for Natives.