Since I have been a faculty member at New England College since I came here directly out of graduate school (Syracuse University, 1966-1969) in 1969, I take great pleasure in welcoming you to our Office of Academic Affairs and in introducing myself to you.
I never would have believed that my tenure at New England College would have lasted so many years, but I am very glad that it has for I have truly loved teaching and working with student, faculty, and staff colleagues at this academy of higher learning. As a graduate student I loved hanging out at the library and doing research. When I came to New England College, I fell in love with teaching. Actually, when I was 18 and a freshman in college (1958), I fell in love with both 18-year-olds and college, and I had to figure out a way of remaining a student in college forever. Some wishes and dreams do come true.
In my career here, I’ve taught a wide variety of literature and general education courses, including modern American poetry, Shakespeare, African-American literature, Native American literature, language and grammar, Henry James, Faulkner, Conrad, the Romantics, poetry workshops, and many other courses in both American and English literature. I’ve also been very involved in college governance, mostly serving on the Curriculum Committee and the Faculty Development Committee, but also on many search committees and many ad hoc committees dealing with vital college issues. From 1977 to 1979, I served as Director of the British Campus in Arundel, Sussex. Back in 1971-72, I edited the first two issues of The Henniker Review, which still exists as a student review.
Besides loving to read, to teach, and to write (I belong to a group called The Stone Bridge Poetry Project, last year I wrote a play adaptation of Sherwood Anderson’s great novel Winesburg, Ohio, which was produced in our Open Door Theatre, and this year I’m dramaturge for the Open Door production of Much Ado about Nothing), I love traveling—a particular form of traveling.
I’d always been interested in motorcycles, but it wasn’t until I came here to teach that I encountered bikers—who were colleagues on the faculty and also students. So, throughout the 70s and 80s I did a couple of major trips and a lot of local riding (northern New England’s a good place for that). But here’s the thing: for my 50th birthday (1990), I bought myself a Harley and with a colleague biker did a 20,000-mile tour of every state and province on or west of the Continental Divide, including Alaska—camping out all the way. Since then, I’ve done three additional western trips and umpteen trips down south. This may sound like an odd thing for an English professor to do but, truthfully, all this traveling and camping has actually enhanced my teaching, and my teaching and reading have enhanced my travels.
As we say at the college and on the road, “It’s not the destination; it’s the journey.”
Don Melander spent his recent sabbatical writing seven plays. In the spring of 2006, he and theatre professor Glenn Stuart, worked on a collaborative project to transform Dylan Thomas’ novel, Under Milkwood, into a play. As the dramaturgist, Melander spent the spring writing the script for a first reading in June and attended each of the rehearsals prior to the July performance schedule. His next collaborative project with the Theatre Department was a sequel to Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, and again served as the dramaturgist. Professor Melander is a frequent contributor to a variety of literary publications and was a founding member of the Stone Bridge Poetry Project.