Veteran professor shares insights ahead of Veterans Day

Liam Corley, a professor of American literature at Cal Poly Pomona is also an active commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve. In his article “Teaching as Leading: Valuing the Veteran in All of Us” Corley explained that his experience as a veteran enhances his ability to be a better teacher.

As he continues in his article, Corley explains the different ways that his experience in the military affects his leadership. He also feels strongly about his role as an influencer of learning for university students.

“I have a deep sense of responsibility toward fostering a responsible government, a strong belief in the power of citizens to make a positive difference in the world. Being a university professor is a tremendous way to influence the next generation of citizens.”

Courtesy of Liam Corley

For Corley, Nov. 11 is more than just a day off of school. His experience in the military makes the way he sees Veterans Day personal and in his academic pursuits he continues to explore the theme of veterans in literature.

“I think Veterans Day is an opportunity as a whole to consider the consequences of war, to be grateful for those who have responded to the nation’s call to fight in and be ready for those wars,” said Corley. “By doing so, it’s an opportunity for the country as a whole to join veterans in dealing with the burdens of that war.”

Corley attributes his military career and his longstanding values to his family life. His father was a U.S. Marine helicopter pilot who served for multiple tours in Vietnam for a total of 13 years. Corley spent much of his childhood moving around between military bases.

Although Corley received a Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship from University of California, Berkeley, he declined it to focus on his degree in rhetoric. Corley did not circle back to the military until he was in his 30s.

“After 9/11, a lot of people were thinking about military service,” said Corley speaking about his decision to join the U.S. Navy Reserve with a sense of in societal responsibility. “Military service is something that the whole country needs to take responsibility for. There is no way to stand apart, morally speaking, from what your society is involved in.”

Corley exemplifies a strong work ethic in his diverse past, with such experiences as becoming a professor of literature at CPP in 2005, publishing numerous academic articles and poetry, and serving as a commanding officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, where he was deployed in Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009.

In his publication, “An Academic in Afghanistan,” from the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2009, Corley shared a day in the life of serving abroad. Like with much of his writing, the topic revolves around his experience in the military and what that experience means to him.

He wrote, “I sit at a desk with four computers. I have a name tent on top of my monitor with my title and a call sign: CASSANDRA. More people get it than you might expect. I’m an analyst. I work with smart people.”

Corley received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities for his work on veterans in American Literature.

This fellowship granted him the opportunity to attend to the 2016 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute where he researched veterans for three weeks with other scholars. He continues to pursue the humanities in support of veterans with his in-progress book series, the first of which is called “Changelings: Insurrection.”

Whenever he has the opportunity, Liam Corley likes to share the advice he was given by his doctoral Dissertation Director, Emory Elliott, at the University of California, Riverside.

Corley said, “Do the work. No matter what stage of life or field of endeavor someone is in, they’ll progress by doing the work more than they will by fretting about it.”

(Feature image courtesy of Courtesy of Liam Corley) 

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