Full Name: Clay A. Morton.
Originally From: Born in Utica, N.Y.; grew up in Gulfport, Miss.; Niceville, Fla.; Aiken, S.C.
Family: Wife, Gail Morton; son, Jacob; cats, Vanderbilt, Bear and Figaro.
Job Title: Associate Professor of English and Director of the Honors Program.
Degrees: Bachelor of arts from the University of South Carolina, master of arts and doctor of philosophy from the University of Georgia. All degrees in English literature.
Year he joined the Macon State faculty: 2006.
Some of his teaching career highlights are … “While at Macon State, I have hit many career milestones, including publishing my first book, but my most rewarding experiences have involved my students. I have seen struggling freshmen blossom into scholars, have helped students get into excellent graduate programs, have taken students to academic conferences where they have presented papers alongside professors, and have even worked with students on publishing their work in peer-reviewed journals."
He enjoys teaching at Macon State College because … "In short, because of the diversity. In one semester, you can teach four classes at Macon State, with no two of them being alike. For one thing, we have students from every kind of background you can imagine, with every learning style you can imagine and every post-college goal you can imagine. Add to that the fact that this isn't a research institution where professors get pigeonholed into teaching only in their own narrow specialization - I have taught basic writing, American literature, classical mythology, the history of print, creative writing, and folklore here. And you get a job where every day is full of surprises."
His favorite course to teach is … “For reasons that will be clear below, any honors class."
One thing people don’t know about Macon State is … “We have one of the finest honors programs in the state. Unlike the programs at many of our peer institutions, we have not lowered our standards for admission or for completing the program. I regularly take our students to state and regional honors conferences where they present their research alongside students from other schools, and Macon State honors students tend to stand out as the cream of the crop. One of the reasons for this is the high degree of enrichment available through our honors classes, including small class sizes, lots of one-on-one interaction with excellent professors, field trips, and opportunities to interact with guest speakers (it is not unusual for students in our honors classes to receive a visit from an author whose work they have studied). But another reason is that they really are great students. A student who chooses the honors track is a student who gets excited about learning, about the world of ideas. To sit around a seminar table with a dozen of these students as they become engrossed in a provocative discussion is as rewarding an experience as any teacher could hope for."
One thing people don’t know about him is … "I fell somewhat short of being an honors student when I was in college (laughs). I did end up graduating with honors since I only had to take English classes the last two years, and I never had trouble earning an A in an English class. I'm pretty incompetent in most other disciplines, however, so in the first two years I did not have a grade point average that would have qualified me for the honors program I now direct. That's not something I particularly regret. It makes me more understanding of students who are having difficulty, and it gives me a keener sense of how to help them."
In his spare time he likes to … “Fall into convulsions of laughter while spending time with my wife and son, the two funniest people on the planet. A typical dinner-table exchange from a few nights ago: Jacob: What's boxing? Me: It's a sport where two people punch each other until one of them is knocked down. Jacob: You have to be kidding. Why would anyone want to do that? Me: Actually, Jake, I have no idea."
The one person he’d most like to meet is … "I have had the privilege of meeting some of the most noted authors of our time, including Kurt Vonnegut, Maya Angelou, James Dickey, Yusef Komunyaka, Richard Wilbur, and many others who are less famous but whose work meant a lot to me personally. If I could add any contemporary author to the list, it would be Thomas Pynchon, a genius and a complete enigma. His work embodies so many qualities I admire: dark humor, existential angst, social consciousness, and unbelievably vast erudition. Because he is so intensely private, it is unheard of for a fan to have occasion to meet him and discuss his work with him, so having that opportunity would be simply amazing."
If he wasn’t a college professor I would be … “An independent scholar with some random day job. I am a compulsive researcher. Intellectual curiosity completely overwhelms me. I can't watch a movie without going online to learn more about something or other related to it. (It's also possible that I would be stalking Thomas Pynchon.)"