Ask most successful people if a single teacher had had a profound effect on them and you'll undoubtedly receive a resounding "Yes!"
Here's what made Fowler so instrumental in my future success:
1) He brought classroom lectures to life. Whether it was discussing the deadlocked 1876 presidential election between Samuel J. Tilden and Rutherford B. Hayes or the rise of Marat and Robespierre in revolutionary France, Fowler BECAME those protagonists. He literally took on their personas and acted as he believed they had in the heat of the moment. It was spellbinding to say the least.
2) He was entirely accessible and welcomed commentary. So, instead of waiting for questions at the end of a lecture, Fowler would pause, mid sentence, and say something like, "Mr. Cody, is there something about what Samuel Tilden just said that concerns you?"For a shy, introverted student who had never been encouraged to participate in classroom discussion in grammar or high school, Fowler's 'method' provided me with a safety net with which to begin voicing my views in public.
3.) He encouraged and rewarded creativity. For one final exam, he asked us to imagine three great figures from the Civil War getting together and discussing the political scene of the late 1970s. I had a blast creating a two-act play featuring dialogue from Frederick Douglass, Robert E. Lee and Abraham Lincoln positing their views of then President Jimmy Carter's response to the Iran Hostage Crisis. I was thrilled with the A-plus grade I received and still have the little blue exam book in my files.
Fowler's impact on me was enormous. I entered the workforce confident of my views and unafraid to speak up in a Hill & Knowlton conference room crowded with far older, much more seasoned PR professionals.
I don't know a better way to thank Professor Fowler than to dedicate this blog to him. Oh, and by the way, if you have a story about a teacher who made a huge difference in your life, please share it on the Repman blog. It's not a stretch to say that without Fowler, there'd be no Repman (which may, or may not, be a good thing).