A day in the life of an SU professor
From teaching classes to serving as the technical director and production manager for his department, professor Michael Desper’s days are quite busy, and his schedule is always changing, especially depending on the time of year.
Desper normally begins his day by waking up and heading to Salisbury University soon after.
“I’m a theater person, which means I’m not a morning person, so I tend to wake up pretty much as late as I can get away with and get here [at Salisbury University] right on time,” Desper said.
Once he gets to the university, his schedule depends on the day. On Tuesdays, he must be at the university by 8 a.m. for an independent study. On Thursdays, he arrives on time for an 8:30 a.m. production meeting. However, without these two events, he is able to show up a bit later, in time for his first class.
“On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I teach an advanced technical production class … That’s my 9:30 a.m. class, and so I tend to get here at 9ish or 9:15 a.m.,” Desper said.
After his 9:30 a.m. class, Desper teaches another class that begins at 11 a.m. This semester, his class is held in the Teacher Education and Technology Center, so he usually returns back to Fulton Hall around 12:15 p.m.
“My 11 o’clock class is kind of the bread and butter class of mine. It’s the tech production, which is the stage craft class here. I teach this class every semester. Spring semester, I usually only teach one section of it, and fall semester, I’ve been teaching two,” Desper said.
Once he is finished teaching his classes, his job switches from that of being a professor to that of managing aspects within the theater.
“That’s kind of the academic side of my job, the other half of my job … is being the technical director and production manager of the department, which includes essentially running the shop. I do have a full-time assistant that helps with that,” Desper said.
Desper’s afternoons consist of running the shop as different workers come and go.
“Yesterday, I had twelve people who all showed up between 12 and 1 p.m., and they all worked until 3, 4 and 5 o’clock in the afternoon, so the shop is open for workers from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m.,” Desper said.
The workers who come and go during this period of time include both paid workers and students.
“It’s a combination. It’s the tech production students doing studio hours, which they register for. We also have students who do theater practicums in various disciplines, some of which I am in charge of … And then we have five seam shop staff members,” Desper said.
Once Desper is finished in the shop, usually around 5 or 6 p.m., he leaves the university. However, his day is not over yet. Desper either spends time gathering supplies for the next day or heads home for dinner with his wife and then spends the rest of the evening designing things that need to be built in the shop.
“My evenings are often spent either doing drawings for the shop people to build in the afternoons or shopping because somebody has to go and buy lumber for things,” Desper said.
As the production that Desper is working on becomes closer, his schedule only gets busier. Some nights, he is at the university until as late as 11 p.m.
“It is not a 9 to 5 job, or hardly ever is, and then when we get to the actual production, the tech rehearsals usually run until 11 p.m. every night, so those days are 8 o’clock in the morning for an independent study, through the day, workers until 5 p.m., and then try to frantically get things ready for a rehearsal that starts at 7 p.m. and runs until 11 p.m. That repeats for about a week and a half,” Desper said.
Despite Desper’s busy schedule, the payoff of being able to both teach students and work as a technical director and production manager for the theater here at Salisbury University is worth it. The next time you go to see a theater production, think of the busy schedule of those behind it.
By LAURA AMRHIEN
Featured photo from Laura Amrhein.