Professor leaving journalism for priesthood
The Auburn Plainsman, By Rob Huffman, Staff Writer
June 19, 2003
Michael Glenn Rich, 41, one of Auburn University's assistant professors in journalism, is preparing for retirement.
But then again, maybe he's not retiring at all.
"Retiring means you're not working anymore," Rich said.
It's true, Rich will in no way quit working. He is simply going to start work on a new job.
He is about to begin preparation to become a priest.
"I'm going to go to seminary, where I'll study for three years," Rich said. "After that, the intention is to lead to ordination at the Priesthood Episcopal Church."
Rich will be going to the General Theological Seminary in New York City after he moves from Auburn in August.
Rich graduated from Northwestern University in 1984 with a degree in journalism and earned his master's degree there in 1985.
He came to Auburn in the fall of 1999.
Previously he had taught two academic years at Auburn in 1990 and 1991 as a visiting professor.
"I've taught more than five years here, but not all at one stretch," he said.
Rich has also worked as a teaching assistant at the University of Iowa for one year.
Between Rich's teaching stints at Auburn, he also went to graduate school at the University of Iowa
"I also spent a lot of time working at The Huntsville Times, where I was feature editor and a few other things," Rich said.
In addition to The Huntsville Times, Rich has also worked for a number of other papers, including The Birmingham News and The Macon (Ga.) News.
Rich held many positions at the various papers he worked for, from copy editor to editorial page writer to international editor at The Daily Journal in Caracas, Venezuela.
While at Auburn, Rich has taught newspaper fundamentals, journalism history, feature writing, reporting, editing, beginning newswriting and a graduate course on international mass communication.
Casey Carpenter, a senior in public relations had Rich as her newspaper fundamentals instructor a few semesters ago.
"He was very enthusiastic," Carpenter said. "He was one of my better teachers and was always approachable."
Carpenter also added that Rich was knowledgeable about journalism in general.
Rich commented that one of the main things he will miss about Auburn is the people who have been a part of his life.
"People I've worked with, students that I know -- working with these people is by far the most rewarding thing about teaching at Auburn," Rich said.
"I have enjoyed the collegial setting of working with the people in this department."
Rich said journalism has been a large part of his life to this point, but he feels he is making the right decision by leaving.
"I've enjoyed what I've been doing, and it has been the right thing for me, and I love it, and I'm not leaving it because I dislike it," Rich said.
Nan Fairley, a member of the journalism faculty and one of Rich's closest friends, said she is saddened by Rich's upcoming departure.
"It's hard to comment about him -- I would need a long time," Fairley said. "He's been like a brother in the four years that I have known him."
Fairley believes that Rich's time at Auburn has been a success, but now he's ready to move on.
"Ministry is his calling," she said. "He'll be going from the podium to the pulpit."
Despite having to leave behind friends and loved ones, Rich is steadfast in his decision to become a priest.
"I've literally been in the process of -- that is, dealing with the church, working towards this -- for more than three years," Rich said.
Rich's commitment to becoming a priest is solid and real.
While in Auburn, Rich has been the faculty adviser at the Society of Professional Journalists, the faculty adviser and worship coordinator at St. Dunstan's Episcopal Student Center, and was volunteer at the Hospice of East Alabama Medical Center.
Rich touched many students' lives at Auburn, but his future in the priesthood looks to touch even more.