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Department of Communication
logoChris Lamb
Chris Lamb: Tireless Teacher, Writer, Parent
By Nathan Needle

"A professor, doctor of communication, father and husband, Chris Lamb starts his day "Between 5:30 and 6, eats breakfast, rides [his] bicycle four miles to the bus, rides the bus 14 miles downtown, then reverse the process at the end of the day." Lamb is in constant motion.

For a refresher, Dr. Chris Lamb was born on May 15, 1958, in Dayton, Ohio. He is the son of Robert and Jeanne Lamb and grew up in a middle-class suburb outside of Dayton. His life seemed to revolve around baseball season. According to a previous interview done by Joshua Perry in 2005, "[Lamb] remembers begging his father to take him to games in Cincinnati to catch a Reds double-header, and usually listened to most of the Reds' games on a transistor radio."

When Lamb was younger, he never had aspired to be a teacher, nor did he see himself teaching at the college level. As Lamb states, "I had absolutely no interest in teaching [communication] until I starting doing it."

According to Perry's previous interview with Lamb, "Most people enter the teaching field because they had good teachers as role models. I didn't have that until my junior year at University of Tennessee," he said.

Lamb, a 1980 graduate of University of Tennessee, was released out into the job market with a bachelor of science degree in broadcasting. After college he worked as a reporter for a Knoxville, Tenn. radio station but he says his heart wasn't in the broadcasting part of his communication degree and he didn't stick with it for long. According to Lamb: "I wasn’t particularly good at it. Working in broadcasting did, however, help my writing because it helped me develop a good ear for words."

He would work at newspapers including the daily in Daytona Beach, Fla. where he was a columnist and reporter. Lamb would also strenghten his academic credentials by earning a master's degree in communication at the University of Tennessee and his Ph.D. in mass communications from Bowling Green State University.

Before coming to the College of Charleston, he taught in Virginia at Old Dominion University.

The question for a non-Charlestonian: "Why Charleston?" Lamb answers: "Twelve years ago, I could've taken a job in Charleston or in Scranton, Pennsylvania I hope I made the right choice. I still have friends in the cities I've lived. But I don't spend any time wishing I was somewhere else."

Though Lamb doesn't think much of being anywhere else but Charleston, he has a sabbatical coming in 2011, and in the plans is an England trip with his family. Or, as Lambs quips, "Maybe to somewhere even more exotic, like Moncks Corner. We haven't quite worked out the details yet."

When questioned about after-teaching plans, Lamb remarks that he doesn't spend a lot of time thinking of the future. Lamb seems to be a more a one-day-at-a- time kind of guy whose ideal day isn't planned out, but one that just happens. As Lamb says: "The best days come as surprises. When such days begin, you rarely think, 'This is going to be an ideal day.' You can't plan for them. They just happen."

As for some words of wisdom to graduates looking for a teaching job after graduation, Lamb is first off glad he has a job, but also doesn't discourage trying to join the teaching field. Lamb though, suggests, "Get some life experience first. Join the Peace Corps. Live somewhere else. Hang around people who aren't like you. Ride the bus or sit in coffee shops and watch peoplep-without musical accompaniment."

Maybe even get some other job experience first. As for Lamb, he knows about this. He has held jobs from mowing lawns, working at a tennis court, driving a cab, selling shoes and as a motel worker before he began his teaching career. He has always been a writer and over the years had written several books and has contributed articles to several magazines and newspapers such as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, St. Petersburg Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, Christian Science Monitor, Philadelphia Inquirer, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated.

Lamb doesn't see himself teaching forever, but is glad that he has a job now, considering the status of the market. He is a lively teacher, cracking jokes and murmuring witty communication-related remarks.

To all of his classes, Lamb makes sure to ask the students if they know what a person who doesn't have a cell phone looks like. Unless you've had him before you might think of a caveman, but Lamb is quick to respond, "You're looking at one."
Despite being a communication teacher doesn't own a cell phone. To him, it seems practical, to others like students, the notion is foreign. When asked if not having a cell phone situation is stressful, Lamb said: "I'm pretty neurotic so stress is a constant companion. It would be more stressful if I had a cell phone. If people get annoyed, I'm not aware of it. In fact, people usually say they wish they didn't need a cell phone. For millions of years, people didn't need cell phones. People rarely express any negative opinion when they hear I don't have a cell phone. They often look at me weirdly, as if I'm telling them I get from one place to another on a horse and buggy."

Lamb teaches such courses as Writing for the Feature Writing, Mass Media , Opinion Writing, and Mass Media and Society. He also teaches special topics classes Magazine Writing; Myth, Baseball and the Meaning of Life; and the Editorial Cartoon in America.

Since Lamb's previous Focus on the Faculty article in 2005, he has be involved in many lectures, written editorial columns for the local papers, like The Post and Courier, and has also written three more books. His third book, "Wry Harvest: An Anthology of Midwest Humor," was published in September 2006 by Indiana University Press. His fourth book, "I'll Be Sober: Great Comebacks, Putdowns and Ripostes," was published in 2007 by Frontline Press. He is finishing his fifth book, "Conspiracy of Silence: Sportswriters and the Campaign to Integrate Baseball, 1933-1945." He has also written a book about the pioneering baseball player Jackie Robinson.

Writing is one of Lambs most consuming passions, and he says he seems to write better on campus in his office, so he find himself having to take his lecture planning and grading home.

Lamb actually says that he finds himself quite boring outside of teaching and writing. Teaching can become a 24/7 job for Lamb, but only if you make it one. Lamb says, "If all I had to do was teach, I could separate [work and family] and leave work at work and family at home, but this is unavoidable."

Lamb's home life consists of his wife Lesly, son David, who is 8, and their prized dog, Marvin. While at home, he also writes to the newspapers but is glad that he doesn't work for them fully; being a correspondent satisfies him enough. "I'd like to write newspaper columns more often," he says. "But I'm trying to finish a book, and I have other book projects ahead. There's only so much time in the day."

Again, the reccurring theme in Lamb's life: he is in constant motion and often runs out of time to conquer it all.