Meet a Colleague: Mark Coddington Mark Coddington is an associate professor of journalism.
Q. How long have you worked at W&L?
I’m in my eighth year at W&L – I started in fall 2015.
Q. What courses are you teaching this term?
Intro to News Writing and Intro to Digital Journalism – lots of work on the basics of putting together stories in various media.
Q. What is your favorite course to teach, and why?
Social Media: Principles and Practice is a blast to teach. It’s gratifying to see students think in different ways about a subject that’s so deeply a part of their lives. And their creativity in social media production is so fun to see. I think they surprise themselves with how much they learn, and they always teach me a lot, too.
Q. What is the most satisfying aspect of teaching?
I love seeing students go through the process of picking up a new skill or idea. Being able to be a part of a student learning to do something they simply couldn’t do before – and all the joy and empowerment that goes with that – is such a privilege.
Q. What advice do you have for students (or parents)?
Try to cultivate habits of curiosity. The knowledge you gain in college is fantastic, but developing a relentlessly curious mind is even more important. Try new classes that don’t check a box for graduation. Explore Lexington and Rockbridge County. Seek out faculty and staff to spend more time with. And ask lots and lots of questions.
Q. What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?
I suppose that more than anything, I like to consume information and talk with people about the ideas in it. Books, movies, podcasts, the news – I love taking in new ideas and thinking out loud with people.
Q. Where did you grow up?
I was born in central Wisconsin and moved to rural Nebraska when I was 13.
Q. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a baseball player for a while, but once I realized I was not blessed with even a smidgen of athletic ability or coordination, I pivoted to baseball announcer. I used to mute games on TV (or my sports video games) and provide my own commentary.
Q. Who inspired you to teach? What about them inspired you?
I went to a very tiny, nondescript public high school in rural Nebraska, but we were fortunate to have three fantastic English teachers – Mrs. Wewel, Ms. Apley, and Mrs. Nichols. Their styles varied dramatically, but they were all so passionate about seeing their students grow to understand and love literature and writing, and so good at finding ways to break through to uninterested 15-year-olds.
Q. What is the most adventurous thing that you have ever done?
I once attended a taping of “The Jerry Springer Show.” (For a class assignment!) It was a harrowing experience.
Q. What book are you reading now?
I’m finishing up “Here I Stand,” the classic Martin Luther biography by Roland Bainton. Learning more about the personal and political dimensions of the Reformation has been fascinating.
Q. What is the website you visit most often and why?
I’m convinced Baseball Reference is one of the seven wonders of the modern world. I’m there anytime a random baseball player or stat question pops into my mind, which is often. (Today it was Joey Votto’s year-by-year on-base percentage.)
Q. If you could live anywhere, where would you build your dream home?
Actually, Lexington would be a pretty good choice, if I could have all my family and friends close by.
Q. Your favorite film (movie) of all time?
If I could count all three of them as one movie, I’d take The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Q. What is your desert island food?
Chicago-style deep-dish pizza from Giordano’s or Lou Malnati’s.
Q. Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
My wife Dana and I met as counselors at a tiny summer camp in Nebraska. My students are always shocked when I tell them we were engaged at 21 and married at 22.