40-year teachers make, teach history

By Megan Ake


Four decades.  Nearly half a century.  No matter how it’s written, 40 years is a long time.  However, two Madonna professors don’t seem to think so. 

History teachers Dennis Bozyk
(left) and Rand Hoyer
can now count 2010 as their 40th year in the profession, and they recently celebrated that achievement.

The pair arrived at Madonna in the fall of 1970 to teach history at what was then an all-female school run by a group of Felician sisters.  Enrollment was roughly 800 back then, and Bozyk and Hoyer were part of the small faculty who helped to shape what Madonna is today.

Bozyk points to the Felician sisters as inspiration in those early years.

“They approached work as a vocation instead of just a job,” he said.  “It changed my whole view of professional life.”

Both professors were present as the university opened its door to male students in 1972, and through the years, the continued growth of Madonna allowed them to explore new, yet familiar avenues as well. 

“I’ve been able to teach more [of my] specialties as we’ve grown,” said Hoyer, who likes to concentrate his historical studies on American history and the Civil War.

In addition to the ability to focus on particular disciplines with the department, Bozyk also attributes his professional development to the size of Madonna.

“It’s large enough for professional work, but small enough to work with all staff and faculty,” he said.

Though expanding their instructional careers was and still is an important facet of their careers, both Bozyk and Hoyer took on other roles within the department over the decades.  Bozyk chaired the department of Social Sciences and advised pre-law students, while Hoyer served as a dean and department chair throughout his tenure.

After fulfilling such administrative positions, Bozyk and Hoyer ultimately decided to return to the classroom as teachers.

“I like what I’m doing,” said Hoyer.

Bozyk adds that he “really loves the classroom.”

And that classroom as certainly changed in 40 years, particularly due to the way technology has continued to creep into the learning process.  Bozyk and Hoyer recognize that change, but both feel that there is a certain extent to which technology can and should be used. 

Hoyer maintains that the library is “our laboratory for learning” and encourages students to critique what they read.  Bozyk, too, recognizes the benefits of technology but wants to keep some things face to face.

“It’s important to maximize the possibilities of technology but keep a human dimension to it, too,” he said.

Despite a changing classroom and 40 years of experience under their belts, neither teacher has plans to retire any time soon, and they both point to the atmosphere of Madonna and the familial nature of their colleagues as reasons for staying on.

“Colleagues are a big part of it all,” Bozyk said.  “They’re a very nice group of people, positive and full of praise.”

“I like working with people of all ages,” Hoyer said.  “People are essentially good.”

Bozyk and Hoyer were honored with certificates at Madonna’s recent Founders’ Day celebration.