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Sid Homan marks 42 years as teacher, scholar, father figure

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After 42 years at the University of Florida, English professor Sid Homan has no plans to retire.

In recognition of his dedication, scholarly works and contributions to the university and the community, Homan was honored Tuesday as UF’s 2013-2014 Teacher/Scholar of the Year. The annual award recognizes professors who strive for excellence in teaching and scholarly research. It is the highest faculty honor at UF.

Homan said he probably should have retired about 10 years ago, but he “loves coming in and being here every day with [young] people.”

As a member of the Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars, Homan said a link must be forged between teaching and scholarship.

“A university should not exist solely for research, but in many cases good teaching is informed by what you research. It ought to be,” he said.

Homan’s research and work focus on plays, ranging from Shakespeare to modern playwrights.

He has been working in the theater since he was 5, but his father, who installed telephones for a living, wanted his son to follow in his footsteps, even well into Homan’s teaching career.

“I’ve always felt a little guilty not being so practical, but one of the things the award does for me is it shows the work I’m doing is practical: The practical stuff is in the classroom. That’s where the payoff is.”

Now 75, he said he is honored to accept the award.

Homan said he’s had offers at other universities, but he never regretted staying at UF and remaining a self-proclaimed father figure to his students. Even at 1 a.m., he is willing to answer his students’ questions.

Paul Richards, a music composition professor and Homan’s colleague and close friend, said he’s known Homan for at least 10 years and looks up to him.

“I’ve never seen him teach, but I’ve met a lot of his students, and they adore him,” Richards said. “I wish my students adored me like that.”

Homan’s award is based on recommendations from faculty members and academic deans. UF President Bernie Machen, Provost Joe Glover, and the Academic Advisory Committee chose Homan as this year’s recipient.

English department Chair Kenneth Kidd nominated him.

Kidd said Homan is generous with his time and always willing to help, which he said is not true of everybody. Homan’s upbeat nature comes across to almost everyone he meets, he said.

“This is not someone who just teaches Shakespeare and then occasionally puts on a Shakespeare play,” Kidd said. “You really see the interplay of scholarship and teaching.”

As the Teacher/Scholar of the Year, Homan will represent the university as a nominee for the SEC Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award. He also received $6,000 and will speak to alumni and faculty throughout the following year.

But Homan thinks compensation is unnecessary for what he does. When he first started working at UF, he had to be constantly reminded to pick up his paycheck every two weeks.

“The idea of getting paid for what I do?” Homan said. “It still blows my mind.”

-          By Rachel Kurland

 

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