(Nov. 6, 2008)
Lunch at MJ, a guitar gig in the union and on the laptop in the library – sounds like an average student’s day, but for English professor Tom Greenfield, that’s life.
“I’m basically in my senior year of college for my 38th year,” said Greenfield, who grew up in New York City and attended Grinnell College in Iowa for his bachelor’s degree in English. He pursued graduate school at the University of Minnesota and specializes in dramatic literature.
Before coming to Geneseo in 1991 as dean of the college, Greenfield began his career at Virginia Union University in Richmond, Va. and spent seven years as the dean of arts and sciences at Bellarmine College in Louisville, Ky.
After a few curriculum reviews at Geneseo, Greenfield felt he had “played out his bag of tricks,” as dean and stepped down to teach English, humanities, INTD 105 and the occasional guitar lesson.
Greenfield is well known for his amusing musical compositions and plays both guitar and banjo.
“I’m not a very prolific writer, but I’m old so I have a lot of songs,” he said modestly.
Greenfield said that he writes around five songs per year – some are good and “some need to be taken out in the backyard and shot.”
Years ago, Greenfield arranged his songs into syllabus form to compose “English 170: The Musical,” in honor of the introductory practice of criticism course. Greenfield describes this venture as “nonsensical and appealingly pointless,” but it has been a major hit with students.
He will perform his solo act for the second time tonight in the KnightSpot at 8 p.m. as a fundraiser for the English Club and Sigma Tau Delta, for which Greenfield is advisor.
The closing act of the musical is “I Really Hated Your Class,” and although it references a threat of slander on Ratemyprofessors.com, Greenfield is one of the most highly rated professors in Geneseo, receiving a hotness total of eight.
Outside of his teaching fame, Greenfield enjoys playing “slow old guy tennis” and is a married father of two. His son is a senior at the University of Buffalo where he majors in psychology and pre-medical studies and his daughter is currently working on “The Hills.”
Greenfield’s daughter has worked with other reality shows and will be part of the upcoming “Hills” spin-off, “The City.” Through his daughter’s shows, Greenfield has attained what he described as an “appallingly inappropriate amount of knowledge of reality TV,” adding that he “tries to follow psychology and pre-med,” but doesn’t pick it up as quickly.
In his office sitting beneath the latest “Hills” DVDs are Greenfield’s two published books, “Radio: A Reference Guide” and “Ethics in American Drama, 1920-1970.” He is currently contracted to write an encyclopedia of Broadway and American culture, and is facing the excitement and frustration of such a large project.
“There is something nice about stretching yourself,” said Greenfield. “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and probably ever will do.”
Beyond his warm personality and quirky hobbies, Greenfield made significant strides for Geneseo, one of which is his work as dean of the college to build a study abroad program that lived up to the reputation of the college. He was an integral part of implementing the Humanities abroad.
Next semester, Greenfield will teach Modern Drama as well as Humanities I and II. He hopes to “herd another group” abroad to Oxford or Ireland in a few years.