Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Longtime UA professor, administrator retires

In 1977, Hank Lazer started working at The University of Alabama with the intention of staying for two years. Thirty-seven years later, even after retirement, he said he is not quite ready to end his time at the Capstone.

Lazer, former director of Creative Campus and poet, retired last semester to open up time in his schedule, but he said that he is not planning on disappearing from the University by any means. Rather, he said he feels ready to begin tackling a new chapter in the future.

(See also “Creative Campus to host storytelling event“)

“I also had a feeling that there was another phase of my life to explore, that there was something else waiting for me to do,” Lazer said. “I’m still not sure what that is or will be.”

Aside from teaching in the English department, Lazer helped develop the dance program as assistant dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. While serving as assistant vice president in academic affairs, he worked with admissions to develop approaches to recruitment, such as Capstone Scholars Day, to increase enrollment of out-of-state students. However, Lazer said he feels he made his biggest impact through the development of Creative Campus, serving the organization since its beginning in 2005.

“Creative Campus was the most surprisingly engaging and fulfilling work during my 37 years at UA,” Lazer said. “I got to know the student-interns better than had been possible in the classroom setting, and I believe that I had more impact on their lives – career aspirations, grad school, thinking processes – than had been the case in the more traditional role of faculty member.”

Connor Fox, a junior and second-year intern for Creative Campus, praised Lazer’s knowledge and ability to help one see and think differently.

“Dr. Lazer has an endless amount of wisdom and is enjoyably unpredictable at times,” Fox said. “He empowers you to think differently and not only appreciate differences, but learn from them. The experience of working with him is unforgettable and enriching.”

Fox was able to work closely with Lazer on an event last year that brought jazz legend Doc Adams to the University.

“This was a memorable opportunity to work under the guidance of Dr. Lazer and learn from his valuable perspective, in addition to sharing an appreciation for jazz music,” Fox said.

(See also “Trombonist melds art, jazz in music“)

Andrew Dewar, co-director of Creative Campus, has also worked closely with Lazer on various projects since 2008, even performing together in Havana, Cuba, this January.

“Currently, we are exploring the intersections between music and poetry through an improvisational duo project featuring myself on the soprano saxophone and Dr. Lazer reading his experimental shape poems,” Dewar said. “It has been a very productive and new direction for us both, as well as a fun way to experiment with ideas in sound, rhythm and form.”

In the meantime, Lazer is currently serving as an adjunct faculty member in the Honors College, teaching a graduate seminar in English and advising a doctoral student in English. Recruitment work is also on the agenda for Lazer, as well as writing and traveling. The poet’s eighteenth book is planned to be published this year.

(See also “Class offers pre-med experience“)

Dewar said Lazer taught him about balancing an academic career with growth in another field.

“One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from him is how one can continue to be active, learn and grow in an art practice – in my case, music – while maintaining an academic career at the University,” Dewar said.

Fox echoed Dewar’s sentiments, saying he owes Lazer some of the credit in his own growth and development process.

“Dr. Lazer is a great friend whom I admire and trust,” said Fox. “His influence and encouragement have helped me grow as a person while at The University of Alabama and I, along with countless others, could never thank him enough.”


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