Dr. O. Dean Gregory, 1927-2000

October 2003

Memories of O. Dean Gregory from John
by John Fanselow

Remembering Dr. Gregory
by John Brewer

Not the Last Word
by Margaret Scheirman

Dr. Gregory's Example
by Robb Scott

My Memories of Dr. O. Dean Gregory
by Kenji Kitao

Career Foundation
by Warren Roby

In Memory of Dr. Dean Gregory
by Kazunori Nozawa

O. Dean Gregory Festschrift
on the ESL MiniConference

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O. Dean Gregory Festschrift
O. Dean Gregory Festschrift

Dr. Gregory's Example
Contributed by Robert Scott

I first met Dr. O. Dean Gregory in the fall semester of 1979, when he was the acting director of the Applied English Center at the University of Kansas and I was applying for a part-time job as an AEC conversation group leader. Several years later, I began working as a graduate teaching assistant at the AEC, teaching English to international students at K.U. By the time I graduated with an M.A. in TESL degree in 1984, I had had several opportunities to learn from Dr. Gregory: at the AEC, where he mentored me and many other new teachers; in an Applied Linguistics seminar on language teaching; and in writing my master's research paper, for which he was one of the committee members.

By the spring of 1983, the Applied English Center had completed its move into the entire second floor of Green Hall, the building which previously housed the K.U. Law School. Dr. Gregory's office was in the northeastern corner of the AEC's new space, and no one who studied with him can ever forget the fully utilized bookshelves from floor to ceiling along each wall of that room. No matter what topic related to English language teaching you were interested in, a visit to Dr. Gregory's office always led to highly relevant resources. Sometimes, he would simply reach over and pick a book from one of the newer stacks on his desk and hand you the answers to all your questions.

In those early semesters working at a GTA at the AEC, one of the important chores I struggled with weekly were the lesson plans we had to turn in for Dr. Gregory's inspection. The Applied English Center, under the guidance of Betty Soppelsa, director from 1980 to 2001, was in the early 1980s one of those rare intensive English programs which encouraged new teachers to discover their own styles and gave us the necessary freedom to be creative and experiment with unique approaches. The bottom line, however, was that at the end of each week we had to turn in lesson plans describing what we had done, the resources we had used and why we had chosen these particular routes. I got lots of good advice and support from veteran GTAs and instructors at the AEC at that time, including Karen Pearson, John Brewer, Martha Harris, Chuck Seibel, Susan Hildebrand and Bob Crosier. But definitely some of the key points in my early development as an ESL teacher were established through conversations with Dr. Gregory about those lesson plans.

In the applied linguistics seminar I took from Dr. Gregory in the spring of 1983, we used Wilga Rivers' classic text, "A Practical Guide to the Teaching of English as a Second or Foreign Language." There were about 14 or 15 of us in the class, and each week a different student had the assignment of developing an "extension" on one of the chapters from the Rivers text. That student would basically facilitate discussion of the chapter after providing an original introduction, with relevant resources, and bringing up several questions for consideration. Dr. Gregory was extremely adept at running this sort of class. He was paying attention to every little detail, and, while he allowed the presentation and discussions to flow freely, he would step right in and challenge any loosely argued opinion.

One of my clearest memories of a learning moment in Dr. Gregory's class was the time when one of our classmates shared some concerns about some of the students in one of the AEC classes voicing anti-gay sentiments. A heated conversation ensued, with comments ranging from statements of support to Biblical pronouncements: and everything inbetween. Dr. Gregory had known the issue was going to be brought up, and he let our discussions range far and wide for about 10 minutes before he chose to intervene and made the statement which I imagine none of us has ever forgotten: "In this field, we tolerate everything except intolerance."

When it came time to put together my masters research project, I asked Dr. Gregory to join Dr. Edward Erazmus and Dr. George Hughes on the committee which would oversee my work on what I originally envisioned as a massive flowcharting project, with computer applications, for English learners to use as a kind of map as they practiced for real-life encounters. It is possible that a few people from the AEC remember my first flowcharts, drawn on newsprint laid out on the floor, with about 12 different possible replies to the question, "How's it going?"

I might still be building that flowchart today if not for a friendly tip from Dr. Gregory, who handed me a recent text edited by Christopher Candlin, "The Communicative Teaching of English: Principles and an Exercise Typology," which contained a "Discourse Chart" by Peter Mohr for agreement and disagreement. That chart helped to focus my masters research considerably, and I ended up preparing a lesson plan for utilizing Mohr's chart to help advanced English language learners improve their conversational skills for academic settings.

I have presented my "Logical Conversation Flowchart" activities at numerous workshops and seminars, in the U.S., Latin America and Japan, and each time I make a point of mentioning Dr. Gregory's crucial role in my development of these activities. I also remember that by the time I was through with all the edits and re-edits of my masters research paper, many assigned by Dr. Gregory, it was a solid enough text to be reprinted by the ERIC Clearinghouse for Language and Linguistics. That was in the days before widespread use of word-processors, so the truth is I did not particularly enjoy having to re-type entire pages to incorporate those corrections. But today I consider myself fortunate to have gone through that "ordeal." I recently oversaw a masters research paper by a student in our ESOL program at Fort Hays State University, where I am a member of the faculty of Special Education/ESOL. I understood her lack of enthusiasm for making the edits I assigned, but Dr. Gregory's example gave me extra determination to expect only the best.

As I read the final, bound version of this student's masters project, and discover yet a few more errors I had not detected, I am reminded of the enormous gulf which still separates me from the example of scholarship and teaching those of us at K.U. received from Dr. O. Dean Gregory.

Robert Scott
Assistant Professor of Special Education/ESOL
Fort Hays State University
Hays, Kansas

2003 ESL MiniConference Online