Dean took winding road to Monroe

Before establishing himself at MCCC, Paul Hedeen’s professional career led him across the United States and across the Atlantic Ocean.

Having taught at colleges and universities in Ohio, Maine, Iowa and Ukraine, Hedeen has experienced the world of higher education and the humanities.

His current position as Monroe County Community College’s Dean of the Humanities and Social Sciences Division is the latest adventure in his professional career.

Before becoming involved in higher education, Hedeen was involved in business for about 5 years. 

“It was a good experience,” he said. “It was the only time in my life when I’ve been in mainstream America.”

Although the world of business provided economic opportunities, Hedeen was drawn to the specialized world of higher education.

Hedeen’s journey toward higher education began in 1981 when he enrolled in a graduate program at University of Akron in Ohio.

During the three years he was there, he worked as a teaching assistant for composition classes.

After graduate school, Hedeen began a 6-year program at Northwestern University in Illinois to earn a doctorate in American literature.

While pursuing his Ph.D., he worked as a teaching assistant for literature classes at Northwestern, and taught at Clermont County Community College and Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, as an adjunct professor.

One of the best parts of teaching as an adjunct was the freedom and flexibility to develop coursework, Hedeen said. 

After earning his Ph.D. in 1990, Hedeen moved to north-central Maine to teach at University of Maine at Fort Kent.

“It was an interesting place to live,” he said. “Had it been better for my family, I probably would have stayed.” 

After about five years at Fort Kent, Hedeen moved to Iowa.

He was hired by Wartburg College, a Lutheran liberal arts college, and worked there for about 17 years as a professor.

Hedeen has also had the unique opportunity to lecture in Ukraine through Fulbright, a scholar exchange program.

During the 2007-2008 academic year, he stayed in Ukraine for 6 months to teach American literature.

“It was a wonderful challenge,” he said. “It was so different from what I had done up until that point.”

Hedeen enjoyed Ukrainian culture during his stay, and has returned 5 other times for poetry readings, lectures, and other academic events.

“They ask me to come back,” Hedeen said. “Ukrainian universities enjoy having native English speakers lecture because it helps students with their language skills.” 

Hedeen plans to return to Ukraine twice more during 2013.

He hopes to teach a cinema program in December about America’s classic Christmas films.  

Although Hedeen still teaches occasionally in Ukraine, his higher education career has shifted toward administration.

Last year, he was hired by MCCC to be the dean of the Humanities and Social Sciences Division.

Former MCCC President David Nixon, who retired over the summer, said Hedeen was a great addition to the college.

“MCCC is proud to have a faculty administrator who is recognized as a Fulbright scholar,” he said.

“I’m thrilled MCCC has a man with his credentials involved in our academics,” Nixon added.

Hedeen’s administrative position has fortunately allowed him to work with the subjects he is familiar with. 

“It’s great to work in the same neighborhood with things I love,” he said.

As a dean, Hedeen has had the opportunity to approach those familiar subjects from a different perspective.

His new administrative position provides an interesting and challenging opportunity to try something new, he said.

Mark Bergmooser, a professor in MCCC’s Humanities Division, believes Hedeen is a great fit for their academic department.

“He’s an academic at heart,” Bergmooser said. “It’s important to have a dean who can inspire us professionally.”

Bergmooser also appreciates Hedeen’s approachability and the flexibility he gives the Humanities and Social Sciences faculty.

“He gives us our space, and is there when we need him,” Bergmooser said. “That’s ideal.”

It is no surprise that Hedeen works well with the faculty from his division, since the humanities are his primary interest.

“I’m a typical humanities guy,” he said.

Hedeen enjoys being surrounded by art and other forms of expression.

Visiting art museums with his wife is among Hedeen’s favorite hobbies.

“We already have our favorite place in the Toledo Art Museum picked out where we go to see our favorite paintings,” he said.

 Another of his favorite pastimes is writing.

Hedeen has published one poetry collection, an edited collection of essays, and one novel. He also is currently finalizing his second fiction and poetry manuscripts.

“I’ve always wanted to write,” he said. “It can be a very vexing process, but it is also very rewarding.”

“There is no better pleasure than when the writing is really going well.”

Although Hedeen’s writing has always been secondary to his professional career in higher education, it has played a significant role in his life experience.

He stresses the importance of staying focused on what is most important in life.

“It’s never our work,” Hedeen said.

Hedeen’s extensive experiences in higher education and the humanities have allowed him to understand one of life’s fundamental truths.

“Our family and our relationships with others will always be most important,” he said.