Some people work for a living and some people forever dream of what they want to be.
Then there is Professor Tim Dillon, who is living his dream.
When Dillon, an MCCC English professor, retires in December, it is tempting to say Monroe County Community College will be a lesser place.
However, that is not true. The college is much richer for his time here. The Writing Fellow program is his legacy.
“I love watching my students grow, especially my Writing Fellows,” he said. “They learn so much about themselves along the way. Some even discover they really like helping others and this encourages them to perhaps pursue careers in education.”
Since Dillon began teaching at MCCC in 1994, he was never just a teacher. He has been a mentor and a life coach.
“He could have failed me on a paper I was doing,” confirmed Rachel Billock, a current Writing Fellow. “Instead, he handed it back to me and showed me
what I did and how to do it properly. I learned so much from him.”
“Definitely,” said Faith Funk, another Writing Fellow. “I literally was having panic attacks on a daily basis when I first started this. Today, I am totally confident. It is because he so reassuring.”
Emily Cornell, who is in her second year as a Writing Fellow, is certain Dillon’s legacy – the Writing Fellow program – will continue.
“I have no worries on the future of the Writing Fellow program,” she said. “Professor Dillon truly cares about us and I am sure he will have everything set when he leaves.”
No matter where ever life after MCCC takes Dillon, literature will always be his passion. It always has been.
“I was always a compulsive reader,” he said, leaning back in his chair.
“I don’t know why, no one else in my family was,” he laughed. “But I always loved to read.”
In true renaissance fashion, he can converse in nearly any topic. It is readily apparent he takes his reading seriously.
His reading list runs the gamut, from classic Greek literature to 19th century American authors like Henry David Thoreau, Herman Melville, Stephen Crane, and Walt Whitman, to modern authors such as Haruki Murakami. Topics run from quantum physics to history, to technology and also current novels.
Dillon’s passion for literature also extends to his music. He is an accomplished guitarist whose band in high school, The General Contractors, once opened a show in Ann Arbor for the legendary rock group The Yardbirds. Tim has also shared the stage with the likes of Detroit legends Bob Seger and Mitch Ryder.
Although at one time he enjoyed playing popular rock songs, he says he has moved on to more complicated and classical styles. But it’s still a song’s lyrics that captures his attention.
“I like songwriters who have a story to tell,” he said. “Jackson Browne is my favorite. He would be the one artist’s music I would take to a desert island. Bob Dylan is another.”
His motivation to teach is truly altruistic. It is also a lifelong dream come true.
“I first thought I would like to be an English professor when I was in high school,” he said. “I would be sitting in class thinking, ‘I could do this.’”
After high school, he attended MCCC as a student from 1969 to 1971 and went on to Oakland University, and the University of Toledo where he graduated in 1976. He continued to pursue his graduate degree from the University of Toledo.
“I don’t like failing grades and I never failed anyone who tried,” Professor Dillon said. “I always wanted to reach those borderline kids.”
Tim is a great believer in second chances. His goal, he states flatly, was not to fail students, but help them to understand how to write, how to think and accomplish the task and to grow from it.
“I want to know what people can do, not can’t do,” he said.
After retirement, Professor Dillon plans to travel. His favorite destinations are the United Kingdom and Europe. He especially is looking forward to visiting London, England.