GROWING UP NEAR Ohio’s Scioto River, Tom Amorose often felt like Mark Twain’s character Huckleberry Finn. It seems apt for someone who dedicated 26 years to helping Seattle Pacific students navigate not the mighty Mississippi River, but the challenges of young adulthood. Yet, SPU wasn’t his first stop as a professor.
Amorose served for 20 years in the State University of New York at Potsdam in upstate New York, first as an English professor and then as an assistant to the president. But he and his wife missed the Pacific Northwest. He earned his doctorate in 1978 from the University of Washington, and they had purchased a small cottage on Vashon Island.
Amorose and his wife returned to Washington in 1988, and, after teaching in a variety of small writing programs, Amorose joined SPU’s faculty in 1996 as the first director of Campus Writing, a role he kept for 16 years. His publications in the areas of writing-program administration at small colleges and universities have been anthologized and used as the basis for at least one national conference.
Amorose spent 20 years teaching in SPU’s honors program, often walking alongside students from their freshman to senior years. “Students taught me
a lot of humility,” he said. “I was always surprised at how strong they are, and I aspire to their strength in meeting challenges.”
Amorose’s first love, early English literature, was the constant throughout his career. His senior-level course on Shakespeare helped many graduating English majors use the Bard of Avon’s plays as a lens to look back on their college experiences and forward into their post-graduate lives. He also took part in several iterations of SPU’s general education program design and served on many faculty task forces and committees.
Upon retirement this year, Amorose continues his research into the rhetoric of public lands in the American West. A longtime resident of Vashon Island,
he is the Stewardship Committee chair of the Vashon-Maury Island Trust. And he may also start a nonprofit consultancy to help private forest landowners institute best practices for their forest holdings.
Photo by Lynn Anselmi