Terry Scout: Elevating The Art Of Teaching Business

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Terry Scout

Terry Scout

The e-mail subject line from Marcia Landskroener says: Terry Scout. Before I open it I recall that I haven’t seen much of Terry in recent years. Sometimes on campus as I walk to a lecture or concert. Once in a while in town. But not in the routine way we’d meet for so many years, me stopping by his office in Daly Hall to gossip and tell him one, sometimes two, of my PIJs (Political Incorrect Jokes.) The second one usually a gift from the late Bob Fallaw, whose office was also in Daly.

Not to see Terry is to miss the most cheerful member of the Washington College faculty. Not even the election of Democrats (Terry is one of two Republican professors at the College; the other has not been identified) could make Terry sour, much less Rush Limbaugh-angry. As to my jokes, terrible as they were, he was always pleased to hear them. It made me realize what a good teacher he was, being such an appreciative audience. I can see him in the classroom listening with care to a student’s question or comment. Good classroom teaching includes good listening.

Aside from his jocularity, there could be blunt pragmatism. I remember a lunch we both attended to meet a review team studying the Admissions Office, headed at the time by Kevin Coveney. For the reviewer’s benefit there was a discussion of what made Washington unique, and therefore constituted our bragging rights: small class size, favorable faculty-to-student ratio, the high number of faculty with PhDs. It was Terry who, at the end of the discussion, observed that other small colleges all over America could come with their own list of bragging rights and theirs would not be much different from ours.

It was the quality of our teachers and programs and students that made the difference, Terry said. Boast about that. And further, he continued, we had spent all too much time in this meeting (although the free lunch was good) discussing the obvious: That Kevin Coveney’s Admissions Office was doing an excellent job in bringing Washington College to the attention of good students. And here he raised a glass (of tea) to Kevin and hoped that gesture would be included in whatever report the review team wrote.

In the late 1980s I started the Washington College Literary House Press. Not that I knew what I was doing (or would be doing), so I roped in Richard Harwood of the Washington Post, Maureen Jacoby of the Smithsonian Institution Press (both of whom became major benefactors of the College), plus our own Meredith Davies Hadaway, then Vice President of College Relations, to help. Good help indeed. But not good enough when it came to the business side of publishing. Enter Terry Scout.

A business major is not in itself a liberal arts program. Accounting is not Aristotle nor Jane Austen. The business management curriculum had to meet the  professional standards set by outside agencies, which it did thanks to Mike Malone, professor of economics, whom the College had drafted to begin the program. He established a business writing workshop, a speaker series, and a business club—programs similar to the programs the other academic disciplines had in place. Terry continued these and further integrated his students into the tradition of the liberal arts in ingenious ways.

For the Literary House Press, he’d show up at my office to explain various business aspects of, say, marketing: We could price our books at $1,000 a copy and by selling one copy meet our costs and show a profit; or we could price the books at $1 a copy with hopes of selling 1,000 to meet our costs and make a profit. By understanding our clients, we could price our books somewhere between $1 and $1,000 to make our profit. “Profit,” I noticed, was an important word, one that does not turn up when explaining the metrics of a Robert Frost poem.

Terry also made arrangements for his students to intern at the Literary House Press. One year we sent business and English majors on a sales trip down the Eastern Shore to peddle our list to bookstores (Crab’s Hole and Talking Tidewater were big sellers). Other business majors earned internship credit by organizing our accounts; one did a “reconstruction” of our expenditures by going through my grocery store bag of receipts and sales records; one very patient senior taught me “double-entry bookkeeping” (don’t ask me now what it is or how to do it, I just remember that Lou Stettler, Vice President of the Business Office, was pleased).

Beyond these successful efforts to assimilate his majors into the liberal arts culture, Terry established a global education component to the business management program. Why should Washington College business students be parochial? No other major in our College is. Think of Renaissance painting or the plays of Ibsen. Plato. Russian history. Now think: business practices in Hong Kong.

Not all business majors were all business. One student stopped by my office to ask what novels she might read where women had jobs. A Google search of my graduate education turned up only Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders as a shoplifter and Stephen Crane’s Maggie: A Girl of the Streets who was… well, a girl of the streets. Beyond that, I was hopeless and helpless. Another student wanted to know about the “math” of poetry, by which she meant the variety of numbered stanzas; here I was helpful, showing her the patterns of sestinas, sonnets, and villanelles. A third had been reading Jane Austen’s Emma for her English class and noticed no one in the novel worked. What was that about? Not men, not women. Nobody worked.

What it is about is early 19th-century English history, the economics of class structure, the role of women as delineated in fiction (no jobs for women); in short, the departments and programs of a liberal arts education, as in: Washington College.

When I opened Marcia’s e-mail it read:

Hi Bob,

You may have heard that Terry Scout is retiring at the end of this semester. He has always said that he wants you to deliver his “eulogy.”  It might be nice if we beat him to the punch and not wait for his demise. Would you be willing to offer a tribute to Terry in the upcoming issue of the Magazine?

 I have, and it has been my pleasure. I raise a glass (not tea) to you, Terry, in hopes it becomes part of this tribute.

Robert Day is the author of seven books, including works of fiction, poetry, and literary non-fiction. Forthcoming in 2015 are The Billion Dollar Dream and Other Stories (Book Mark–BK/MK) and Chance Encounters of a Literary Kind, autobiographical essays on poets and writers (Serving House Books).

 

This article first appeared in the Spring 2015 edition of the Washington College Magazine.

 

Letters to Editor

  1. Joe Lill says:

    For almost twenty years I always looked forward to seeing Terry at Washington College on a daily….or more than daily basis. You see….Terry loved to eat and that was our connection. Terry could smell a free catered party all the way across the Campus or knew he could enjoy a meal in the Dining Hall at an artificially subsidized price ( left wing socialist policies that he made a special exception too since it struck his Achille’s Heal ). He was always helpful, friendly, and most of all…I considered him a good friend.
    For quite a while I thought he would never retire, staying until he finally left this mortal world and that his final wish would be to have himself mummified so he could be stored in the “Bell Tower”, looking out over the Campus that he called home for so many years.
    I’m teasing him now just as I did when I saw him every day…after all…a Retirement “Roast” is something I know he could sink his teeth into.

  2. I am one of the fortunate ones to have been taught by Dr. Scout (Terry). As a non-traditional student who was working and taking a class or two each semester, I enjoyed both the content and method offered by Terry. I will never forget his “one, two, three” and “ABC” (actions will provide either benefits or consequences and you determine the result). Terry and I served on the board of the chamber of commerce and he was always willing to give of his time and expertise. He will be missed on campus and around town. Terry, may you have gentle winds and following seas.

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