John Mark Scott '69, Ph.D., was introduced to Washington & Jefferson College as a young boy during a visit with his father. He recalls being introduced to faculty members who had been teaching at W&J since 1910. It was a memory that stayed with Scott when he later applied to colleges, and upon being accepted to Yale and W&J, he ultimately chose W&J.
When he enrolled in the fall of 1965, W&J was an all-male institution, and it remained that way for the duration of his student career. Just four days after receiving his degree in the spring of 1969, Scott's draft number was called, and he reported to the Pittsburgh Federal Building where he was signed up for the U.S. Army.
Upon Scott's return from overseas in the early 1970s, the dean of academic affairs at W&J inquired about his career plans. The conversation led to a job offer for Scott, who was hired as an adjunct faculty member teaching Russian. "I never applied as a faculty member," he said. "I was ushered in."
Though returning to a co-educational College was an adjustment for Scott, it never impacted his teaching methods. "Male or female, they were all W&J students," he said. After receiving his doctorate degree from the University of Pittsburgh, Scott turned his focus to expanding the College's study-abroad program. Along with fellow professor Robert Dodge, Ph.D., Scott organized several Intersession trips to Russia in the 1970s to broaden his students' appreciation for Russian culture.
However, Scott's travels do not stop at Russia. Ten years ago, he launched a trip to the Zuni reservation in New Mexico, one of the very few non-displaced Indian reservations in the country. "We discovered Zuni during a freshman forum class and decided it would be an interesting destination," he said. "The students have enjoyed learning about and discovering the environment there."
Today, Scott's trips and courses remain extremely popular among W&J students, who voted him as "outstanding faculty member of the year" at Commencement last spring. Upon receiving his award, Scott's former student Kennan Killeen '10 introduced him as "our teacher, our mentor, and most importantly, our friend." Referring to his ability to develop his students' love for language, respect for culture and curiosity for life, she said that Scott "exemplifies the W&J liberal arts education."
After an almost 40-year career at the College, Scott has announced his plans to retire this summer. Yet his impact on generations of W&J students will carry them throughout their lives. "Each student who comes in contact with Dr. Scott," Killeen said, "whether in the classroom, on the Zuni reservation, or through a simple conversation on campus, has been impacted by his dedication and guidance."