Experience is the Best Teacher
Sarah McQueen
smcqu643@uwsp.edu


Professor Dan Dieterich is coming out of retirement to teach English 349, otherwise known as the business Cornerstone Press.

English 349 is a publishing and editing class where students select a manuscript and edit, publish and market it.

Dieterich taught the class from 1978 until his partial retirement two years ago when Per Henningsgaard took over. When Dieterich originally started teaching the course, it had a very different format. Each student made her own booklet, as opposed to the entire class working on one book. He modeled the course after a publishing course at the University of Notre Dame.

Using the foundation that Dieterich had laid, Henningsgaard added his own twist to the class. He used his experience in the publishing world to make sure that students would be working in a publishing environment that was as authentic as possible.

Henningsgaard turned in his resignation earlier this summer when he took a job at Portland State University as director of their master’s program in publishing. Dieterich was asked to come out of his partial retirement and take over the class until a permanent replacement can be found.

“If I didn’t teach it, students were going to have problems. I hope that they will be approved to replace Per and this will be a one-semester thing. If they do not approve the replacement, I will be here for as long as they need me,” Dieterich said.

“Professor Dieterich is great. He is very experienced,” said Randy Ploeckelman, a student in English 349. “The class is interesting but very demanding. I’m excited about it though.”

Now that Dieterich is once again teaching the class, he is adopting some of Henningsgaard’s ideas.

“Per did a lot of things differently, and I am stealing some of his ideas, with his permission, and some of them I am not. I have my own ways,” said Dieterich. “Per was very useful over the summer. He was here up until the beginning of the semester, and I interacted with him a great deal. We went back and forth, and I got information from him.”

“I can’t imagine a better replacement than Professor Dieterich,” said Henningsgaard. “After all, he taught the course for more than 20 years and founded Cornerstone Press. What I found most impressive about Professor Dieterich is that he was eager to hear what changes I had made and incorporated many of these into his course design, so he wasn’t being at all complacent about it and returning things to the way they used to be, which would have been the easy option for him. I think he’s eager to see the Editing and Publishing class and Cornerstone Press continue to grow and flourish, as am I.”

Henningsgaard focused much of the class’s time on learning the program InDesign, a software for designing things like posters, fliers, or books. Each class member was required to design a book cover and 10 pages of the inside of a book. Dieterich has done away with these assignments, replacing them with writing projects that will be publishable. The students will be making brochures and booklets for different organizations like the Alumni office or writing for the SCENE newspaper.

“I like students to do actual, real-life writing. For example, the students will be working with the legal society here on campus, making brochures of various kinds for them,” said Dieterich. “I really am committed to the idea that you learn by doing. It has to be practical.”

Dieterich is enjoying being back, and things are going smoothly so far. The class is moving right on schedule and plans to select their book this week.