Professors you love

Geoffrey Morley-Mower


His energy captured our attention

By Carla Frye ('95)

As I reflect on my own four years at James Madison University, I am always reminded of that scared country girl leaving home for the first time. I grew up in Luray, which is only 30 minutes away from JMU, yet it felt as if I were a thousand miles away. I was both very excited to be a freshman and very nervous wondering what lay ahead.

Like most freshmen, I was confused about what to choose as a major. I started out as a criminal justice major who wanted to be a corporate lawyer someday, but that all changed that spring when I met English professor Geoffrey Morley-Mower. Because of him, today I am a successful teacher with a true love for all aspects of English.

"I wanted to be just like him. I wanted to teach others the magic of literature and English in a unique way that would show appreciation and love for the subject."

Morley-Mower seemed to be so serious the first time I walked into his classroom. He didn’t crack a smile or show any sense of being a laid-back person. He seemed very structured and assertive, but he turned out to be just the opposite. He was the funniest, nicest, most caring and tolerant professor I had ever met or, as I now believe, that I will ever meet.

I remember it just like it was yesterday. We were reading a story about Frankie and Johnny when all of a sudden out of nowhere Morley-Mower began singing. I remember the verse word for word. It was "He was her man, but he did her wrong." We all just laughed and laughed. The best thing is I never forgot it. He knew how to touch our hearts with literature as well as how to keep us focused on the subject matter at hand. He never came to class without some type of snappy catch that kept us all in tune with his teaching. It almost seemed like magic.

Photo of Professor Morley-Mower with Charles Culbertson
Professor Morley-Mower shares a laugh with JMU staffer Charles Culbertson during a 2003 event honoring the professor and his World War II comrads.

Because of him, I took more English courses and ended up becoming an English major. I graduated in 1995 with a B.A. in English and a minor in educational media. I wanted to be just like him. I wanted to teach others the magic of literature and English in a unique way that would show appreciation and love for the subject.

Today, I teach English as a second language to students in Newport News. I get to use the techniques that professor Morley-Mower taught me everyday, while teaching my students and showing them the passion of wanting to learn and love English.

Though Dr. Morley-Mower is no longer with us, I still want to thank him for being such a wonderful professor and mentor. He was an inspiration to me, and I will never forget him. Words alone simply cannot express my thankfulness for having you as a professor.

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Published: Monday, February 10, 2014

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 26, 2021

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