By Scott Harvey
Administrators, faculty and students of Dr. John Hanners on Monday celebrated with the former Texas A&M University-Commerce professor and department head during a reception recognizing him as professor emeritus.
Hanners came to East Texas State University in 1992 as professor and head of Mass Media, Communication and Theatre; serving in that position for 17 years before returning to full time teaching in 2009. He retired this past May, marking 20 years of service at the institution.
“The university has been great. It’s been a great place to work. It has given me the freedom to do whatever I wanted to do,” he said.
During his tenure, Hanners taught 28 different undergraduate and graduate courses, nine of which he created. 41 master’s theses were completed under his supervision, and he served on three dissertation committees, and represented the Graduate Council on another 28.
He’s continued to remain busy in his time away from the classroom, even during retirement, where he’s currently rehearsing for the upcoming production of Proof at the University Playhouse. Additionally, he’s in the process of writing two books.
“I really appreciated the support to be able to pursue whatever inquiry happened to interest me at the time,” he said. “Which is exactly what I did.”
To date, scholarship and creative activities include one book, 27 book essays, 15 scholarly articles, three book reviews, and 15 refereed scholarly papers delivered at state, regional and national conferences. In addition, he wrote 10 plays that were produced, directed 15 full-length plays for the University Playhouse, and of his 12 major acting roles, eight took place in the professional theatre at the Hub Theatre at the Bathhouse Cultural Center in Dallas and at Ft. Worth’s acclaimed Circle Theatre.
Dr. John Mark Dempsey, who took over as head of Mass Media, Communication and Theatre in 2009, also Monday presented Dr. Hanners with a plaque for distinguished service to the College of Humanities, Social Sciences and Fine Arts.
“Between the time that John retired as department head and finally retired as a faculty person he was a fantastically terrific resource to me and it was a great comfort for me to be able to walk down the hall a few steps and ask his advice which I frequently did,” Dempsey said.
Hanners has also served on over a dozen university committees and been involved in several local organizations.
Among the students present at Monday’s event was Samantha Grace, who just completed her Masters at A&M-Commerce in August. She is now the Costume Shop supervisor at the Performing Arts Center.
“I find it very exciting that Dr. Hanners was nominated to be a professor emeritus,” he said. “He deserves so. He has taught me many, many things. I’ve been doing theater since I was five and I thought I knew a whole lot about it, but apparently I did not until I was under the tutelage of Dr. John Hanners.”
Prior to coming to the university, Dr. Hanners served 13 years as professor and chair of Communication Arts & Theatre at Allegheny College; two years as an actor in the Michigan Performing Arts Company at Michigan State University; a high school theatre instructor and football coach at Griffith High School in Indiana, and in the U. S. Air Force where he achieved the rank of sergeant.