Northwest College

Teaching & Learning Center

Faculty spotlights

Learn more about what makes Northwest college’s faculty truly excellent! 

In collaboration with The Committee on Faculty Development and Morale and the office of College Relations, the TLC is excited to showcase the great work of Northwest College's educators! In this faculty spotlight series, we will feature members of our faculty that are recognized by nominations from their peers based on demonstrated excellence in teaching, mentoring/advising, service, or scholarship. Spotlights will also be promoted by the Marketing, Communications & Web office in a variety of media.

Vern Dooley

Posted: May 26, 2023

When associate professor of agriculture Vern Dooley joined the faculty at Northwest College in 1983, the thought of still being here more than 40 years later was something he couldn’t imagine. It was the first job offer he received after earning his PhD in Animal Husbandry from Michigan State University, and at that point, he was just “taking it as it comes”.

“When I came out for the interview, they gave me the keys to a college car and told me to look around for a little bit. So I explored the area and liked what I saw.”

Vern had done some teaching as a grad student at South Dakota State University where he earned his BS and MS in animal science, and again at Michigan State, but he had some long days during his early years at NWC. He was leading classes he’d never taught, digging into new textbooks, and trying to figure out how to put it all together. Armed with more than 40 years of experience, things are easier now in terms of the preparation, but Vern still makes adjustments based on new discoveries in the field or how his students respond to what they’re learning.

When he first arrived at SDSU as an undergrad in the mid-70s (about 100 miles from his hometown of Huron), Vern didn’t have much of a plan. He only went back for his master’s degree when he didn’t get into veterinary school, and his career path changed as he realized how much he enjoyed teaching instead. But unlike many ag professors at larger universities, who would rather concentrate on research and getting published, teaching a couple of classes almost on the side, Vern wanted to spend most of his time in the classroom.

“The research part was okay, but you had to spend an awful lot of time chasing grant money and writing up results, and I wasn’t thrilled with that part.”

It’s part of what led Vern to apply for a position at a “teaching institution” like Northwest College. Another aspect of NWC that he enjoys is the camaraderie that comes with a smaller faculty, allowing what he calls cross-discipline connections. But it’s the students who make everything enjoyable and keep Vern coming back year after year.

“It’s fun to interact with all of them and very satisfying to see what they go on to do afterward.”