At Trinity University, there are several members of the faculty who have been selected to become part of the community because of experience outside of academia. These adjunct professors were hired because of their expertise in practical fields beyond the realm of the academic, and each spends their time working and living two different work lives””one teaching at Trinity, and the other with the career they pursued originally.
Tullos Wells and Sean Wood are two such professors. Wells, who teaches courses in sports law and directed studies in sports management, is also a senior partner in Bracewell & Giuliani law firm and serves as general counsel for San Antonio’s National Basketball Association team, the Spurs. Wells got into law through “bad luck,” as he called it.
“I started as a journalist, and I just went wrong somewhere,” Wells said.
Transitioning to teaching was not easy for Wells, and although he always had an interest in teaching, he asserts that the transition went “poorly” at first, although there were no significant difficulties. Wells first taught in the 1970s for a brief period of time, then he started back up in the past two years at Trinity.
“I’m trying to get good at being a professor. Aspects of my job have prepared me for teaching. For instance, managing a large law firm and instructing young lawyers each year as they join the firm has helped me transition,” Wells said.
One unique aspect of his position as part-time professor that Wells enjoys more than any other is the “constant contact with very bright, young minds.”
Both professors acknowledge that it is challenging to balance the two different positions, mentally and physically. Wood, who teaches courses in public relations in the communication department, is also the multimedia manager for KGBTexas, which is a full-service public relations, advertising and integrated communications company.
“Fortunately, my employer is very understanding. Thankfully, we are just up the street at Pearl, so I can be at Trinity in ten minutes. Unfortunately, we have been very busy at work, so my efforts to spend more time on campus have been unsuccessful. I have to work right up to class time and usually have to leave for an appointment right after class, which is something that will get better as the semester goes on,” Wood said.
Wood, who recently completed his masters degree in multidisciplinary study, was a reporter for 20 years until 2008, when he “took the opportunity to get out of print journalism in favor of a more stable career.” Wood was recommended for an open position at Trinity in the communication department in 2011 and was subsequently hired. The transition from the public relations world to teaching has forced Wood to “prepare better for class,” he said.
“I was off-the-cuff as a reporter. I can still be spontaneous when I teach, just not quite as spontaneous,” Wood said.
In his position as multimedia manager at KGBTexas, Wood gives presentations regularly; this combined with his experience providing media training and instruction on social media for clients helps prepare Wood for teaching.
Wood has been at Trinity since fall of 2011, when he taught a course on public relations writing. After that semester, he did not teach again until fall of 2012. One thing Wood gains from teaching a subject he is so familiar with is a better understanding of the theory behind applied tactics. He also enjoys interactions with students.
“I love the interaction with students. This positions also forces me to think about what I do for clients and how I do it,” Wood said.
Samantha Grubbs, a senior communication major, took Public Relations Writing with Wood. Grubbs appreciated Wood’s direct approach to teaching.
“Professor Wood gave examples of what public relations documents looked like as well as video clips of PR in action. It was also beneficial to discuss real world situations like Lance Armstrong’s drug scandal,” Grubbs said. “Overall, it was refreshing to veer away from typical academic writing and focus on media writing. I really appreciated the straightforwardness of his teaching style.”