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An Ordinary Man Doing Extraordinary Thing

Professor William Rowley: Shining a light on those who work hard everyday

By Liliana Mota
Published on LatinoLA: December 1, 2012


An Ordinary Man Doing Extraordinary Thing


A typical college student has a difficult time juggling school and work, between late night study sessions and overloads of coffee; they manage to get through the day.

William Rowley, 42, musicology PhD student at USC, has accomplished what many may see as nearly impossible. Not only has he learned to juggle having a professional career as a philosophy professor at CSUF and Chapman College and being a college student at USC, he has also managed to raise a family. Between being a college student, professor, adoring husband and loving father, Rowley is doing it all and with great enthusiasm.

In 1993, Rowley tied the knot with his lovely wife, Lisa, clinical psychologist. Since then he has happily raised two beautiful children, Elizabeth (9) and William (6) while keeping a strong, healthy marriage for almost 20 years. Between running to class and getting to work, free time is rare for many individuals but for Rowley, it is extremely limited.

When the opportunity comes around he makes sure to take joy in every single second of it. Rowley entertains himself by playing cards, poker specifically, or by enjoying a game of golf.

"I'm a fanatic, pre-avid golfer," said Rowley, "It's one of my favorite past-times, along with playing baseball with my kids."

Rowley is a man of many talents; not only is he a philosophy professor, he is also a professional musician who loves to sing classical music at local events. "Whenever I have the chance, I like to go down to local events to sing and play music," said Rowley. Although he is very dedicated about teaching philosophy, Rowley's number one passion has always been music. He decided to focus on his number one passion and is eagerly working towards receiving a PhD in musicology.

For many a typical weekday consists of getting up, going to school, going to work, and fitting a homework session in between; but for Rowley it's a different story. "I get up, get the kids ready and take them to school, teach a class at CSUF, drive over to USC, then teach an evening class at Chapman," said Rowley. Sometimes traffic is horrible, which leaves Rowley exhausted at the end of the day.

Having an undergrad in bass performance from Berklee College of Music in Boston and a master's in philosophy from CSU Long Beach, Rowley has taught a variety of philosophy courses at both CSUF and Chapman College for the past twelve years. Although having hectic weekdays, driving back and fourth between schools, Rowley has always kept positive, knowing he is working hard and will soon have a rewarding lifestyle once he finishes schooling at USC.

At one point Rowley was teaching eight philosophy courses at five different colleges, which is his record. When asked how he managed to accomplish such a thing, he responded with: "It was easy, no kids."

Between writing his own papers, jogging from class to class, driving the kids to school, taking courses at USC and much more, the most difficult challenge Rowley is faced with is time management. Despite the fact he may not get much sleep at night, and describing management between work, school and family time as "grueling" Rowley has never lost motivation nor enthusiasm when it comes to achieving his life-long dream and soon becoming a USC musicology graduate.

Rowley has big plans in store for when he graduates, "I hope to get a full time job in a music department and continue to sing professionally," he stated.

Rowley has always had an interest in philosophy itself. "I have always found philosophy interesting, I wanted to have a career in which I would have flexible hours and could still have time to raise a family," said Rowley. Despite the fact of wanting a career with flexible hours, Rowley wanted a profession in which he could make a difference in individuals' lives while doing what he loved, that was then he decided to take up teaching.

"Hobbies become jobs," said Rowley, "I want students to choose a major which they love and not because of the money or the easiness of finding a job."

The most enjoyable part of his job is seeing students get excited about philosophy. Rowley is known for conducting very interesting classes, which students' love and are engaged in. Students have described Rowley as a "great teacher, hilarious, down to earth and very informative."

Rowley encourages his students to major in something they love to do, something in which they will wake up every morning and be happy to go to work, just like him. The biggest satisfaction Rowley gets out of teaching, is being able to help out students find out what their true passion is. He inspires his students to chase their dreams and find a career that they will love and look forward to going to work every single day. Leading through example, Rowley is very passionate about philosophy, which students admire.

"His class was awesome, I really enjoyed it. Professor Rowley is a really funny guy," said Rojas, a former student of Rowley. Keeping the class engaged in the subject is not a problem for professor Rowley, as he is able to grab the student's attention through his sense of humor. Not only is he an outstanding professor, he is also an amazing college. "He is a terrific colleague. He is enthusiastic and he cares about his students," said Dr. Heather Battaly, chair of the philosophy department.

"I want students to leave my class passionate about something. I want them to find a career that they will love, hobbies become jobs," he added.

Photo by William Camargo, Daily Titan

About Liliana Mota:
Journalism major at California State University, Fullerton
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