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Beloved educator, acclaimed author celebrates 50 years at Citrus College
Glendora, Calif. (Jan. 8, 2024) – Dale Salwak, Ph.D., once asked his mother what she believed to be the purpose of life.
"Without hesitation, she answered, 'discovery,'" the Citrus College faculty member said. "And she was right. Every day, there are new discoveries waiting for us."
This optimistic outlook has come to define Dr. Salwak's approach to teaching. Celebrating a professional milestone few community college educators achieve, the popular language arts instructor noted that each one of his past 50 years at Citrus College has been unique.
"Each semester is different because the students are different and I am different," Dr. Salwak said. "It's a wonderful profession in which to grow and serve."
A longtime resident of La Verne, Dr. Salwak first joined the Citrus College community as a full-time faculty member in 1973. Raised in a family of educators, he was a natural. In fact, he quickly developed a reputation for having an innovative and engaging classroom.
Teaching classes on Shakespeare, the literature of the Bible, advanced rhetoric and English literature, to name a few, Dr. Salwak has maintained high standards for himself and high expectations for his students throughout the past five decades.
"I have continued to work at Citrus College because I love the courses I teach and the people with whom I work, and I derive great fulfillment from helping students who are all teeming with enormous potential," he said. "This is an ideal working environment with supportive management and very smart, dedicated colleagues."
According to Dr. Salwak, one of the benefits of working at Citrus College is that he has never encountered the "publish or perish" pressure that can be common in academia. As a result, he has had the freedom to write about topics that interest him – which is something he has definitely done!
A prolific author, Dr. Salwak has published 28 books, including "Living With a Writer" (2004); "Teaching Life: Letters from a Life in Literature" (2008); and "Writers and Their Mothers" (2019); as well as studies of Kingsley Amis, John Braine, Philip Larkin, Barbara Pym and Carl Sandburg, among others.
In 2023 alone, Dr. Salwak published two new books: "The Life of the Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne" and "Writers and Their Teachers."
"I worked intensively, seven days a week, on both books during the two-year pandemic lockdown," Dr. Salwak explained. "As an author, I am insatiably curious with a feel for language and literature that has developed over many, many years. My strength is non-fiction – literary studies, biographies, memoirs, inspirational books, and social and educational commentary."
In addition to his success as an author and an educator, Dr. Salwak is also an internationally celebrated magician. His performances have taken him across several continents to dozens of countries. Since 1972, he has also been featured at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, where he has been nominated four times as Stage Magician of the Year.
"The relationship between teacher and student, writer and reader, and performer and audience is very mysterious and fascinating and not terribly well explained," Dr. Salwak said. "All three of my careers – educator, author and magician – are about communicating and performing. I welcome the challenge in all three endeavors, and I care for and respect my students, readers and audiences."
Not surprisingly, Dr. Salwak has accumulated many honors and recognitions throughout his career. From being named the 2018 Citrus College Distinguished Faculty Member and receiving the Purdue University Distinguished Alumni Award to serving as a frequent contributor to the London Times Higher Education magazine and the Times Educational Supplement, the educator/author/magician has made his mark.
"The level of success Dr. Salwak has achieved in his various professional endeavors is quite impressive, and we are incredibly fortunate he has chosen to share his talents and skills with Citrus College for the past 50 years," said Dr. Greg Schulz, superintendent/president of Citrus College. "Because Dr. Salwak has taught thousands of students, read thousands of essays and presented thousands of lectures, it is difficult to fully grasp the extent of the impact he has had on our community. However, I am certain he has influenced many lives, and that the result of his hard work will reverberate across generations."
According to Dr. Salwak, working in "significant ways" with students has made his career meaningful.
"As teachers, we are in classrooms not for ourselves, but for our students. It's quite profound when we realize that sitting there could be a future leader, a breakthrough author and so much more," he said. "To work in a field where one is constantly challenged and to have the opportunity to share what one knows and understands with a student body, all of who have enormous potential, is humbling."
Although he is now celebrating his 50th year in the profession, Dr. Salwak has no intention of slowing down.
"My plans for the future in all of my careers are to continue growing and seeing how far I can carry my work and serve others," he said. "I give thanks, daily, for the extraordinary privilege I have to be in this noble profession of changing lives."