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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Professor Eilers in 51st year of teaching at A&M

Howard
Howard

Howard Eilers, a professor in Texas A&M’s Visualization Department, has been teaching at the university for more than 50 years.
A native northerner who graduated from the University of Minnesota and received his Bachelor of Arts in Spanish in 1962, Eilers has since made Texas his home for over half a century. His passion for journalism and photography led him to Ohio University to earn a master’s degree in photography in 1964, and then to the commercial photography field in Michigan for a few months following graduation. Eilers said his co-workers during those months taught him many things about photography and fed his love for wildlife photography.
“Everyone I worked with there came from the top photography program in Los Angeles, so getting to work alongside them and learn from them was incredible,” Eilers said. “It was really an education.”
Following his time as a commercial photographer, Eilers turned to the field of academia, where he said his passions were. He served as an assistant professor at Bemidji State University in Michigan teaching general photography, as well as a campus photographer from 1965 to 1967 and as associate professor at Southern Illinois University teaching general photography and commercial/industrial photography from 1967 to 1969.
“I always knew I wanted to teach,” Eilers said. “After some time at Southern Illinois, I got a call from a colleague at Texas A&M asking me to come interview for a job in the journalism department, and that’s where it all started.”
Eilers began his career at A&M in 1969 as a professor in the journalism department. He said at its peak the Texas A&M College of Liberal Arts had nearly 1,000 majors, and journalism was the chosen major of students who wanted something which tied in both liberal arts and public relations. Eilers was passionate about mastering new technology and bringing it into the hands of students to promote innovation.
“I remember going to a Photoshop clinic in Dallas and then being able to purchase the program, bring it to the university, and create a whole class around teaching it,” Eilers said. “I also taught PowerPoint and Macromedia director.”
During the 1990s, the journalism department began to lose faculty and the program became smaller as those jobs were not replaced. In 2003, A&M announced that the journalism department would close at the end of the 2004 academic year, something Eilers said he and other staff should have seen coming.
Eilers said his multimedia classes were quite popular with architecture students, so he had developed a close relationship with the architecture school, and he reached out to them for a position when he learned of his department’s demise.
“I went to the school of architecture and asked what the possibility of me coming to work there was, and they said, ‘We actually want to build a department right up your alley,’” Eilers said.
That department was visualization, which combined Eilers’ love for photography and multimedia work. He has been involved with the program since its inception and was appointed to the committee tasked with building the department from the ground up. Eilers said being a part of the architecture school has been incredible, and the family atmosphere has had a significant positive impact on his career here.
“The school of architecture here is a family,” Eilers said. “It’s almost impossible to believe. Part of it is that all four departments in architecture are physically right here in Langford, and we all work together. We literally are a family who wants to work together and have strong relationships with each other.”
Now in his 51st year of teaching at A&M, Eilers said he has seen immense growth and cultural change in the university over the years. A drastic change that has taken place, Eilers said, is the number of women on campus. He said when he arrived at the university, women were the minority, even though his journalism classes were predominantly comprised of women. The starkest change Eilers has seen is the student population growth; despite this, he said, the spirit of A&M hasn’t changed one bit.
“The size of A&M when I came in 1969 was about 14,000,” Eliers said. “So I’ve been around to see all the growth that’s taken place. But it’s still Aggieland. It still has that spirit about it. I’ve discovered a tremendously friendly openness here, that’s why I’ve stayed for so long. That existed when I came, and it still does today.”

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