Retirement hasn’t slowed down Professor Emeritus James Nash. Since leaving the hallowed halls of Montclair State in 2009, where he was a member of the English Department for 37 years, Nash has been traveling for both business—teaching English in Austria and China—and pleasure—hiking and taking in the beauty of Italy with his wife Teri.
Nash’s teachings overseas were part of a program sponsored by Montclair State’s Global Education program. “I’d never been to Asia so navigating daily life in Shanghai—huge, crowded, bustling—was challenging and often exhilarating,” Nash said. He described Graz as “a gem of city. Small, beautiful and friendly; full of cultural opportunities.”
Nash said experiencing a foreign country as a scholar is different than as a tourist. “As a traveler I saw wonderful things from an outsider’s perspective but had little substantial contact with the people. The Global Education program has given me the opportunity to interact with truly interesting people in depth about matters they care deeply about—research, teaching and writing.”
When Nash is not traveling he’s at home enjoying his seven grandchildren, reading, and exercising. He’s even considering a half-marathon. He also participates in a writing group that includes former graduate students of his creative nonfiction class. “I’ve continued to meet with several of them to exchange and discuss our writing,” he said. “They are so talented and prolific that I’m sometimes struggling to keep up. But involvement with gifted, passionate writers is one thing from my teaching career that I couldn’t imagine giving up.”
That statement is surprising as his commitment in the classroom was evident and to some, even contagious. “I try to treat my students the same way Jim treated us—with lots of care and concern,” said Margaret Anne Roman ’76 MA, a professor of English at the College of Saint Elizabeth, Morristown, NJ. Even though she went on to earn a PhD at Drew University, she says Nash “was the best teacher I ever had. He was smart and he cared.”
Roman recalled one particular class on 18th century literature in which Nash brought in attire for the students to don. “The century came alive as we sat around as if we were in an 18th-century parlor after dinner discussing Dryden, Pope, and Swift,” she recalled. “It was Jim’s humanity that spoke to us ultimately. He empowered us to believe that we, too, could analyze at deep levels where literature spoke of life.”