Many Mississippi State University students would never guess the professor grading their assignments is a local rockstar on the weekends.
Mississippi State University has a faculty-to-student ratio of 17:1. With this large number of students, it can often be difficult to get to know faculty members on a personal level. Even for students who do get to know their professors in an academic setting, their personal lives remain a mystery.
The Reflector spoke with three instructors about their lives beyond the classroom. Jeffrey Rupp, Philip Poe and Jamie Dyer all participate in different music groups that play at local bars in Starkville and surrounding areas.
Jeffrey Rupp, former mayor of Columbus, Mississippi, serves as the director of outreach for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach at MSU. He has been playing music for a long time and was a drummer all through high school.
He shared that he feels letting students see him in a fun, creative role makes him more approachable.
"I think in some ways it breaks down some barriers to be able to talk to them not as a professor, but just as another geek out there playing guitar," Rupp said.
Rupp has played with many different people throughout his time being involved with music. Since coming to MSU, he has played with other faculty members as well.
When asked about how students felt about him being involved in music, Rupp shared that his daughter is now a student at MSU, and she is not embarrassed about it.
"We're in the transition phase," Rupp said. "It used to be really uncool that her dad did all this, and now she's seeing that her friends think it's cool, so now we're transitioning back to cool."
Philip Poe, an associate professor in the communication department at MSU, plays music around town as well. He primarily plays at Dave's Dark Horse Tavern, which is owned by a friend of his. He shared that he wants to make sure he does not use his platform as a professor to encourage students to go out to bars to see him play, but does not shy away from introducing himself if he sees them out.
"I really do enjoy doing it, but I feel that I'm a little torn because I don't want to use my position as a faculty member to promote people going to bars," Poe said.
He has been involved with music for a while, and got out of performing for a bit after transitioning into the marriage and family phase of life, but his wife encouraged him to get back into it.
"A year or so ago, I think after our daughter was born, my wife was like, 'You should get back into it. You should start playing around town again, that would be fun,'" Poe said.
Jamie Dyer, a professor of meteorology and climatology, has been at MSU since 2005, and has been involved with music much longer than that. He believes that after moving here, being involved with music helped him and his wife build community in Starkville.
"I would say between the music — and I did some of the community theatre stuff — and did a few plays here on campus with MSU theatre, that actually hooked me up with a lot of musicians as well," Dyer said.
Dyer's band is an Irish band called "The Bold O'Donaghue's" that plays primarily during St. Patrick's Day, but they also played a "Halfway to St. Patty's Day" event last year, among other appearances.
It could be surprising who you see out performing at local college town bars, and even more surprising to find out that MSU faculty are human and have their own hobbies.
"The students keep a pretty respectful distance in class or in the department, but when I see them out at one of these gigs, it's nice to just talk to them," Dyer said. "They get to know me a little better and I get to know them, so having that outside interaction, I think, is really important."