By SAMANTHA MIDDLESTEAD/Montana State News
The window in room 345 of Montana State University’s Reid Hall overlooks the mass of students walking to class on the Centennial Mall, but attention is drawn to the various attractions decorating Dr. Shannon Taylor’s office.
The sun shining through the window illuminates the many books, photos and diplomas that fill the walls and clearly indicates the professor loves to showcase his many passions for wildlife and education.
A few distinct hunting pictures stand out. “Being outdoors is the Montanan way of life,” Taylor said. “And I am all about keeping it that way.”
Though not a native of Bozeman, one can tell immediately that he holds a fervent passion for the school and community.
“I grew up in Colorado Springs, but no one needs to know that,” said Taylor, who received his doctorate from the University of Colorado in experimental psychology.
When asked how he wound up teaching management at MSU, Taylor said, “I couldn’t find a job so I went into business for myself. I owned a bar, worked in stream reclamation and at a ski lodge.”
Taylor reminisced that these assorted experiences and his extensive education made him the person he is today. He says he is not afraid of taking chances, and he affirmed that these “adventures” have significantly influenced how he speaks, acts and teaches.
“Taylor’s classes are filled with enthusiasm, and he always associates real life to my management classes,” said student Sandra Wahle. “He teaches the one class of the day that I actually look forward to hearing the lecture.”
Taylor’s many passions vary from building his own shotgun shells to politics and women’s rights, and he always promotes them in his classes.
“People have the right to be informed,” Taylor said. “Management isn’t just something that I teach. I try to show how these ideas are in our everyday lives.”
Obviously, this outspokenness and general conviviality has made Taylor a favorite among faculty and students alike, but Taylor said he traveled an interesting road to get to where he is now.
Taylor came to Bozeman through a few key jobs that slowly moved him north from Colorado.
“My brothers were working in Dubois, Wyoming, and they told me how great the people and land was,” he said.
After working a few months as an auto mechanic, Taylor spotted a job opening in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and decided the chance was worth the trip.
“I came up for the interview, and landed the position as a statistician the very same day,” continued Taylor. At that moment, Bozeman became his hometown, and he has never wanted to leave since.
In 1981, Taylor began teaching at MSU in management and information systems. His consistent tenure has allowed him to see first hand the many changes that have occurred within the college and community over the past 30 years.
“I have always been interested in the dynamics of colleges” Taylor said, “and MSU has changed in many ways over the past few years.”
For starters, Taylor has nothing but good reviews for the alterations made within the College of Business.
“When I first started, nearly 70 percent of the students were men. Now it is nice for me to see an even 50/50 ratio.”
Though it is evident the college is becoming more diverse, Taylor continues that, “Other ethnicities are everywhere, and I love that. It is a nice change for Montana, because it shows these kids from small rural towns that not every person is the same as those they grew up next door to.”
Taylor said he does not want the simplicity of Montana to change, but rather, “This new cosmopolitan way of thinking can only make the community better. People from other parts of the country and the world are great for the school because they showcase the differences in culture that we would normally never see here.”
Though Taylor believes the diversity is for the betterment of the university, he does note a lack of public involvement with the college over the past few years.
“I do not know if it is from a lack of trust from the government or the issues of funding, but there has been a growing distance between the university and the citizens of the state,” Taylor said.
While the citizens of the state are one thing, Taylor looked truly discouraged when commenting on certain parents’ beliefs towards MSU and the education provided in Bozeman.
“I don’t know if the parents believe we are elitists trying to take away their children, but people are not valuing the education we are giving anymore. People just do not trust the government anymore, and that is harming education as a whole.”
What has not changed, according to Taylor however, is the quality of students that MSU has enrolled.
“I am still in awe over how our students are hard-working and serious over their education,” raved Taylor. “That makes my job a lot more easier.”
The fact that most of these students are residents of Montana only makes things sweeter for Taylor who believes it is these kids’ upbringing that makes them so talented.
Though the distance has grown between the state and the college, Taylor does not want this to dismantle the work that MSU is doing. Research has been an ever-constant passion for Taylor, and one can see the spark in his eye when the subject is brought up.
“I focus mainly on the things that I am concerned with, but it turns out that these things are extremely interesting to other people as well,” said Taylor.
The subjects of hunting and fishing are common amongst the people of Montana, but Taylor looks at the economic value of such activities.
“This is a 1.5 billion dollar industry, and Montanans deserve a major cut of that.” Taylor even teaches an upper level management class on the subject to help promote this research to younger generations.
Taylor even sent all three of his daughters to MSU. “Two of them graduated with a degree,” he said with a smile, “and one graduated with a couple.”
Taylor believes that this school is a positive place to live and gain an education.
“I wouldn’t have paid that much money here if I didn’t believe that.”
Edited by Meghan O’Neal