Beeswax with Dr. John Madsen

John Madsen, Associate Professor. Photo by Sara Clifton.
John Madsen, Associate Professor. Photo by Sara Clifton.
BEESWAX with Dr. John Madsen, Associate Professor.

Where is your hometown and what’s your education background?

I grew up in Amery, Wis. and attended high school there. I went to the University of Wisconsin in Whitewater for my bachelors and masters. I received my undergrad in business education and my masters in broad field communication. I got my doctorate from the University of Kansas at Lawrence.

When did you come to SAU?

I started as an adjunct instructor in 2001 and became fulltime in fall of 2003. Before, I taught two years at what was then called Haskell American Indian University in Lawrence, Kan. I taught for 27 years at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa.

How did you end up here and what were your jobs prior to coming to SAU?

I took early retirement from Buena Vista and moved here in 2002. One of the deans here asked if I was interested in teaching full time here. I was adjunct here and word got out. I was invited to teach at Blackhawk Community College and Eastern Iowa Community College. One semester I had five sections. Working full time here was much simpler than going to three different campuses.

Are there any standout moments for you in your career teaching at SAU?

It’s been enjoyable to teach the students here. Most of them are relatively serious about getting their degree. There are a number of different students that you establish a good relationship with. There are now five or six of my students who have now gone on and gotten masters degrees. It was fun working with them.

What will you miss the most about SAU?

The students. If it weren’t for students, I would have left earlier. I still enjoy the students and the way in which students think and to a certain extent how they have got the world constructed—it’s fun to engage them and see how they see the world.

What are your plans for retirement?

Nothing specific. There are a number of things. I intend to stay physically active. There is a program in Rock Island in which one of my neighbors is involved in—they work with early elementary kids to help them understand fundamentals like 2 +2 = 4, 2+3 = 5, 2 x 3 = 5, etc. My neighbor invited me after hearing I wasn’t going to be teaching.

Hobbies and Interests

I do a little work in photography, I also enjoy some gardening and watching the 50-60 birds that come to feed at my deck. I’m interested in politics and political activity.

Advice for students

The world they’re going into is tougher than the world I went into when I was their age. The world is changing so rapidly and it’s the ability to think that will carry them. The world is changing in so many ways and I think that the better understanding they have and the more positive they feel the greater the chance they’ll have. I hope students understand that a simple degree isn’t going to carry them. There has to be a lot behind that—the ability to think about serious issues, the ability to work are both going to be key to future.

Every student should understand globalism and its impact. We’re much more global today than we’ve ever been and are going to become even more so in the future. It’s better for students to understand globalism and work at the competencies necessary to operate in a world like that.

Russia, China, Japan, and the European Union all have so many good universities and colleges. That’s the competition for SAU students. There are so many more good schools world wide. Students are going to have to compete with them.


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