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English Chair Dr. Charles Brichford Retires

By James Trent
On March 28, 2018

Dr. Charles Brichford
Courtesy of Concord University

Dr. Charles Brichford, chair of Concord’s English Division, is set to retire at the end of the 2018 spring semester.

After having served many different positions during his tenure such as President of Faculty and Board of Governors representative to name only a few, Dr. Brichford is going to retire from teaching after this semester. “There are things I need to do,” Dr. Brichford said, “places I want to go.”
Brichford, originally from Illinois, has worn a few different hats during his time in the workforce. After double majoring in English and French at Grinnell College in Iowa, Brichford went to work in a factory for a year before returning to get his master’s degree at Indiana University. “I didn’t want to work in a factory,” Dr. Brichford said. “I wanted to do something else but I wasn’t sure what else to do. So I figured if worse comes to worst I could teach, which was never really a career goal for me, so I went back and got the master’s degree and had had enough of that, so I took off to do something else for a while,” Dr. Brichford laughed.
Between getting his master’s degree and his doctorate, Dr. Brichford worked at the Labor Department for three years investigating wages and moved to Fairmont, Indiana. “I lived two blocks from James Dean. I never stopped over to visit him,” Dr. Brichford joked. He continued, “My background in English was extremely useful. You had to interview people and the ability to actually hear what was being said without it being said is just exactly what you need. People used to ask how many years of accounting I had and I’d say, ‘I didn’t have any years in accounting. I can add, and if these don’t add up I can figure that out.’”
After three years of that, which Dr. Brichford said, “…was not as dull as it could have been,” he knew he wanted to do something else. He took some time off, traveled to Europe, and then returned to Indiana University to get his Ph.D. During his doctoral program, Dr. Brichford taught at Indiana University as a teacher’s assistant, and at various other colleges as an adjunct professor, before going to Kansas and teaching in a non-tenure track position. After four years there he applied for a generalist English position, not the American specialist position he would eventually fill, at Concord University and “has been here ever since.”
Dr. Brichford took his current position as chair of the English department from his predecessor Dr. William Ofsa, who is still an active professor in the department, but has held other positions during his time at Concord. Dr. Brichford remembers, “I got put on the budget committee my first year here, and the people on there [at the time] are now retired professors and… they said what they thought and told the administration what they needed to hear… and that’s my natural temperament as well, so I was in congenial company.” He was later appointed as the President of the Faculty before he had tenure, and has served on the Board of Governors. Dr. Brichford has served in many critical positions during his time at Concord, and so his retirement is of significance to the entire campus.
Dr. Brichford is not quite sure exactly what he is going to do with his retirement yet, stating, “Maybe after a year of restfulness I’ll look for something else,” although there are already some projects he is considering. Dr. Brichford has been active with the Mercer County Democrats for a number of years, and plans to remain active in politics after retirement, as well as assist in the revitalization of Princeton. “I know people in the revitalize Princeton project, and I think there are things I could do...that would be useful. Like Liam Neeson, I have a set of skills,” he joked.
Dr. Brichford also thinks that getting someone new into his position as chair would be beneficial to the school. “You need new people in every now and then…get someone else in there and give them a chance.” While talking about his experience as chair, Dr. Brichford said, “You need somebody who’s going to be a little bit aggressive,” and went on to add, “there are things where aggressive dealing helps protect the integrity of the program.”
Talking about his experience at Concord, Dr. Brichford said, “One of the things you have as a faculty member here is the satisfaction of the missionary. A lot of things are against you… I’ve always thought that what we should aim for here is that the students at Concord should get a better education than anyone thinks they deserve… People in southern West Virginia do not rate high in the esteem of anyone outside [the state], and actually they’re worse here. No one disrespects West Virginians like West Virginians. But nobody thinks we’re worth much down here, and of course there’s nothing to that… I’ve found the students here have a lot of ability that they have virtually no idea they have, that they have not been told they have, and they have not been encouraged to develop it… I always thought we could do better for them, and that gives you a feeling of accomplishment. When we’ve been able to do that, it’s rewarding.”


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