Professor Spotlight Dr. Jon Tuttle: Distinguished professor finds strength in rejection


Photo by: Austin Kemmerlin

Tuttle didn’t always pursue a career in writing. He originally studied journalism at the University of Utah.

Lauren Cole, Staff Writer

Professor of English and Coordinator of International Studies, Jon Tuttle, has been teaching at Francis Marion University (FMU) since 1990.

Not only is he well known in his field, around campus and in the community, he is also recognized in academia as the 2014 Distinguished Professor (the highest award given to faculty).  Most noted for his famous “wall of pain,” Tuttle has spent years compiling his rejection letters and displaying them on the wall outside of his door.

“The purpose was to show students how entering this profession requires you to deal with a great deal of rejection,” Tuttle said.  “You have to just be strong.”

Tuttle’s love of literature, plays and desire to teach began at a young age.  During a fifth grade art assignment, he was instructed to draw what he wanted to be when he grew up.  To little surprise, he drew a picture of himself sitting at a large desk, reading Edgar Allan Poe while holding a pipe.  Although the picture was many years ago, the content still holds true (minus the pipe).

Tuttle has focused his career on teaching a variety of students and has concentrated on playwriting.  He has had several works published and performed.

“I have always been a reader, but plays captured me,” Tuttle said.  “I wrote my first short story in high school.  When my teacher, Mr. Mensch, read it, he began to cry.  He cried when he read anyone’s work, but it still put a spark in me to keep writing.”

During his time at the University of Utah and the University of New Mexico, Tuttle worked on his dissertation surrounding his greatest influence and favorite playwright, Arthur Miller.  Miller is known for his book Death of a Salesman.

“It [Death of a Salesman] is the greatest American play ever written,” Tuttle said.  “It made me cry and then go home and call my dad.”

While his love of English is strong now, that was not always his top pursuit. Tuttle began his studies at the University of Utah where he graduated with a degree in journalism.

“All of my journalisms professors were sad, depressed and overworked, but my English professors were always bouncing around with smiles on their faces,” Tuttle said.  “I knew that was what I wanted to be doing.  I wanted to be a writer and be alone with my thoughts and a pen.”

Tuttle continues to be a cornerstone of the English department.  His helpfulness, humor and quick wit are a staple in the atmosphere on the first floor of Founder’s Hall.  Tuttle not only loves his students, but also his colleagues.

“I love this place,” Tuttle said.  “I love all of my colleagues.  They are hilarious, entertaining and so warm hearted.  I couldn’t imagine working any place else with any different people.”