By Blanton Matthews
The story of Paul Glover is a comeback story. At a big high school like Central High in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, it is easy to fall through the cracks. Academic stumbles near the end of his time there ended up delaying that end, squeaking by with his diploma after finishing in summer school in 1989.
You would not be able to guess it seeing his cozy, lived-in office in Henderson State’s Garrison Center, with his many diplomas on the wall between movie posters, but at that time, Glover’s academic career seemed over. Why wouldn’t it be? Soon he got work as a roadie sound technician all along the Gulf Coast states. For the next few years he worked shows from Mississippi to Florida and everywhere in between for stars like B.B. King and Michael Bolton.
But after five or six years on the road, he found himself dissatisfied with his lack of a secondary education and entered Shelton State Community College. In 2001, Glover graduated from University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Arts in Telecommunication and Film, with a Broadcasting emphasis and a double minor in History and Psychology. Having found it in him to apply himself as an undergraduate after his years off, he went straight to graduate school at Angelo State in San Angelo, Texas.
After being a good undergrad student, finding college much more suited to his needs and interests than he remembered high school being, he expected his master’s degree to come just as easily, until he got his first paper back ungraded as a wake-up call from a professor telling him to start from scratch. He did, and pushed through maintaining a high grade-point average until he earned that M.A. in Communications Systems Management. It is a good story he likes to relay to upperclassmen. “I’m pretty proud of my comeback story and I try to pass that on to students,” he said. “Never give up.”
While in San Angelo he had a graduate assistantship in the media department working with athletics broadcasting Rams home games at their sports arenas, then through the strength of his presentational skills was offered a teaching assistant position in a Public Speaking class. He remained at Angelo State as an instructor for a while longer where his advisor Pat Turner and friend found an opening on a LISTSERV email at a little school in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, which Glover interviewed for in the summer of 2005.
Glover says his position at Henderson State is “a dream job,” and that it would be so for “anyone that loves teaching, student media and creating audio and video.” He has loved serving Henderson and Arkadelphia. He was also able to commute back and forth to Conway and pursue an M.F.A. in Digital Filmmaking from University of Central Arkansas. “[Henderson] really was a perfect opportunity but took a lot of work and dedication on my part as well.”
Glover’s students and their work can be seen and heard all across the country. Many start in Arkansas after graduating, like Derrell Young at 103.7 “The Buzz”, and Zack Walthall who worked for UAMS. Others journey farther like Josh Berry, an anchor on Fox 17 in Michigan and Alex Durham on WLKY in Louisville, Kentucky. Others become teachers themselves like Hunter Lively and Cortez Akins at Fountain Lake and Arkansas High, respectively. He is endlessly proud of his students, and says “their success is all them.” He also says that despite many of his students being far away doing big things, “Every time something about HSU made the news as of late, I received a lot of e-mails from former students just checking in and letting me know they were happy and working and appreciated what I did for them. That’s very special to me.”
Of the many classes Glover has taught at Henderson, his favorite has been Postproduction, teaching film editing and getting to introduce students to films like Jean-Luc Goddard’s French new wave classic “Breathless” and letting them cut together their own shorts from existing footage. Other classes include Preproduction, on writing film screenplays, TV production courses where students work in the studio on their own show segments, and Video Art where students made motion graphics.
Over the years, Henderson has been very good to him and allowed him many opportunities. He has been published in College Media Review, and with HSU’s Academic Forum, as well as speaking and advising at many conferences. He has also been able to make several documentary films seen in festivals in several states. “Good Luck Ray”, his first to screen at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, was compiled from footage from a man and his wife who decided to stick it out at home during Hurricane Katrina. He followed it up with “An Extraordinary Chance”, about a man who traveled to China for experimental surgery in hopes of regaining the ability to walk. His latest work, “The Man from Boggy Creek” about Arkansas independent filmmaker Charles B. Pierce (“The Legend of Boggy Creek”, “The Town that Dreaded Sundown”) and co-directed by fellow Henderson faculty Scott McKinnon won the Tabloid Witch award in 2021 for Best Horror Documentary. At the same time, he has worked on narrative screenplays he hopes someday could be produced into feature films.
Outside film and academics, Glover has been in several rock bands. “I grew up in a house of 8-tracks, stereos, and a TV so I always wanted to be in a band or be a character on ‘Happy Days’.” Adhering to a “30-minute philosophy”, he practiced guitar the same way he grades papers, writes a screenplay, or edits a film: by doing 30 minutes of work at a time until it is done. He credits this solid work ethic to his parents, and it has gotten him far in many areas. He learned a lot between his roadie experience and college bands, before putting music on the shelf as he hit the books hard in grad school.
At Henderson, he and other faculty formed Blind Opie, which led to working in other bands Redd Tape and Sensory 2. Performing with them tends to be limited to weekend gigs, to maintain the balance between work as a professor. “The balance is easy, my job comes first. Always.”
Glover never planned on leaving Henderson. It has been too good a job, too good an opportunity. In his 17 years here, he says despite a “tidal wave of changes” the Communication and Theatre Arts department has seen exciting growth. “Overall the students always seemed happy.” He turned down other opportunities to keep his dream job. He said, “The TV and radio students, your department, and the whole campus become your family,” and added with a laugh, “This even includes certain cameras and microphones you become attached to.” Still, despite his hope to stay at the “School with a Heart”, he has made sure to keep his resume up to date every year since 2001, and as such was well prepared to leave when the heat came around the corner.
As a tenured faculty member, he was offered one more year of employment at Henderson before he and the rest of his departmental family is gone, which he is taking to help current students transition to whatever is next for them at the next form of Henderson or in the workforce, and continue to recruit students as best he can. In the meantime, he is getting side
freelance work while slowly chipping away at a home remodeling project. He is also collaborating with former department chair and Blind Opie bandmate Michael Taylor on an audiobook version of Taylor’s 2020 book “Hidden Nature” about caves and the exploration thereof in and under Tennessee.
When Paul Glover leaves Henderson next year, his comeback story will continue. Now, the supporting cast is bigger. He and his Henderson family have banded together in more ways than one, and though they might move physically far apart, they move forward together.
“Moving forward is what needs to happen.”
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