Mr. Jay Dougan
Assistant Professor, Art Department
Though his stepmother was a ceramic artist, it wasn’t until Jay Dougan’s first undergraduate art class at Western Michigan University that he found himself pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts.
“I didn’t plan on becoming an artist,” laughs Jay, assistant professor of art at Fort Lewis College. “As for teaching, it was a number of positive encounters with teachers throughout my own education that ultimately inspired me to become one.”
After graduating from WMU, Jay taught ceramics at Southwestern Michigan College and quickly realized he had a knack with students. “I found teaching to be so rewarding,” he says. “I really enjoyed seeing students grow and teaching them to find creative solutions to assignments.”
He continued his own education next, earning an MFA from the University of Notre Dame before returning to teaching at the Herron School of Art and Design. Though he enjoyed his time at Herron, he wanted to teach at a liberal arts school.
“I really wanted to have students who came from all sorts of backgrounds and different walks of life,” he says. “Not just art students making art, I wanted to have the anthropology major in there. I wanted to have the engineer in those classes because they bring a whole new perspective into making art.”
Jay came to Fort Lewis College in 2007 and realized it was a great fit as he enjoyed the opportunity to teach students from a wide variety of disciplines. One of his favorite moments was seeing the light come on in the eyes of one of his students who was an art minor and a geology major. It happened as the student was learning about the glaze materials used to create ceramic artworks. She understood the industrial applications and science behind the minerals used to make the glazes and was able to apply her geology knowledge to her artwork.
“That moment where her minor and her major blended together was a really nice ‘aha’ moment,” he says.
Jay is always searching for his next “aha” moment as well in that he feels a good teacher must also be a constant learner.
“I think good educators must continue to learn, too,” he says. “I’m interested in lots of things, and I know it makes me a stronger teacher when I explore those curiosities.”