INVASION OF PRIVACY: Varied experiences shape speech professor Bob Owens' life and career

Speech pathology professor Bob Owens - better known to his students as "Dr. Bob" - started his teaching career at Geneseo, expecting to stay two or three years. Fortunately, his plans changed, and almost 30 years later he can still be found shaping young minds in classrooms.

A long, curvy road led Owens to Geneseo, establishing him as a man of experience upon his arrival. Originally from Delaware, Owens obtained his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Delaware before circumstances led him to join the Navy during the Vietnam War.

In the Navy, Owens worked on submarines, which allowed him to travel to many places. "I bounced around a lot," Owens said, "both literally and figuratively." His naval career took him to Delaware, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, and then to Ohio State through Navy ROTC, where he eventually obtained his Ph.D.

After Ohio State, Owens came to Geneseo, where he now teaches in the Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences. He cites the first six years spent at Geneseo as an integral factor in his development as an individual. Owens worked at a camp for people with learning disabilities in his first six summers, where he was able to emotionally connect to the people he worked with rather than seeing them only as people with problems to be treated.

Owens is very fond of Geneseo and its "fun" atmosphere, which he attributes largely to its students. His work lies primarily in language development and language disorders, his passion for which developed when he worked in a clinic helping people with language-inhibiting disabilities learn to communicate. He draws immense satisfaction in helping those with extreme difficulty communicating to overcome their problems.

Owens makes the most of his spare time; biking, hiking, backpacking, skiing, drawing, painting, reading, writing and traveling, just to name a few. Owens has written five books: His body of work includes two novels, one of which is currently in the process of publication. This novel is a bit different from a traditional book, as it is designed to be both listened to and read. It's "a book with a CD attached," as Owens put it.

Travel is another of Owens' diverse hobbies, as it has had a massive influence on both his character and his approach to teaching. Owens has had the pleasure of spending time in Columbia, South Africa, South Korea, Bermuda and even Canada. He is driven to meet new people and learn from them, and particularly cherishes the experiences he has had in communicating with people in all of these places, even in situations where he did not speak the language.

On his trip to Korea, his vocabulary consisted only of the words "Hello," "Goodbye," "Please," and "Thank You." These experiences, he said, greatly affect his approach to people in general as well as the messages he tries to send to his students.

But for all his knowledge and life experiences, perhaps Owens is best represented by his taste in food. "I'm not a big eater, but I like those all-you-can-eat places where you can try a little bit of everything," he said. "I'm the same way with living."