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Born in Denver, I graduated from Manual High School -- an inner-city public school -- after living briefly in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. My professional degrees include a B.A. in Philosophy from Williams College (1980) and a Ph.D. in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford (1990). Growing up in Colorado, my hobbies were guitar, telemark skiing, and wilderness mountaineering. My first teaching experience came as a wilderness skiing and rock climbing instructor in Alaska, Africa, and the Rockies. In 1985 I was a member of the American Mount Everest West Ridge Expedition. Before entering grad school at Stanford, I even had a brief career as a singer/songwriter, working as a warm-up act for better-known performers such as Don McLean and Harry Chapin on the New England college circuit. In fact, writing songs was what first got me interested in studying poetry! After eight long years of "gradual school," I finally joined the Foothill faculty in 1989 and served as Dean of Language Arts from 1994-1996. Now, in addition to College Reading and Writing, I regularly teach courses in Creative Writing, Poetry, American Literature, and Lesbian/Gay Literature. In 1991, I co-founded the Foothill Gay/Lesbian Employees Association; I also serve as faculty advisor for the student Gay/Straight Alliance. In my spare time (if there is any!), I am researching two books: A Western Walden: Mindsurfing Lake Tahoe, a literary history of the Lake Tahoe region; and Mindsurfing Mount Everest, an ecological history of earth’s highest peak.


After completing my PhD in Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford in 1991 with a dissertation titled "John Muir and the Nature of the West," I joined the Foothill College faculty as co-Director of the Foothill College Cultural Diversity Center (1991-19933) and Dean of the Language Arts Division (1994-1997). Currently I'm a full-time tenured Professor of English at Foothill College and Stanford EPIC Visiting Scholar for 2013-14 and 2015-2016. I'm also serving as co-director of Foothill's Center for a Sustainable Future. My book reviews appear regularly in the Los Angeles Review of Books. My story series "How Americans in Paris Changed the World" presents 250 years of American innovators, all the way from Benjamin Franklin to Steve Jobs and Barrack Obama. My online series "Earth's Largest Lakes" journeys to the largest freshwater lake on each of the seven contintents, with special emphasis on the catastrophic impact of climate change. My Top Ten Tips for Student Writers presents great tips and techniques for college-level writers.