Professor Spotlight: Robert Dickson

Professor Robert Dickson, known as Bob by art students, is a Professor of Fine Art here at Wilson College. Bob is a very passionate professor when it comes to teaching students about photography, printmaking, and art history. 

One can often find him in his office, Lortz 302, the printmaking room, or the darkroom, where he is always eager to share both his cat stories and his own personal life stories. 

Although Bob is mostly known for his journey and travel stories, very little is known about where his passion for art, photography, and printmaking began. 

According to Bob, his passion for photography began in 1971, when he was exploring caves for fun and needed to document some of the geology. His friend, Scott, would not process the pictures for him, but would instead show him how to process them in a darkroom. He declares, “I was quickly hooked, and the darkroom has been my happy place ever since.” 

Photo of Professor Robert Dickson
Photo of Professor Robert Dickson provided by Luis Gonzalez

Bob then moved onto using bigger cameras in the 70’s, 8×10 films in 1990, and was hooked on printmaking in 1995 through a mentor, E.C. Cunningham. Bob soon found that “looking at all kinds of art helped my photographs and I started taking classes.” 

When it comes to photography, Bob has participated in workshops with big names such as Ansel Adams and Paul Caponigro. He announces, “I have been very lucky to meet and study with some pretty big names. Although their names are less recognized now, they were my heroes growing up in photography. Paul Caponigro is still the photographer who can move me most. Those experiences, now over 30 years ago, changed my life and may be why I am here now.” 

Before becoming a professor at Wilson, Bob was a geologist and environmental lab manager in Denver for 25 years. He entered grad school in 2000, got a teaching assistantship at Wichita State in Kansas, and had a short-term teaching gig in Denver before getting a job interview with Professor Lindsey, a Professor of Fine Arts, and Professor Ackerman, an associate professor of History, here at Wilson College. 

He claims that he was shocked to get the job but hurriedly said yes. From day one, he loved the core principles of community and honor at Wilson. Those same core principles have kept him at Wilson all these years. He explains, “The community is why I have stayed. You students keep me young-ish.” 

While he voices that the transition from geologist to professor was not too bad as grad school had prepared him, “The 10 years before grad school were tough because my heart was not in my work although I was knocking myself out to do a really good job.” 

When it comes to working at Wilson, Bob’s favorite part is “the comradery with faculty and being able to see little light bulbs go off in the classroom (or darkroom) when students ‘get it’” 

The only drawback he mentioned was the amount of paperwork that can sometimes pile up. However, he states, “This is by far the best job I have ever had.” 

Sadly, Bob is not enjoying teaching during the pandemic as he enjoys “teaching people, not screens” 

Finally, he utters that his heart goes out to all the students who “are pushed and pulled all over in these troubled times”, encouraging them to “use [their] support systems.” 


Leave a Reply