What is your full name? Amr Nawar Al-Muayyad Al-Azm, but I go by Amr Al-Azm.
Where are you from? I was born in Beirut (Lebanon), and went to school there. I have a Syrian father and a Palestinian mother. I went to England for university. You could say the world is my home.
What other interesting places have you lived in? England, Damascus (Syria), Beirut (Lebanon), Provo UT, and I taught in Mongolia as well.
What is your educational background? I went to school in Beirut, then the University of London (England). I studied archaeology in undergrad and graduate school; then I went to medical school in England. I decided to leave medicine and teach archaeology and Middle Eastern studies.
Why did you leave medicine? I found medicine really wasn't for me. I liked hearing the sound of my own voice more than hearing somebody else going on about their problems.
And why did you choose archaeology? I didn't choose archaeology; my mother chose it for me. She was an archaeologist.
What brought you to Shawnee State? It was a fluke really. I taught for three years at Brigham Young University in Utah. I met Drew Feight at a conference and he urged me to apply. I'm very eclectic in my tastes and don't always fit into a department's pigeon hole. I was told that at SSU I could be eclectic and apply my varied interests. I wanted to come to teach and do something I enjoy instead of mundane things like administration. I was a Dean over in Syria. I've had the status and the rank, and I'm bored with it. I want to do what I enjoy most-that is teaching students. Shawnee provides me with that environment.
What courses are you teaching here? And what others would you like to teach? Right now I'm teaching Middle East in Modern Times, Islamic Politics and Religion, World Prehistory, and Introduction to Archaeology. Another area of interest to me is forensic anthropology, which is now popular with the TV series "Bones." People in this area are able to get jobs-this is always something students want to know about. Another class I'd like to teach is Politics of Jerusalem, or "Whose Jerusalem is it anyway?" This is a very politicized issue.
What does it take to get an A in one of your classes? Only God gets an A+! You have to be exceptional to get an A.
What is most surprising to you, so far, about SSU? What about Portsmouth, Ohio? There's nowhere to eat! I'm a foodie and there's nowhere to eat within walking distance of the campus my stomach will tolerate. As a college town I expected more places to cater to students-more eclectic. There's not even a decent deli. I cannot believe there is not a single businessman who wants to exploit this opportunity.
Why did you become a professor? I like the sound of my own voice. My father, mother, brother, uncles have all been professors. I've had a lot of jobs-even assistant producer at a TV station in England-and teaching is the thing I enjoy most.
What would you be doing if you were not teaching at SSU? Sitting home enjoying my retirement.
What do you like to do in your spare time? I don't get a lot of spare time, I wish I had more. I like reading, maybe watch a flick, or just chill out. Or maybe barbecuing some food and quietly getting plastered. I would enjoy more time with my kids, too. I like building model ships but have not done it in years, and restoring antiques.
Is there any truth to the rumors that you are really independently wealthy and teaching simply for fun? I come from a very wealthy and aristocratic family. It doesn't mean I am personally wealthy. I live off what I make. I drive a '98 Ford Explorer, how wealthy can I be?
What do you think of the rumor that a history professor buried a coded treasure map under Clark Memorial Library? I hadn't heard about that. The words "treasure" and "history professor" don't go together. History professors are usually under-paid and under-valued. It's an intriguing story.
What is something unexpected that you can tell people about yourself? I don't sleep. I don't have insomnia, but I get by on less sleep than most people, probably because I cat nap. And I'm a great fan of bacon! My middle name is The Baconator. I might be considered a failed Muslim because I'm so fond of bacon and beer.
If you and your colleagues were trapped in the mountains with no food after a plane crash, who would you eat first and why? It's a toss-up, a choice between three. Lavanya (Vemsani), as a vegetarian has purged herself of toxins and chemicals, so that's the organic health food. For junk food, there's Drew Feight. I've seen how many hotdogs he can Hoover up in one go! Or for the exotic, it would be Mark Mirabello, for his aphrodisiac qualities.
Everyone gets asked this question, what would be your weapon of choice in the case of a zombie attack? A Jedi lightsaber, I've always fancied one of those. I can do mean things with that. Or a Gatling gun.