Allegheny Graduate Uses Liberal Arts To Spark A Career As A Published Author & Educator

Cultural fiction. Education. Cultural Criticism. These topics are infused into the work of Jeffrey Dunn ’78. Dunn attributes his liberal arts education to laying the groundwork for his career as a published author and educator. 

“Allegheny College required me to sample from a breadth of subjects, allowed me to devise independent studies, and sent me down the path to a Ph.D. through the Senior Comp process,” says Dunn, who majored in English. “For me, Allegheny College was the partner who gave me the opportunities and skills to lay the foundation for becoming the published author of place-based, cultural fiction I am today.”

After finishing his bachelor’s degree, Dunn received his master’s degree in education from Allegheny College and a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Pittsburgh. He also holds a Ph.D. Certificate in Cultural Studies from the University of Pittsburgh.

Jeffrey Dunn ’78
Jeffrey Dunn ’78

Before becoming a published author, Dunn taught for over 40+ years as a secondary English teacher in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington. His philosophy has been to operate his classroom as a laboratory, which remains fresh and continues to improve the student experience. With a passion for igniting a spark in teenagers, he engaged them by creating opportunities to explore their various interests. 

One memorable experience Dunn created was initiating a reading fair, which allowed students to present independent reading projects. He also dedicated a part of his teaching career to connecting students with resources to technical schools, developing after-school programs, and helping remedial students with their reading. 

“Everyone deserves a good teacher,” says Dunn. “I love working with teenagers…you plant seeds that grow.” 

Dunn’s innovative teaching methods earned him recognition from the teacher’s union, a Golden Apple Award, and the 2014 Regional Teacher of the Year Award in the State of Washington. 

His first novel, Radio Free Olympia, has been nominated for the Washington State Book Award. Publishers Weekly has deemed it an Editor’s Choice, along with his second book Wildcat: An Appalachian Romance. Dunn is currently working on a third book that explores America and the meaning of freedom called Whiskey Rebel. He reflects that his extracurricular experience at Allegheny College inspired his literary career. 

“Working at WARC 90.3 FM as music director and DJ not only fed my lifelong enjoyment of music and voice but also lent me the primary conceit for my first big novel, Radio Free Olympia, where one of the two main characters broadcasts the spirits of the Olympic Peninsula from a pirate radio transmitter,” says Dunn.

When asked what advice he would give students, Dunn reflects “Be a sponge and say yes to new endeavors. Keep making mistakes, but not the same ones twice.”