An interview with Dr. Bob: 32 years and counting

Originally published in The Patriot –

For 32 years, Dr. Robert Dunston, better known around campus as Dr. Bob, has been teaching Bible at UC.

Dunston got his undergraduate degree in math at Virginia Tech and worked as a computer programmer for two and a half years. Nevertheless, God had different plans.

“I felt a call to ministry and went to seminary,” Dunston said. He went on to get a degree from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Union Seminary, and finally get his Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Dunston continued, “When I first felt a call into Christian ministry, I was at that time working with deaf people using American Sign Language.” He said he felt that he was going to work as a pastor to the deaf or something of that sort in the Baptist world.

“When I was at Midwestern Seminary the longer I stayed there, the more I got interested in what my teachers were doing and the ministry they had in teaching,” he said. After seeking counsel from his teachers, he decided that the Lord was in fact leading him to teach.

He and his wife came to visit in February 1983, moved here in June of the same year, and have lived in Williamsburg ever since.

“I guess my original plan was to start off in a college and eventually move to a seminary one day. But once I got here, I just enjoyed the college environment so much. I enjoy teaching with folks who teach business, biology, chemistry, human services and criminal justice.”

He continued, “I like having that kind of wide diversity of subjects and not just people who are teaching theology, New Testament and Christian education. It is so much nicer here, for me, to have that broad exposure.”

In his time here, he has taught children of his previous students. “I am pretty close to now probably having grandchildren of people that I taught when I first got here,” Dunston said. “That has been a lot of fun to try to maintain those family connections too.” He mentioned that there are actually faculty members that he had in class.

Dunston said one of his favorite parts of teaching is always getting to know the new students he hasn’t had in class yet. He also loves watching the “lights come on” inside a student.

“It is always fun, I think, not just trying to teach information they might not know but to help them begin to think about things on their own–why they believe what they believe– to investigate maybe new avenues of faith, new ways of looking at things,” Dunston said.

He continued, “The nice part too is students help me. Sometimes I am like that is an idea that I never thought about. That is something for me to learn as well. It’s kind of a back and forth.”

His advice to students struggling to survive college is this: “I think one tip would be not to postpone things till the last minute. I have done enough of that in college and seminary myself and have hopefully learned the lesson not to do that.”

He continued, “Probably it’s not a bad idea to create some sort of a calendar where you can see what’s coming up. It’s just trying to be organized and know what’s coming up.

“Just be open to new ideas and excited about the possibility of learning and expanding horizons,” he added.

Dunston concluded, “I love being here and working with the students. I don’t know if I can be here another 32 years, that may be too long, but I would like to be for a little longer.”