A black sports car takes a right at a red light and veers to the right driving into the semi-circle parking lot in front of Webb Hall. The car pulls into a parking spot with a small white sign with black letters that spell the word “Provost.” A man steps out of the vehicle and walks towards a building, stepping on bricks in scripted with names of those whom have donated to the university. The old floor squeaks as the man walks through the front doors of the three-story brick building. He says hello to those who walk past him or sometimes stops for a quick conversation. Almost every morning for a few minutes, everything is the same. The same parking spot, the same building, the same people, the same door. He walks to a white door with another “Provost” in black letters labeled on the door. He walks into an office and sits down behind a desk.
Almost twenty years ago, that same man pulled into a parking spot in front of a grey shingled apartment with a red door labeled E12 in gold letters. The car door squeaked as he shut it and his feet sunk into cold wet Tennessee snow. The snow crunched beneath his feet and left footprints showing the newly paved asphalt of the apartment’s parking lot. The smell of the new asphalt still lingered in the brisk crisp air despite the inch of snow upon it. Behind the red door that when he opened a red fleck of paint peeled off and fell onto the white snow beneath his feet adding color to the dreary winter day. As he walked into the apartment he greeted his wife and young toddler daughter with hellos and slowly made his way to the kitchen pulling off the layers of coats that kept him safe from the brutally cold winter winds. to the kitchen. He opened two white pantry doors before him and a small wooden desk and typewriter were squeezed inside to make the pantry an office. The walls of his pantry office were covered in homemade drawings from his toddler.
Every day for hours the man would move his typewriter from the pantry to the living room floor. For almost a year he sat on the floor of the living room typing on his typewriter as his daughter stacked and knocked over blocks or made houses for her dolls or played with her fake children’s kitchen set pretending to wash dishes in the sink the same time her mother was in the real kitchen. On his typewriter he wrote his dissertation in hopes to get achieve his PhD. In only took the man less than a year of sitting, typing, editing, and retyping before his dissertation was completed. He wrote his dissertation on his favorite author, Evelyn Scott. Books of Scott’s own writing were sprawled around him on the rug and words and sentences were circled, underlined and highlighted. The sound of a typewriter’s keyboard was much louder than the sound of a computer’s keyboard typing, it would even ding once the end of the sentence arrived and would begin again beneath it. But eventually the typewriter was silenced and put away for one last time.
When he finished his dissertation and his PhD, he and his family moved to Meridian, Mississippi for a year to teach at The University of West Alabama before moving again at a different university, the University of the Ozarks, in Clarksville, Arkansas. Five years later the man packed his belongings and his family and moved to Americus, Georgia to continue teaching at Georgia Southwestern State University.
One year later, the man parked his car in front of Wallace Hall at the University of West Alabama. He opened the trunk of his car and grabbed books, a picture of his diploma and lamp with a green shade. His office was on the same floor in the same building, only a few rooms down from his previous office.
A few years later, the same man walked into an office that had the word “Chair of Languages and Literature” along with his name scripted into a plate of gold.
A few years after that, the man yet again opened a door only this time labeled “Dean of College of Liberal Arts.” He took off his sports coat and then sat down behind the desk.
A black sports car takes a right at a red light and veers to the right driving into the semi-circle parking lot in front of Webb Hall. The car pulls into a parking spot with a small white sign with black letters that spell the word “Provost.” A man steps out of the vehicle and walks towards a building, stepping on bricks in scripted with names of those whom have donated to the university. The old floor squeaks as the man walks through the front doors of the building. He walks to a white door with another “Provost” in black letters labeled on the door. He walks into an office and sits down behind a desk.
After graduating from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Dr. Edwards, University of West Alabama’s newest Provost, thought his life career would be spent in a court room as a lawyer. While spending a year working in a law firm, Edwards decided the court room career wasn’t for him. Instead, he believed he should be in a classroom as a teacher. Edwards never knew he would be where he is now at the university, but he did know he believed in success and he believed in reaching the top of wherever his teaching career would take him. For one to achieve reaching the top, his journey must start at the bottom.
Edwards returned to UAB for graduate school while continuing to work at the law firm until he went full time at UAB and achieved his master’s degree. After getting married to his wife Kathy and becoming a father to his daughter Emily, Edwards realized that he needed more than a master’s to support his family. Edwards went on to get his PhD at The University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He wrote his dissertation on author Evelyn Scott in only a year while sitting at his old desk that was pushed into the small “office” pantry of the kitchen in apartment 12E.
After living in Tennessee for five years and receiving his PhD, Edwards began his career as a lecturer at The University of West Alabama in Livingston, Alabama where he would only spend a year, but with hopes to return. Edwards accepted a job at The University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, buying his very own first house where he achieved tenure track and was an assistant professor. For five years, Edwards and his family drove eight hours back home to Birmingham every chance to take care of his elderly parents and visit with family with hopes wishes of being able to be closer to family.
After the passing of his mother and he being an only child, Edwards needed to be closer to home in Birmingham for his father. He took a job at Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus, four hours closer to home, where he taught for a year until he was offered a job where his career began–The University of West Alabama. There was no need to think twice for Edwards, nor did he hesitate for a decision. UWA is where he hopes to retire. “There’s just something about this place,” said Edwards, quoting UWA’s old motto. “And for me, it’s the people,” he adds.
Six years after beginning as a lecturer at UWA, Edwards found himself parking in the same parking lot and walking through the same doors he once did when his career started. Since returning to UWA and during the past nine years at UWA, Edwards slowly made his way to the top, holding the positions of associate professor, chair of the Department of Languages and Literature, and dean of the College of Liberal Arts. In March 2014 Edwards assumed the role of Interim Provost, balancing the responsibilities and two positions of dean and provost as well as husband and father at the same time.
Evelyn Scott once wrote, “…a belief which does not spring from a conviction in the emotions is no belief at all.”
In March 2015, Edwards accepted the position of the official Provost at UWA. For Edwards, Provost is probably the highest position he could achieve at the University and something he would have never thought of becoming the first time that he ever walked through the doors at the University of West Alabama. The next stop on his journey would be retirement—but not for a long time. Behind the door labeled “Provost” on the first floor of Webb Hall at The University of West Alabama, Edwards sits at desk in his office, now much bigger than a pantry.