Fluorescent lights brighten the office as they create a warm glow. The coffee smell from the coffee bar is strong, but inviting. The room was calm and quiet, with a big table in the middle waiting to be used. This was the conference room in the honors lounge on the third floor of the Rogers Student Center where Dave Funk advises students. Funk is an artist, teacher and friend.
Funk holds many roles at TJC as the director of the honors program, and an adjunct professor in the art department who teaches a ceramics.
Funk said he has always loved art, but his love for ceramics started from a happy accident.
“I found it quite by accident,” Funk said. Funk originally acquired a degree in graphic design, but realized he wasn’t interested in it. He decided to take a summer ceramics class at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. His professors played a part in developing his love for ceramics.
“These guys are somebody, and it made me want to be better,” Funk said. His teachers at the university he attended were famous in the ceramics world. He explains how the teachers made him want to work harder.
As for the honors program at TJC, there’s many things Funk does for the honors students. He advises their class schedules, helps with classes and more.
“Dave’s role here is to support honors students in any way he can. That comes in the form of advising, building community, helping with classes and helping professors,” Honors Coordinator, Dannika Blackhurst, said. Funk is responsible for interacting with the students and faculty.
“He gets hundreds of emails and calls a day, and he answers them all. He’s here all day, every day; he’s constantly busy. He also goes to tons of meetings,” Honors Intern and Sophomore, Jayla Wroten, said.
Funk’s job as the director of the Honors Program holds many responsibilities.
“Everything that my job entails is mostly to try and help students succeed in the Honors Program, and to help them however they need to be helped is the best way to say it. I don’t try and make them fit the program, I try and make the program fit them, which requires a lot of flexibility,” Funk said.
Something else to note about Funk is his impact on people.
“I’m a super go-getter perfectionist kind of person, and he is always making sure I’m focused on taking care of myself and doing things that are creative and restful,” Blackhurst said. According to Blackhurst, Funk has significantly helped her work-life balance.
Funk doesn’t just have an impact on the people he works with, but he also has an impact on his students. Wroten explains his impact on her.
“He’s made my time at honors a lot more enjoyable. I don’t think I would do any of the things I currently do like PTK or be an intern without Dave. He’s really nice. He challenges me to succeed,” Wroten said. Wroten, who has taken Funk’s ceramics class, said Funk is her favorite professor.
While Funk has had an impression on TJC, the college has also had an impact on him. Funk has worked at TJC since 2009.
“The truest question is ‘How hasn’t it impacted my life for the better?’ If I really think about it, the benefits have been profound. I cannot think of a way that my life here hasn’t been positively impacted,” Funk said. TJC has changed his life, Funk said.
Funk attends many events around campus whether those events are Phi Theta Kappa, honors events or school events.
“This place is great. For instance, my wife and son both love coming. We love to come to the events together here,” Funk said.
Funk says more about why he loves working at TJC.
“I work with such great people. I’m sure other people have had this experience where your work is your work and your home life is your home life, and you don’t necessarily want those to mix because your work life isn’t great. My work life here is fantastic, and I love the people I work with,” Funk said. As the Honors Director, Funk works with many people.
Funk added some of his favorite memories at TJC, which includes awards, students and faculty.
“Once I was nominated for the Endowed Chair for Teaching Excellence Award, but I lost to Carrie Hobbs. I was never more glad to lose to somebody because she’s amazing,” Funk said. According to a tjc.edu/news article, “TJC employees recognized for outstanding service,” the award is given to professors who demonstrate excellence as educators.
“I have now written dozens of letters of recommendation for people who have applied to medical schools and major scholarships,” Funk said.
Funk said helping students is one of his favorite parts of the job. He especially loves how he works with and helps the honors students.
“I love teaching, but I get to work with students in the honors program in such a way. We can occasionally connect past just what is the formal exchange of information, or me helping with advising,” Funk said. Funk mentions he loves being an advocate for his students.
“He’s able to do so much, and has continued to be such a cheerleader,” Blackhurst said.
Funk had never heard about Tyler before coming here, and explained the moment when he knew he wanted to work here. Funk said it was meeting the art faculty and seeing the campus that made him realize he wanted to work at TJC.
“I’ve had a lot of great opportunities here. I know a lot of fantastic people. I’ve worked around some of the smartest people I’ve ever met, which I really love,” Funk said.