Monday, April 30, 2018

Meet Bill Ziegler – Associate Professor - English


Where did you grow up? If not Richmond, how long have you lived here, and what brought you here?
I grew up in one of the small trolley suburbs outside Philadelphia. I’ve lived in Virginia for 32 years and in Fredericksburg since 1990, and I began teaching at Reynolds in 1993. Through it all, I have striven to maintain my hometown credentials: distinctive vowels and a frequently thankless devotion to the Phillies.

You play the cello. When did you start playing? How did you decide on the cello? And, finally, do you play other instruments?
I began playing the cello as a sixth grader, mainly in some hope of making the kind of music I enjoy listening to. Cello was an easy choice; it has range and expressiveness unsurpassed by any other instrument when it’s played well. After college I left it alone for more than 30 years, but I resumed taking lessons about seven years ago. It’s hard to list all the rewards: new connections and insights into the music I love hearing; appreciation for the dedication it takes to master a skill; discovering the talents of colleagues; outlets for emotional expression. Sometimes music says what not even language can.


You are quite knowledgeable about the Reynolds grounds. What got you interested in the environment?
Growing up near a city, we rarely saw more than squirrels and common songbirds, so I’ve loved having a home and a workplace where I can find creatures I used to see only in illustrations. It’s encouraging that even in relatively developed areas we can still find wild things, from raptors to reptiles. Digital cameras let me take lots of photos without the expense of film, and I began showing them off in emails and social media as a way to say, “Isn’t it amazing what we have living around us,” hoping that others will share the appreciation and preserve the diversity of living creatures. Especially the snakes. They mostly mind their own business and get no consideration.

You are getting ready to retire from Reynolds after 25 years, 3 months, two (or three) weeks, and so many hours. What are you planning to do next?
As far as I’m concerned, “planning to do” and “retirement” are mutually contradictory concepts. I haven’t thought past trying to figure how we’ll move seven or more geriatric cats to our new home.

What do you recommend for summer reading for the Reynolds community and why? 
Recommended reading: For leisure, my first choice is the mystery genre, especially series by British writers. But I also read—and highly value, given times as they are—investigative journalism in periodicals such as Harper’s, The Atlantic, and Mother Jones.

Everyone is asked the “lottery question.” If you won the Mega Millions jackpot and had unlimited funds what would you do first?
I avoid big-prize lotteries. I want to avoid the slightest risk of taking responsibility for large sums of money. (A career in the humanities has also minimized that risk).