Some professors impress students inside the classroom, and others make their mark by giving to students after classes have ended. Professor Emeritus Twitty J. Styles, who taught biology at Union from 1965 to 1997, did both.
To pay tribute to their beloved teacher and mentor, Trustees Fred Pressley Jr. '75 and Estelle Cooke-Sampson '74 helped establish the Twitty J. Styles Scholarship in 2003.
“He was not only a fabulous professor,” said Pressley, “but he was instrumental in encouraging students to pursue the sciences. People respected him and looked up to him.”
It was well-known that Styles' commitment to students continued long after each of his classes was dismissed. At biology club meetings, on field trips and during the countless meals he and his wife, Constance, shared with students at his home, he repeated this message.
“I always told them, ‘Stay with it, you can do the work, put your studies first, and do what you're capable of doing,' says Styles. “They needed to know that someone cared about them and somebody wanted them to succeed. That's what I've tried to convey all these years.”
Pressley, an attorney, and Cooke-Sampson, a physician, are just two of many Union undergraduates who have treasured and valued Styles' guidance over the years.
Styles, who received the Faculty Meritorious Service Award from the Alumni Council for his many years of teaching and guiding pre-med and biology students, has been invited to some 20 graduate school commencements and about half as many weddings. He also continues to receive a steady stream of family photos and friendly phone calls from those whose lives he's touched.
Some former students have contributed to the Styles scholarship, given annually to students, especially biology majors, with financial need.
He adds this plug for giving: More former students and other alumni should kick in funds “so that my spirit and what I want for my students will live on even after I'm gone.
“The best measure of a professor's success is how a student feels about you,” he says. ‘Your student is your final product. They and their success are the final judges of who you are and what you did for them.”