Dr. Jeffrey DeLotto, professor of English at Texas Wesleyan for 25 years, proves to be a man of many worlds. Some would say he lives a double life as a professor, husband, writer and traveler.

Most of his students can’t even begin to imagine the man behind the desk as anything more than a professor. Neither can they see him climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or hitch hiking for fun. But little do they know, he comes from a far- from- average background.

DeLotto said he has traveled within the Middle East, including places such as Syria, Israel, Egypt and Jordan, where he taught.

“I lived in Bulgaria for a year. Other than Egypt, I also went to Tanzania and stayed there for a while,” DeLotto said. “I tried climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, I was not successful. I’ve also traveled most of the European countries, as well as Mexico and Canada. So I’ve been around.”

DeLotto was born in Virginia and grew up in South Florida. As a kid, DeLotto often found himself in the principal’s office, and soon after finishing high school was sent to military school.

DeLotto was a writer before he even knew it. He had an art and eye for detail at a very young age from his experience as a child and much further on.

“I was a pretty bad kid, and sometimes I was willfully bad, and because of that I was frequently disciplined by my parents and my school. A number of times in elementary school, I was put outside of the classroom,” DeLotto said. “While I was out there, I had an inquisitive mind, so I found myself looking at the texture of the insulation or the texture of the paint, or the concrete, and even a trail of ants. I think it developed in me an appreciation for minute detail. I think it probably started the development in me as a poet and a writer.”

Although DeLotto spends most of his time as a professor and a father, his creative mind is explored by his poetry and writing.

“Sometimes I write because I am inspired,” DeLotto said. “Early on I wrote because I wanted to express myself. I think most frequently I write because I can. Most of my classes know this. I don’t like writing. I enjoy when someone else gets something meaningful from my writing. The actual act itself is not that fun.”

DeLotto said part of being a writer is reading, and his mother encouraged him to read anything.

“I probably didn’t read what I was supposed to read in school, but by age 11 or 12, I was reading James Bond novels to westerns then historical novels,” DeLotto said. “It developed in me a savoring of the life of the imagination. It was a fairly easy step to go from that to writing.”

While pursuing his college career, DeLotto said he dropped out at one point.

“When I dropped out of college I was sort of lost. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do,” DeLotto said. “I started traveling a lot, hitch hiking and I met various people in various professions.”

DeLotto said he discovered writing to be meaningful to him at the age of 19.

“So I started doing some of my own writing to express myself,” DeLotto said. “That was the first time that I really went to writing something that was meaningful for me to produce.”

DeLotto said this was the reason he went back to college. He wanted to learn different viewpoints in the world.
DeLotto received his bachelor’s degree at Florida University and his doctorate in British literature at Florida State University.

DeLotto said he enjoys being a professor, especially within the English department.

“People pay me a reasonable amount of money to tell them what I believe to be the truth, and that’s a pretty wonderful position to have,” DeLotto said. “The truth about writing or what I consider to be beauty or whatever. They pay me to say what I believe to be true.”

Bailey Williams, junior psychology major, said she enjoys taking DeLotto’s classes.

“I think he is really involved. Sometimes I feel like I never know what he’s going to say or do next,” Williams said. “He is very easy to pay attention to. Usually I can’t pay attention in some of my classes, but I can in his.”

Catherine Bentley, junior psychology major, said DeLotto is the only English teacher she really likes.

“I like how he gives us freedom on what we can write about,” Bentley said. “He applies a lot of these skills to where you would use them in the workforce.”

-Rolandra West

rdwest@txwes.edu