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Friday, June 21, 2024
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Gregg Ivers’ resume is cooler than yours

The career path from Sheryl Crow’s opener to SPA professor

Comic, musician, baker and hockey coach are just some of the job titles that Gregg Ivers, a professor in the School of Public Affairs, has had over the years. With such a lengthy and unique resume, there’s not much that Ivers hasn’t done under his motto that “life is for living.”

Ivers sat down for a conversation with The Eagle on a Saturday afternoon in March to discuss his life with homemade cronuts from Breads Unlimited, where he worked, in hand. He shared why he’s tried so many jobs and how he finds joy in each of them. 

“Do you want to do the same thing over and over? No, it's not interesting,” Ivers said. “Some people find doing the same thing over and over again really interesting, right? I don't.”

He added that “no one's too good to do anything,” as he discussed the importance of a person’s work.

“There's no difference between somebody sweeping a floor, working as a barista, or running a Fortune 100 company or being the president of a university, right?” Ivers said. “It's all work and you’re getting paid for it, and you're not better than anybody.”

During his over 34 years as a faculty member in SPA, he launched the Julian Bond Oral History Project, a collection of interviews Ivers conducted of people’s “relationship with and impressions of Julian Bond,” the late civil rights activist and AU adjunct professor who passed away in 2015. 

He has also created another YouTube channel, Hidden Civil Rights History, a series of photo essays and videos where Ivers shares the history of the Greyhound “Freedom Rides” Bus Terminal, the Brown v. Board of Education decision by the Supreme Court and other historical events. 

After a leave of absence last semester due to a cancer diagnosis, he is teaching two classes this semester: “Jazz & the Civil Rights Movement” and “Honors Colloquium: Athlete as Political Activist.” His classes are in such high demand that as of April 18, his fall semester “Southern Civil Rights Movement” class has a waitlist of 17 students. He was even named the 2024 Outstanding Teaching in a Full-Time Appointment Award (Tenure).

The owners of Breads Unlimited and Edith’s Pizza, both located in Bethesda, Maryland became friends with Ivers. What started out as a joke to work at the food stops for a full day soon turned into a reality. With a training badge, apron and baker’s hat, Ivers stepped out of the classroom and learned how to make batter, Irish soda bread and more.

“And my baking had been limited, to that point, to reading the back of a Betty Crocker box,” Ivers added. 

But cooking isn’t his only creative outlet. Ivers also plays the drums.

His band, Zeebop, recorded an album “Twisted Standards” in 2009 at the recording studio on campus, and has even performed at graduation held in Katzen and other local events.

From 2012 to 2015, Ivers also served as the director of hockey for his son’s local high school.

“It was interesting to sometimes hear the reaction of other professionals in my field that ‘You've coached a hockey team? Oh, really? Why would you do that?’” Ivers said. “Because it's fun.”

But Ivers says, of all these positions, his favorite job continues to be teaching. 

“I have the best job in the world,” Ivers said. “Once I started doing this, I knew that this is exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to teach. It does not bother me to stand in front of people,” adding how this has helped him in another career of his — improv. 

Ivers has taken classes at D.C. Improv and “occasionally do[es] stand up for private audiences.” He explained that humor has been an important portion of his life, specifically that “humor will go a long way towards getting you through” anything. 

His stand up has a long history, as he has even performed before singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow, who was a music education major at the time at the University of Missouri, during an open mic night in his final years of college. 

He said his dream job is a baseball commissioner, but for now he can be found teaching his classes in his full Atlanta Braves uniform on MLB’s opening day, while enjoying his favorite job position yet.

“The beauty of being a professor and being a professional academic is that you have the ability to reinvent yourself, whenever and however you want to,” Ivers said.

This article was edited by Kathryn Squyres, Tyler Davis and Abigail Turner. Copy editing done by Luna Jinks and Isabelle Kravis. 

As the semester comes to an end and one of the founding members leaves American University, Section 202 has decided to take a trip down memory lane. For our fans, old and new, who are wondering how Section 202 came to be, this episode is a must. Listen along as hosts Connor Sturniolo and Liah Argiropoulos reminisce about the beginning of Section 202 and how it got to where it is now.

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