There is always that one professor that has been around for years, but we do not always know their background and where they came from. Michael Swan, professor of Mass Communications, has taught at Butler for over 20 years. Since Swan was a little kid, he used to watch the news and sports and become invested in staying up to date on the news in the sports world.
“I was kind of a news nerd,” Swan said.
Swan grew up in Ames, Iowa, home of Iowa State, where he attended kindergarten through high school. After high school, he fell in love with Iowa State where he attended college. At Iowa State, Swan received a bachelor’s in journalism, and a master’s in science in journalism and mass communication. After college, Swan went on to teach at four different high schools, and at the fourth school Swan was new to the area, and he later left when the school ran into a bond issue.
Thanks to the internet, Swan learned of an opening at Butler Community College. Shortly after learning about the job opening, he applied and accepted the position. Fast forward over 20 years, Swan received a high honor of 2021-2022 Master Teacher, which recognizes professors that have made an outstanding contribution to the working and learning environment at the college level.
Butler Community College has been Swan’s home for the last 23 years. On top of being a professor, Swan has been married for 30 years to Linda and father to two children aged 28 (son) and age 25 (daughter).
Linda met Mike because they are both in the world of journalism.
“She was walking out of the Mass Comm (Communications) room as I was walking in and I said, ‘Looks like you are doing what I used to do,” Swan said. “That is when we first met and that is how it all got started.”
In Swan’s free time, he enjoys watching the news and many different sports teams on TV and in person. In his younger days, Swan said he used to shoot baskets when he had the chance, but now he enjoys swimming because he does not “want a sumo wrestler body” and likes to stay active. After 23 years of teaching and keeping busy, Swan has decided it is time to retire and hang up his hat, but he will continue to watch the news and stay up to date with mass communication.
Many of Swan’s students, older and younger, know that Swan is more than just a professor or a mentor. He has a passion for his work and for every one of his students.
A student who loves learning and spending time with Swan is Brayden Oneal, a sports media student. The students have a lot of memories working with Swan in his class and outside of his class.
Oneal recalls one fond memory when student sports media would travel to broadcast games.
“Swan was driving us back home and took a wrong turn, and we got lost in Hutch,” Oneal said. “Also, one time he tried driving us while the car was in manual and not drive, so I had to tell him he had to put it in drive for us to get anywhere.”
On top of all the fun they try to have, Swan tries to be neat, on time and meet all the deadlines.
“He’s a ‘on time’ guy,” Oneal said. He likes to have fun, but he can also get serious about getting things done, which is good for his Sports Media Staff because it keeps not only him but all of us motivated to get everything done.”
Without Swan here to advise magazines and sports media, they would not be their organizations that they are now. Many of his students will be lost when Swan retires.
“You can’t just replace Swan, he knows everything, everyone and all the right connections,” Oneal said.
Swan has been at Butler for 23 years now, and as you can imagine, he has made several friends. One person whose life has been changed in a significant way by Swan is Keith West, a co-worker and friend West has worked with Swan since August of 2009 when he started work at Butler as a professor of Mass Communication. Over the years West and Swan have become close friends and have made so many memories together.
“The memories I have with Swan are pretty collective,” West said. “Most memories are from all of our road trips mainly to Iowa to watch Iowa state games.”
If you know Swan, you know that he is one of the biggest Iowa State fans around. He loves to go to all of Iowa State sports games. He has always been invested in sports, especially Iowa State because he grew up in their hometown.
Professors around the world only care about teaching kids and not about how the kids feel or about their personal lives, they just want their students to do the homework, tests, and projects. But not Swan, he is different from your typical professor.
“The greatest feature is that he is devoted to his students,” West said. “He tries to give his students what they need, and he does a darn good job at it. Also, he treats his students with true care; he just cares.”
Everyone who has worked with Swan knows that you are truly a better person, he makes being at college fun. He is devoted to doing his job and has a passion for teaching what it is like in the real world of his profession.
“I’m so lucky to work with Swan,” West said. “He is not just an ‘educator’ but a real educator who went into the real world before he became a professor.”
Prior to working at Butler, Swan has worked as a sports editor of the paper, city advisor and the editor of the local paper, which helped him in many ways.
“It makes it easier to teach if you have already done it in the real world,” Swan said. “It made it a better understanding of what the students are actually going through if you have experienced it firsthand.”
By being a part of several programs and being involved many achievements are possible. From the big to the small milestones, the advisor experienced them all. Of course, there are going to be many failures, but being in the mass communications field, there are so many opportunities to become something bigger. Swan himself has helped lead many students and organizations.
“Picking one achievement that I have accomplished is so hard because I’m proud of all of them,” Swan said. “But one that stands out the most is getting a first-place award at the KBA (Kansas Broadcasters Association) [in] sports board casting (undergraduate/radio sports play-by-play) in 2019. We were up against the big-league schools, and we beat them all.”
In the 23 years, Swan has had so many students come and go, but one student will never forget the memories or how much of an inspiration Swan was. Aaron Sweazy worked with Swan from 1999 to 2000.
There were many memories made that year, but without a doubt, my favorite memory was the long van ride to Garden City football game,” Sweazy said. “They placed us a mile on top of the field and press box in a semi-windy very warm day.”
Everyone knows that Swan is the best at his job no matter the situation. Sweazy was lucky enough to know Swan’s hard and soft side.
“Swan has excitable energy,” Sweazy said. “He brings so much excitement to everything, he will not ‘BS’ you and he will be honest to you. But he does this in a way of high energy that even when constructive, you feel like he is working with you and not tearing you down.”
After this year, Butler will greatly miss Swan and all he has done for not only the school, magazine and sports media but also every single one of his students. He will forever make an impact on many student journalists’ lives as they move on to the next chapter because they will have the knowledge Swan gave them to succeed in this career path.