Dr. Aton Retires After 40 Years at SUU

Published: May 08, 2020 | Author: Savannah Byers | Read Time: 3 minutes

Dr. Jim Aton Retires From SUUDr. James Aton is retiring after 40 years of teaching in the English Department at Southern Utah University. During his 40 years at SUU, Dr. Aton has accomplished and contributed immensely to the school.

Dr. Aton is from Louisville, Kentucky. He earned his B.A. in English from Spring Hill College in 1971, his M.A. in English from the University of Kentucky in 1977, and his Ph.D. in American Literature from Ohio University in 1981. He began teaching at SUU in 1980 and will end his time at SUU this spring 2020. During his time at SUU, he has taught classes in Writing, Mythology, American Studies, and Continental European Literature.

“Jim Aton has been a driving force in the English Department for years and we will certainly miss him (and be a bit jealous of him) as he retires,” said Dr. Jean Boreen, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “He has inspired so many students through his teaching, even as he has educated many of us about Utah and the American Southwest through his scholarship, much of which has resulted in books and presentations at the regional and national level.”

Dr. Aton has published seven books, so far, exploring a variety of subjects. Most recently he published The Crimson Cowboys: The Remarkable Odyssey of the 1931 Claflin-Emerson Expedition, with Jerry D. Spangler. His book, The Art and Life of Jimmie Jones: Landscape Artist of the Canyon Country, captures Jimmie Jones, whose art is featured in the permanent collection at SUMA.

Dr. Aton’s other books include Jim Jones: The San Blas Years, John Wesley Powell: His Life and Legacy, The River Knows Everything: Desolation Canyon and the Green (with Dan Miller), River Flowing from the Sunrise: An Environmental History of the Lower San Juan (with Robert S. McPherson), and John Wesley Powell.

“Dr. Aton pointed out all the best lines of the stories we read,” said Brooke Purtill, an English major who has enjoyed two of Dr. Aton’s courses. “He loves the opening line of Crane’s “The Open Boat,” which I will never forget is ‘None of them knew the color of the sky,’ and he is especially fond of the last line of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises: ‘Isn’t it pretty to think so?’ He always made us aware of the amount of power and beauty that can exist in a single sentence, and his excitement about it was infectious. Now, I can’t help but adore these quotes and the stories they’re derived from, too.”

SUU honored Dr. Aton over the years for his dedicated service. His awards from SUU include Outstanding Scholar for the 2017-2018 and 2009-2010 academic years, Trustees Award of Excellence in 2011, Distinguished Faculty Lecture in 1988, 2001, 2009, and 2019, Sigma Tau Delta’s Professor of the Year in 2007, and Distinguished Educator of the Year in 1994. Dr. Aton has also twice been a Fulbright Lecturer and twice earned grants from the National Endowment for Humanities.

“I know I speak for all of his colleagues in thanking him for his many years of excellence here at SUU and wishing him the very best in his retirement,” said Dr. Boreen.

SUU thanks Dr. Aton for his years of dedicated service. Learn more about the English Department at SUU.

Tags: College of Humanities and Social Sciences English

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