Personal Trivia!

Mark R. Leary

I think that students sometimes have difficulty seeing their professors as real people. Because they typically see us in only one role, students forget that we were once young too -- that we've done some pretty stupid things, had our share of successes and failures, and are more-or-less like ordinary people.

Here are some useless facts about my personal life:

Background... I was born in Morgantown, West Virginia. My dad (Ed) is a retired electrician, my mom (Eleanor) owned a day care center, and my younger brother (Dale) owns a hair-styling business and a retro furniture store. They all live in Elkins, West Virginia.

Family... My wife, Wendy McColskey, has her Ph.D. in Educational Research and Program Evaluation from Ohio State University, is an avid tennis player, and is a program director for the SouthEast Regional Vision for Education (SERVE). I have two sons -- Kevin is completing his Ph.D. in developmental psychology at North Carolina State University, and Collin is completing a master's degree in criminology, with plans to go into police work.

Places I've lived... West Virginia, Maryland, Florida, Ohio, Texas, North Carolina

Jobs I've had... My first part-time job in high school was as a stock boy in a women's clothing store .... My favorite part-time job was as a disc jockey at WDNE Radio, where I worked part-time and summers during high school and college .... I've also worked at a day care center, as Santa Claus for a department store, and as a drummer in rock and soul bands. Oh yeah, I've also been a college professor.

The most trouble I got into in school... Was for driving my Volkswagen bus around the muddy high school track to take my drum set to the football field to practice for a half-time show. I left 3-inch deep ruts all around the track and spent several afternoons repairing the surface.

The worst fight I had with my brother growing up... is a tie between the time he shot me in the back with a B-B gun and the time he threw an ax at me. I don't remember what either incident was about, but I'm sure that neither one was my fault.

Most embarrassing incident as a child... in 4th grade, my pants split from just below the zipper in the front to just below the waist in the back and more-or-less fell off.

Most traumatic experience... being beaten up by a bunch of drunk rednecks when I was in 8th grade.

Some memorable experiences:

  • Touring Romania with the West Virginia Wesleyan College jazz band during the summer of 1973, including a performance for then-president Nicolae Ceausescu at the Presidential Palace. (Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, were executed during a revolution in 1989. I've heard that his last words were "My only wish is that I could hear the American band again.")
  • Lying with two friends under the full moon on the 50-yard-line of Duke University's football stadium in the middle of the night (1976)
  • Running the Columbus, Ohio Marathon (1982)
  • Hanging out backstage with Chicago and the Doobie Brothers during a concert in Nashville (1999)

My most famous student... Tim Duncan, NBA star with the San Antonio Spurs, was a psychology major at Wake Forest when I taught there. He took my research methods class, worked with me on research, and co-authored a book chapter with me (Leary, M. R., Bednarski, R., Hammon, D., & Duncan, T. (1997). Blowhards, snobs, and narcissists: Interpersonal reactions to excessive egotism. In R. M. Kowalski (Ed.), Aversive interpersonal behaviors. New York: Plenum.)

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