Arts & Humanities

Robert King Announces Retirement After 43 Years at USU Tooele

By Marcus Jensen |

Jenn Cowburn, associate vice president for USU Tooele, poses for a photograph with Robert King. King is retiring after 43 years teaching at USU Tooele.

TOOELE, Utah — Robert King, lecturer in the Department of English in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Utah State University, has announced his retirement. King is retiring after serving for 43 years at the USU Tooele campus.

“I have enjoyed helping post-traditional students, and helping build up a statewide campus in Tooele,” King said. “I have loved to see the growth of Statewide Campuses. By educating local citizens in fields such as nursing, special education, social work, et al., they are likely to stay and serve in their local communities.”

A native of the Astoria, Queens, New York, King has had a love for education his entire life. Upon entering Dartmouth College in 1967 as a first-generation college student, King simply never left higher education. He viewed his time in college as a challenging yet transformational experience.

“Higher education, including critical thinking skills and in the virtues that make for good citizens, is crucial to an open and progressive democracy,” he said.

His fascination for the American West brought him to Western Washington University, where he earned a master’s degree in English in 1977. He completed his doctorate degree in American Studies from the University of Utah in 2005, writing his dissertation on the literature of the American Southwest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

After graduating with a master’s degree, King would find himself in Tooele, joining USU as an adjunct faculty member in 1981. In 1990, he became a full-time faculty member and helped the Tooele campus during its expansion into distance education.

"Bob King is a USU Tooele icon,” said Jenn Cowburn, associate vice president for USU Tooele. “There are very few students, staff and community members who have not had the pleasure of attending one of Bob's English classes. He has changed the lives of countless people. Bob is one of the most intelligent people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. His humor is unmatched and so thoughtful, we often don't get the joke until he has left the room, and then the laughter ensues. Bob is kind, brilliant and will be missed on campus. May you find half as much joy in this next adventure as you have given us in Tooele."

King first worked as an assistant director for the campus while also teaching courses. During his more than four decades working at USU Tooele, King has taught courses in both English and American Studies. He impacted the lives of countless individuals, some of whom he now works with at the campus.

“Bob is a great professor who inspires all his students,” said Kimberly Sullivan, a former student and current business services assistant at USU Tooele. “I was lucky enough to be one of those students. He made learning fun and always motivated me to do my best and to think outside the box. I was also lucky enough to work with Bob as staff at USU Tooele. He always says hello and has a smile on his face or a joke to tell.”

King will also be remembered for his patience and willingness to go the extra mile to help students learn and grow.

“If ever a student needed extra guidance on how to write a paper, or if their life was so crazy busy but they were determined to go to school to complete their degree, I would recommend Dr. King’s classes,” said Teresa Lemmon, USU Tooele academic adviser. “He would work with students on getting their work in and teach them about responsibility and communication. He always had positive feedback for students on how to improve their writing skills to help them in future classes. Dr. King always includes everyone and makes time to talk to whoever needs to talk to him. He always has a story to tell and a philosophical statement to share.”

Located in the valley of the Oquirrh Mountains, Utah State University Tooele offers students the personalized attention and small class sizes of a small-town college with the resources of a large university. With degree options ranging from associate to doctorate degrees, plus technical education offerings, USU Tooele offers programs that help fuel local economies and empower individuals and their communities. Learn more at


Marcus Jensen
News Coordinator
University Marketing and Communications


Jennifer Cowburn
Associate Vice President
USU Tooele
(435) 797-8463


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