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Steve Haskins behind a book.

Steve Haskin meets his desire to continue learning with the U's Compleat Scholar Program.

Save a seat for the ?ber Scholar

Published on September 30, 2005

While most adults return to the University to complete their education or to achieve their career objectives, there are those who come back solely because they enjoy learning. With 24 Compleat Scholar courses under his belt, Steve Haskin qualifies as one of those individuals.

Since 1994, Haskin has indulged himself in courses about quasars, birds, philosophy, watercolors, Cezanne, German Expressionists, and the Stieglitz Circle. At this point, he would appear primed for an appearance on "Jeopardy." But with his many hobbies and interests, Haskin is simply a man who embodies the adage "Variety is the spice of life."

The Oklahoma native earned a B.A. in English from the University of Tulsa, then moved to the Twin Cities and became a freelance musician. Later, he earned an M.F.A. in writing at Hamline. He's a published poet and freelance journalist, and he teaches guitar at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. As a musician, he has released two solo CDs and another with his group Trio Tipo.

Yet, he still finds time to take Compleat Scholar courses. His favorites have been the ornithology courses, which gave rise to a new passion.

"My interest in birds began during a trip to Africa in 1990," says Haskin, "but the Compleat Scholar courses introduced me to some areas in Minnesota that I wouldn't have discovered on my own, such as the Louisville Swamp, part of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Later, I became a volunteer for the Refuge."

Fall 2005 lineup

Each semester, topics in the Compleat Scholar program run the gamut from the wines of Spain to biomedical ethics. This fall, it's no different. Courses with October and November start dates include The Coming Winter, Travel Photography, and World War II: A Social History.

Compleat Scholar offerings are typically two-hours long and one weekday evening, four times a month. Tuition varies depending on the length of the course.

To learn more, call 612-624-4000 or visit the College of Continuing Education.

Haskin credits the course The Natural History and Biology of Owls for turning him onto owls. "Owls are exciting because they're hard to spot," he says. "You find them in deciduous trees near water. Almost anywhere along the Minnesota River Valley, you can walk through the forest and find them. They're very well camouflaged in the trees but as you approach them, they'll fly away from you and you'll see them. If you're even luckier, they'll land in a place where you can observe them."

The writing and poetry courses also have had a major impact on Haskin. He raves about Poems and Dreams and The Art of the Short Poem, both taught by Michael Dennis Brown.

Still, you have to wonder--after taking more than 20 Compleat Scholar courses, what keeps Haskin coming back?

"The courses are informal, so you don't have to worry about grades," says Haskin. "The instructors are always excellent. The class size is small. The diversity of the courses is wonderful, and they're not at all expensive.... For me, [learning is] just part of my lifestyle and something I have to do."

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