Couples on Campus: Professors reminisce on 51 years together


According to Priceonomics, farmers, lawyers and teachers are statistically more likely to marry someone within their profession. So, finding married professors who work together should be no surprise – except that Carol Hayes, English instructor at Gannon University, and Phil Hayes, an adjunct lecturer at Gannon, didn’t plan on becoming professors.
The couple met in high school, and worked together on Phil Hayes’ radio show, which was the first of its kind in his hometown of Portsmouth, Ohio. Hayes said it was the first rock ‘n’ roll station, and the first opportunity students had to request songs on the radio.
“We actually had soap operas on the radio,” Phil Hayes said.
“We never dated or anything, but we knew each other through [radio],” Carol Hayes explained. “Phil already knew he loved radio and that’s how he got acquainted with it.”
The Hayeses grew closer as they traveled to complete their undergraduate degrees. Carol Hayes went to Emory University while Phil went to Ohio State University. Carol Hayes recounted the time Phil visited in his navy uniform over Thanksgiving.
“Phil had joined ROTC and he came up in his uniform, so I was like ‘what?’” Hayes said. “We were never on each other’s campuses.
“So we talked, but we didn’t talk about things on campus — Did we talk about Kennedy? That’s what I love, we’ve talked every day for 51 years, but there’s still things I don’t know about [Phil’s] campus.”
Phil Hayes never went active duty after ROTC, but said his draft notice taught him the most dangerous job in the army was carrying a radio on your back. He also admitted he was a terrible student after his time at Ohio State and attempted to finish his degree in Wisconsin.
“I was really interested in history and I was friends with the faculty so we’d go out together,” Hayes said. The Hayeses spent much of their married life traveling between different jobs and cities, including Detroit and Pittsburgh, before settling in Erie much later.
While living in Arizona, Phil found out about an opening at WICU Erie for a news director and applied.
“I didn’t finish anything,” Hayes said.
“And that’s how we ended up here,” Carol Hayes said, finishing her husband’s story. She said when Phil took the position, she had just started working at a university, so she had planned to stay.
“We always moved together, but I wasn’t going to come this time,” she said. The couple had made various moves throughout their careers working in media – Phil Hayes in radio and Carol Hayes in newspapers. Phil Hayes said his job in Pittsburgh allowed Carol to take classes at the University of Pittsburgh, but after moving to Detroit, she completed her master’s degree.
Although she said they planned to spend some time apart this time, Carol’s first visit to Erie had her sold. Carol Hayes said she drove to all four campuses in Erie, dropping off her portfolio and resume.
Edinboro University called her the next day with a job offer.
“You know how they always talk about holding the receiver out in movies,” Hayes said. “I actually did that, like ‘say that again?”
At that point, the Hayeses decided to stay in Erie and rented an apartment overlooking the bay where they could watch the sunrise and sunset, Carol Hayes said.
“After she [Carol] came to here, talk of tuition remission came about, and I finished my degree,” Phil Hayes said.
He said he received his Master of Public Administration in as little time possible, even though he refused to walk for fear he did not pass his statistics class. Hayes ended up receiving a B.
Before he started sharing an office with his wife at Gannon, Hayes had the chance to teach at Mercyhurst North East, where he taught composition classes.
Soon enough, there was an opening at Gannon that Phil Hayes applied for, and the two have been teaching their own classes ever since.
“I really like it,” Phil Hayes said. “Carol and I talk often about our students – not by name, because we don’t know all their names and we don’t share students – but we share experiences our students have.”
Carol Hayes said they made a pastime of grading papers—clearing off the dining room table and giving each other pointers. She said they notice their students express worry about not having a clear plan laid out for the future, but the Hayeses don’t believe in planning for everything.
“We never had a clue about where we’d end up,” Carol Hayes said. “Our lives are examples of how you can make it for decades without a plan in mind.”


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