Everyone has a story, and Prof. Walter Dutton’s main focus in his GEW 101 courses is to help students understand their own stories. He uses college writing as a way for students to grow in self-awareness in order to help them find their place in society. He believes in the power of the written word and wants students to grow in the knowledge of words and their use in writing to best communicate in a world where language is simplified rather than creatively explored.
Just as each student has a story, Prof. Dutton has a vast and varied story of his own. Having grown up in Southern California, Prof. Dutton enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1966 and served two tours in the Vietnam War as an air traffic controller. Upon his honorable discharge from the Air Force in 1973, he became a law enforcement officer in both the Imperial County Sheriff’s Dept. and city Police Dept., where he worked patrol, investigations and then undercover in narcotics until 1979. After his years in law enforcement, he attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law where he received his Juris Doctorate (JD) in 1980. He also holds an associate degree, a baccalaureate of law and has pursued continuing education in the fields of psychology and neurology and, of course, his CSUSM M.A. in Literature & Writing. His thesis was more than 300 pages and focused upon how brain injured persons can use story to recover memories and their selves.
Prof. Dutton has had many professional accomplishments: he served several years as a deputy public defender in California before going into private practice. Within his 30 years as a legal professional, he taught criminal justice courses at Palomar Community College. Prof. Dutton literally wrote the textbook, which is still in circulation in criminal justice courses, but he has also written many legal articles, eleven legal topic books, as well as many fiction and nonfiction works.
A recent field of study for Walter is Genealogy, which he shares with his students as a focus of their GEW writing assignments. He shares his own genealogy from an ancestor who traveled to the New World before and one who was on the Mayflower to his two daughters and six grandchildren. His oldest daughter has a Ph.D. in Communications and Special Education, a M.S. in Communications with a double major in Special Education from CSU, Northridge, and is raising four children, the eldest of whom just began his upper education at the University of Michigan. The younger daughter earned her M.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology at CSUSM, teaches here and at area colleges. She is raising two children. Dutton is a service-connected disabled veteran and his daughters were able to take advantage of California’s veterans benefit which paid for their tuition and other fees through age twenty-seven.
As a life-long learner, Prof. Dutton says, “I love to teach. It is a lot like trying a case before a jury.” He takes a personal interest in each of his students, citing, “I have developed wonderful friendships with many of my former students as they graduated and moved on into the business world or their chosen careers.” As a teacher of first-year students, Prof. Dutton enjoys the opportunity to engage students in forms of writing and thinking that they have not previously considered. Prof. Dutton has a great passion for writing and the unforeseen rewards that accompany this difficult task. Dutton professes his enjoyment as a life-long student, taking at least one college or university level course every semester. He simply loves learning.