Professor Lee Jolliffe has experienced a lot. She participated in the Ohio State riots, she survived an unhappy marriage and yet, she still enjoys every day of her life.
When students first enter her office, they are greeted by antique cameras that she bought at an estate sale, as well as two paintings: One is a tapestry-esque butterfly in purple, the other, an impressionist reproduction of flowers. This is the perfect setting for the down-to-earth professor of journalism at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
She has her shoulder length gray hair slicked back in a ponytail while she pours over notes for a book she is writing. When she begins to talk, her blue eyes light up with excitement.
Jolliffe grew up in Circleville, Ohio. Her family moved from Richmond, Va. when she was 7-years-old.
When she was in the fourth grade, Jolliffe wrote her first play, which was based off of school books.
“There were 22 kids, and everyone had a part,” Jolliffe said. Since then, she has always wanted to be a writer.
When she was a teenager, she was influenced by Presidents Johnson and Nixon because she did not like the policies they were making.
“They were starting to draft my friends’ older brothers and send them to Vietnam,” she said. In high school she and her friends began skipping school to go to the riots at Ohio State.
“We never could get very close, because we were skipping school and we didn’t want to go home smelling like tear gas.”
She was emotionally involved and invested in those riots after the Kent State massacre. Even now, about 41 years after the event, Jolliffe is still affected by those events and the memories she formed during that time.
After her time in high school, she attended Lindenwood University, which used to be Lindenwood College, in St. Charles, Mo. She finished up her degree in two years when she was 20. At the end of her first year, she found out her mother had cancer, and that was a major factor in finishing her education.
Even with that, she didn’t miss out on “grand times” in college.
“We had a great time, it was really good,” she said. She even knew Billy Joel while he was an unknown before his hit song “Piano Man.”
While at Lindenwood she became close to a professor, Geannie Fields, and that is when she decided she wanted to be a professor.
“She was a single woman, who didn’t care about being single. She had a boyfriend she lived with in the summer,” Jolliffe said. “She was just so mischievous and so smart, and I felt that life would work for a writer.”
Jolliffe received her master’s degree at Ohio State and doctorate degree at Ohio University.
She said that her most rewarding part of being a professor is teaching students.
Max Cavett is a student that not only has Jolliffe as a teacher, but also as his academic advisor.
“As a professor, she’s an interesting person…Because she has a lot of energy and likes to express herself,” Cavett said. He feels that she has a passion for teaching and knows what she is talking about in a classroom setting.
In her time away from the classroom, Jolliffe helps rescue song birds and collects antique fruit jars.
“The stock market is so unreliable and those (fruit jars) are investments that I have right under my thumb,” Jolliffe said of her antique collection. She was even invited to join the North American Glass Auction.
“Song birds are just pretty much endangered…We’ve lost so many of them, even with the supposed ban of DDT,” she added. “I’m just trying to undo some of the damage humans have done.”
Jolliffe has enjoyed being in her 20s and her 50s the most out of all of her ages. She did not enjoy her 30s due to being in an unhappy marriage.
“I think women are under a lot more pressure to hold a marriage together that isn’t a good one.”
When it comes to music, she enjoys The Who and Led Zeppelin, but not so much the Beatles.
“Their (The Who) music stands the test of time,” she said. “I like it loud.”