University Mourns English Professor

MU English Professor Passes 51

David J. Tietge, Ph.D., a beloved professor of 15 years and respected colleague at Monmouth University, passed away at the age of 51 on Nov. 28. This comes as a shock to those who knew him.

Tietge’s influence on the entire community at Monmouth is easily seen, but it is within the quiet corridors of the English department building where his presence was most known. His door was covered with newspaper clippings, cartoons, and other images, all giving a small snapshot of his humor and personality.

Inside his office, everything is gathered neatly around his desk. There is a guitar in the corner of the room, a baseball resting in a cup, and various books stacked next to each other. “Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge” sits comfortably next to Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.”

The desk sports a half-finished bottle of soda sitting next to a coffee travel mug. The chair is well-worn and leans against the wall next to an air conditioner and a boarded-up window. The office is well-lived in, and has character in every inch of it.

Tietge focused on the various rhetoric of theory, science, and popular culture. He published three books and had articles in numerous journals. As the Director of First-Year Composition, he was responsible for many of the changes currently present in those courses today, making the course more streamlined and accessible to new students.

“He had a really in-depth knowledge of critical and literary theory that put him on equal standing with any of the literature professors in our department,” said J.P. Hanly, Associate Director of First Year Composition, an assistant professor of English, and a close colleague of Tietge.

“He was someone that I felt would support me and push me to be my best, so I was glad to come and work with someone like that,” Hanly said. “He made courses good for students and good for professors to teach.”

Outside of his classes, Tietge was fond of music, the outdoors, astronomy, and a variety of other topics. His widespread personal interests were only rivaled by his professional ones, creating the image of a modern renaissance man, someone who knew a little bit about everything and a lot about certain things.

Today, he is remembered by both students and faculty.

“He’s had really a tremendous impact, and a lot of students have said life-changing,” said Susan Goulding, Ph.D., Chair of the English Department. “He was very committed to liberal arts, higher education and humanism. We have this collective commitment that we shared with him, and to teaching the liberal arts, and that is very helpful to us.”

Tietge’s influence was most clearly seen through his relationships with his students, in which he constantly fought to improve the first year composition courses, where most students would have their first experience with the liberal arts at Monmouth.

“Dr. Tietge was without a doubt one of the smartest minds I have encountered in my time at Monmouth,” said Matthew Yard, a senior English student. “I will always remember him for his willingness to stay late after class and continue conversations on literature, films, or just about any other topic we were interested in.”

Madison Hlavach, a senior English and secondary education student said, “Throughout my entire undergraduate career, I have been lucky enough to take multiple classes with Dr. Tietge: College Composition, Art of Persuasion, Literary Studies, and Criticism and Theory. It was a privilege to be one of his students in each of his classes as his insights immersed me and introduced me to the world of rhetorical, compositional, and pedagogical studies that I have become so passionate about today.”

“Without him, my college studies would have never been so rich and fulfilling. Being an English/secondary education student, I am thankful to have been his student; he has helped me recognize the type of educator I aspire to be come graduation: one who awakens the minds of my students,” she continued.

Tietge’s vision of making the liberal arts as accessible and impactful as possible will be carried on by the people he had touched in his life. In remembering him, those who think fondly of Tietge should find comfort in the passion he lived with every day of his life, and should seek to live their own with a similar vigor. 

Born in Iowa City, Tietge grew up in Long Branch before moving to the Atlantic Highlands four years ago. He is survived by his daughter Carlie Anne Tietge, and her mother, Katherine Leigh Tietge, alongside his parents and sister Erica. Carlie graduated from Monmouth this past spring. He had gotten to see her walk.

Donations may be made in his memory to the Dr. David J. Tietge Memorial Scholarship.