Critz lives in West Point, Mississippi. He is an Associate Professor at Mississippi State University.
What years were you a core student?
1994-1996, I think. . . Leslie may be right. When was the O.J. Simpson stuff??
Who were you a core student with?
Leslie Noell, Julie Oehlerking Decaen, Ila Prouty, John Neff, and (Big) John Rennick. We joined Karen Newgard, Shawn Ireland, and Kim Purser. Our second year we were joined by Jana Harper, Dave Wofford, and Jake Chamberlain.
Are you still in touch with any of your fellow core students?
The ones living near Penland.
What was your best moment as a core student?
When Dave TV stole my clothes and only pair of boots and showed up as me to the Halloween Party. I was out of my mind looking for those damn boots. And, of course, the learning moments of “oh that’s how you do that!” I had lots of those.
What was your worst?
Losing John Neff a few months after our Core group left the mountain and returning for his funeral was tough. John’s talent was like white heat.
What is your favorite spot on campus?
I love that steep curve just before you see Ridgeway driving up the mountain. Must be from driving suburbans up that hill so many times. That spot gives me goose bumps when I go back.
What was your favorite meal at the Pines?
What was your least favorite?
Eggplant Parm... OMG, I sliced and salted a lot of eggplant in the kitchen. I still can’t eat the stuff.
Do you still have anything that you made as a core student? Or anything that you traded for?
Several things I traded for, a few things I made.
What class you took had the most impact on you? Did you realize it at the time?
This is a tough one... many, honestly. Now, as a professor I recall the poise and grace of Robert Turner more than most. Plus I am in awe of his life’s work.
Is there something that you learned in the core program that you never expected to learn?
Accepting help and being part of a codependent group was a big lesson for me... still something I struggle with, but I learned a lot by working with a group and accepting others' food, beer, laundry detergent, bathroom schedule, lovers, etc., etc.
Tell us about someone you met through the core program who you'll never forget?
Wow, just one??? Clarence Morgan.
What are you doing today?
Today I finished and submitted to colleagues my first Fulbright Proposal. . . Wish me luck!
Fill in the blank: If I had never been a core student I truly cannot imagine what I would be doing. So much of my current life is supported by my experience as a core student and what I learned at Penland.
You can visit Critz's website at