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Apryl Denny
’The students are fabulous’: Denny treasures long Viterbo career 
Carter Steger, Editor • November 16, 2023

’The students are fabulous’: Denny treasures long Viterbo career 

Apryl Denny
Apryl Denny

After 31 years in Viterbo’s English department, Professor Apryl Denny will retire this December. Denny focused her research and expertise on 19th century literature like Charles Dickens and women’s studies. This led to publishing papers and a book early on in her academic career that required her to complete research in England. Despite still enjoying writing papers, researching, and reading books, Denny is ready to close her chapter as a professor.  


Not everyone discovers what they are passionate about right away. For Denny, it was as early as elementary school. “First grade I remember my mother told me that her” favorite novel was ‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I asked, ‘Can I read that?’ She said, ‘Oh, no, no, it’s too hard for you.’ I read it over the summer, and there were lots of words I couldn’t understand. I followed my mother around asking her constantly what certain words meant,” says Denny.  


This led her to pursue an undergraduate degree in English from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. “I was supposed to graduate in the fall of my senior year, all I had left was student teaching. I was supposed to teach one class; it was just a few weeks, and as I went out, I thought, ‘This is not what I want to do.’ I went back to one of my professors; he wasn’t even my advisor because he was the chair at the time, and I asked about graduate school,” says Denny.  Rather than student teach, she immediately pursued a master’s of English at the same university. Eventually, she would move to Colorado and study at the University of Colorado Boulder for her doctorate.  


While in the doctoral program, Denny was invited to assist one of the professor’s research and write the final book in a 30-volume collection. The collection is on William Wordsworth and the study of how poetic composition works.  “I started going every year to Grasmere, England, to work on the book. “Our job was to first get every single manuscript of every poem that Wordsworth wrote during that period. Then compare the manuscripts to find hidden poems that he had thought of and finished at some time in the history of composition,” says Denny. 


After completing her doctoral program, Denny was faced with two opportunities: the first was as a professor for two years at the university of Colorado, while the second was as a tenure track appointment at Viterbo. Denny says, “I’ve always wondered what would have happened if I’d taken the two-year track, but you always do wonder.”  


Over the course of 31 years at Viterbo, the students were one factor that helped keep away doubts about whether Viterbo was the right choice. Denny says, “The students are fabulous in the sense that they work really hard and care about their education. You make connections with them that I’m not sure I would have made in the other job. That’s what energizes you.” 


For such a long career filled with unique opportunities staying energized is important. “I think it’s the Franciscan ethic that makes this environment a great place to work and have a career. I have been very happy through the 31 and a half years that I’ve been teaching here,” says Denny. But it wasn’t the students and environment alone that made her experience great: “You could not ask for better colleagues. I think that’s the main reason that people stay here, the overall community,” says Denny.  


After finishing the semester, she aims to retire. She plans on staying in the area and is looking forward to being able to replace answering emails with reading time. Denny said she chose this career, “because I wanted to write, and I wanted to read.” Though she is closing her chapter as a professor, her story as a writer is far from over.  





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About the Contributor
Carter Steger, Editor
As an English-Education major, writing has always been enjoyable for me.
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