Kind of a big Deal

Todd Deal with Brutus Buckeye, the mascot of the Ohio State University. the Deal went to Ohio State to become a pharmaceutical chemist.

McClain Baxley

It isn’t uncommon for Georgia Southern University professors to work on or take part in more than just one subject or one class.

It is, however, quite rare for a professor to leave an incredible legacy in totally different colleges, while being the Voice of the Eagles on the side.

But, Todd Deal did just that though. He went from being an award-winning and published chemistry professor to being the executive director of the Office of Leadership and Community Engagement, but still the public address announcer for both football and baseball games.

Born and raised in Statesboro, Steven Todd Deal attended GS with intentions of being a pre-med student.

“I didn’t really care what I majored in,” Deal said, when his advisor recommended he become a chemistry major. “I just wanted to go to medical school.”

So Deal entered GS as a chemistry major, but it wasn’t until his second year that he became truly interested in chemistry, specifically organic chemistry.

“The creativity involved in organic chemistry coupled with the analytical thought and ability to build molecules from smaller particles was absolutely fascinating to me,” Deal said.

At the same time that his interest in the first chapter of his career was formulating, another sector of Todd’s influential career was kicking off.

While still attending Statesboro High School, Deal worked at Wendy’s fast food restaurant.

“One day when I was taking a guy’s order in the drive thru, the man pulled to the window and asked if I had ever thought of doing radio,” Deal said. “I then worked at the local radio station for six and a half years.”

This is where his part-time passion for PA announcing took shape.

But, his chemistry-minded self still wanted to pursue a career in the medical field.

After graduating from GS with a chemistry degree, Deal went to Ohio State to become a pharmaceutical chemist and they were top five in the country.

It was in Columbus, Ohio that Deal’s passion and profession for teaching was discovered in one of his summer classes where the students had to give lectures.

During one of the lectures, Deal’s professor applauded his presentation and asked if he could use it as an example for future lectures.

“It was one of those epiphany lessons,” Deal said. “And it was literally, ‘This is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life.’”

Deal started his teaching career at many small schools where he strengthened both his skills leading a classroom and his skills in the press box.

“I went out one day and saw the baseball team practicing,” Deal said. “Afterwards I asked the coach…if there’s anyone who does PA for you?”

Deal explained that baseball was his game and that 1990 season he got to travel with the team taking stats and calling the games “behind the backstop with a microphone and a little amplifier.”

Impact on students

It was in 1992 when Deal began teaching at his alma mater. Just two years later, he was named Georgia Southern Professor of the Year, his first of many honors at GS.

“You spoke words of encouragement over me that day that gave me the confidence that I needed to one day get into dental school,” Chad Fussell, one of Deal’s former students, said in a string of tweets.

Fussell was on the GS baseball team beginning in 1995. He took one of Deal’s chemistry classes on the path to hopefully becoming a dentist.

“I absolutely bombed the first exam in your class,” Fussell said. “While you were empathetic, you let me know quickly that being a baseball player would not get me any special treatment.”

Fussell went on to thank Deal for his words of encouragement, now 15 years into his dental practice.

The Voice of the Eagles

Todd Deal’s legacy as Voice of the Eagles actually dawned with baseball on Feb. 19, 1993 – against Georgia Tech.

“For at least five years,” Deal said. “I called all Georgia Southern home baseball games. It was like a dream.”

Interestingly and almost like destiny, Deal’s last game he called was Tuesday, Feb. 20 – against Georgia Tech.

After Todd mastered the baseball scene for nearly ten years, he became a two-sport star.

“During the 2001 or 2002 season, the guy who usually did football games took a job at Troy, where he still is,” Deal said. “They asked me if I would take over, and I’ve been doing football ever since.”

Every “Georgia Southern first down” in Paulson Stadium has been announced by Deal. He developed that and other new phrases and catch phrases into his unique style.

Leadership and Community Engagement

In 2008, Todd Deal’s most influential and penultimate part of his GS chapter was created.

“Building a campus culture is what would set (GSU) apart from UGA to become a first choice school,” Deal said.

The plan was spawned by the VP of student affairs at the time, who wanted to make this leadership program something that would be able to impact not only students’ lives while at GS, but for their lives post-graduation.

“The first time Dr. Thompson asked me, I said no,” Deal said.

A few years later, Deal went back to Thompson and told her that he was fascinated with the idea and wanted to learn more about her vision with the program.

“She asked me to step into the leadership role because the other man was leaving and run this program for about a year,” Deal said. “It’s been 10 years.”

Just in one conversation with Deal, the passion and love for students and leadership glows.

“You can be academically fantastic and fail in life,” Deal said. “There are skills relating to people, helping people understand vision, to see how you can help others improve…those are the skills that really make a person excel long term.”

In these 10 years, Deal has worked his way up in what’s now titled the Office of Leadership and Community Engagement. He, along with many others, has founded many programs and taught thousands of students about both leadership and service.

One of his current co-workers is Jodi Kennedy, associate director of the OLCE. She has worked with him throughout his tenure.

“He knew about so many different students that we weren’t necessarily reaching with our office,” Kennedy said. “He really broadened our eyes to what could be, rather than what was happening.”

When Deal and Kennedy began working together, there were only three people working in the office. Today, there are more than 10 staff members and several graduate assistants.

“The way he can share knowledge with you without trying to seem better than you is inspiring,” Kennedy said.

Reflecting on his time at GS

“This place is in my heart and will always be in my heart,” Deal said, reminiscing his time at GS.

While he is closing the door on the professional teaching career, Deal is using his many skills and knowledge in the leadership field to take on a role in the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, North Carolina. 

“I’ve just finished a 15-0 season, everything is perfect, so the coach is going to step aside,” Deal said. “You can’t do it any better than that.”

McClain Baxley, The George-Anne sports editor, [email protected]