There’s still magic in the teaching of Clayton State University Professor of Chemistry Dr. James “Jim” Braun.
In fact, it could well be said that, after 37 years at Clayton State, there is still good chemistry between the University’s senior faculty member and his students… and one of the reasons for that good chemistry is magic. Braun has been a magician since taking a continuing education course in magic while he was in graduate school.
“I was bitten by the bug, I guess it was in 1975 in St. Louis,” he says. “It’s an excellent vehicle for exhibiting certain science principles, and to get the students to come to class on Fridays. It also gives me a better stage presence in the classroom, so it’s been a benefit for academic reasons.”
For 25 years, Braun presented his “Magical Extravaganza” at Clayton State each year. And, although those yearly performances lapsed in 2007, Braun is bringing the Extravaganza back for what he says will most likely be the last time… he’s retiring in May 2015 as the longest-serving professor in the University’s history.
The 2015 Magical Extravaganza will be held on Friday, Jan. 16 and Saturday, Jan. 17, in the Clayton State Theatre, room G132 of the Arts and Sciences Building. The doors will open at 6 p.m. with the show starting promptly at 7 p.m. The magic show, made possible by Braun and a host of other professional and amateur magicians, is free and open to the public, with seating on a first come—first served basis. Braun declines to give out details of the coming shows – as everyone knows, magicians never give out their secrets – but he does promise it will be entertaining.
Braun’s skills at prestidigitation, as well as teaching, remain sharp. In addition to performing in the classroom on Fridays, he’s still performing for groups as varied as the Clayton State Honors Program students, scouts, and church groups.