A terminal case of pulmonary lymphoma did little to stop Monte Bute, a professor at Metropolitan State University. He was handed a 14-month expiration date but Bute didn’t throw in the towel. Throughout his treatment, he has taken the opportunity to teach his students as much as he can. He captivates each class and takes them deep into the world of philosophy, history, literature, life and death.
Bute has been many things in his life, none of which are considered conventional. Bute has experienced all 65 years of his life quite fully- from juvenile delinquency, to a peace activist hippy and now, a revered professor. Much to the joy of his inspired students, Bute’s cancer is currently in remission. Unfortunately, this particular type of cancer has a way of returning more aggressively than the first time. Bute is ready for it, happy to have extended his time on Earth by even the littlest amount. He told Minnesota Public Radio, “Death showed up at my door on my birthday last year and I’ve been playing him a game of chess. I may win or lose, but I’m willing to keep taking it on. If I win, I live. If I lose, he takes me.”
In the meantime, he continues to teach. His lectures are drawn from his own life experiences and close relationship with death. One class, Life of the Mind, focuses on the dying process. Death is an integral part of life that is widely feared and misunderstood. Bute is fighting hard to tear down those walls and elicit a true love of life and knowledge in his students.
If Bute has his way, he won’t stop teaching until the day he dies. “Your illness and your aches and pains fall away,” he said. “There’s something happening in that space between you and students that’s magical, that’s mystical, that’s profound and it just sucks you in completely.” After reading the comments from so many students that dearly love Professor Bute, I searched for the Monte Bute Fan Page on Facebook. A lot of teachers lose the passion for their calling but Monte Bute is a true educator and the world is lucky to have him, for however long we get.