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Chilliwack professor shaves off impressive goatee for love of music

Darren Blakeborough, professor of social, cultural and media studies at the University of the Fraser Valley, agreed to shave off his 10-inch goatee in support of the Devon Clifford Foundation. - Submitted
Darren Blakeborough, professor of social, cultural and media studies at the University of the Fraser Valley, agreed to shave off his 10-inch goatee in support of the Devon Clifford Foundation.
— image credit: Submitted

In a matter of minutes UFV professor Darren Blakeborough went from being a ZZ Top lookalike to a Poindexter – all for charity.

The social, cultural and media studies professor went under the razor last Monday to raise funds for the Devon Clifford Foundation, which supports community music initiatives.

In an event entitled Daylight Shavings, which tied in with daylight savings, Blakeborough's 10-inch goatee was tied at the chin and chopped off by a student, who then proceeded to shave him smooth.

"I looked at myself in the mirror and I almost started crying," he said. "I don't recognize myself."

Understandable.

The goatee, in different variations, has been part of Blakeborough's identity for at least 15 years.

When the 44-year-old heavy metal enthusiast chopped off his long hair in his early 30s to present a more professional look, he wasn't willing to do the same for his goatee.

"Even though I was integrating myself into society, I still needed that freak flag," he said.

"It's been with me for so long; it's a part of who I am."

But last year when his media and communications students were complaining about course selection, timing of courses, and the fact they don't have the option of taking a major in the program, Blakeborough offered up his goatee in exchange for them organizing a student group.

The media and communications department is a relatively small department at UFV that often gets overpowered by the university's larger programs. Currently it only offers an associate arts degree, or an option for a Bachelor of Arts minor. Any student wanting to major in the program has to leave UFV to do so.

"I told them if they had a student group, they'd have a unified voice," said Blakeborough. "I was like what do I need to do for you guys to do this because it's in your best interest."

A student suggested shaving off the goatee, and once the group was formed this year, Blakeborough manned up.

But not without great fears.

The day of the shaving he posted on Facebook, 'Getting ready to shave off my identity tonight.'

An hour before, he debated going home, ditching the event entirely, and saving his beloved persona.

But the charity kept him strong.

The Devon R.B. Clifford Memorial Foundation was started in honour of Devon Clifford, the drummer of Abbotsford band You Say Party! We Say Die! who collapsed on stage in 2010 and died of a massive brain hemorrhage.

The purpose of the foundation is to provide music lessons for teens and young adults who are financially disadvantaged.

"I loved that idea," said Blakeborough. "With funding cuts to schools, the arts are always the first to go. And when you have families fighting to put food on the table, and no money for music lessons, but you have these kids who all they want to do is play music, what a great cause.

"Music matters."

The fundraiser raised approximately $400.

And while Blakeborough has severe issues with his "weak" chin, and the fact his smooth skin is showing a more "chubby" look, he figures in two months time, his beloved goatee will be back to proper form, along with his trademark black t-shirts, shorts, and black shades.

kbartel@theprogress.com

twitter.com/schoolscribe33

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