Desire to Learn
With very little formal education in my youth, I approached higher education with an insatiable thirst for knowledge. Teaching in higher education is a career path requiring one to be a life-long learner. It’s exciting to teach what we already know to our students while also keeping up with the latest and greatest in our respective fields.
Not Just Memorization
My aim in every class is to divert attention from memorization-based content to applying knowledge appropriately. This philosophy is based on facts being easily accessible in almost any setting (think of how quickly you can find formulas, structures, definitions, etc. simply using your cell phone). I believe the real challenge in our technologically advanced age is interpreting and applying information correctly.
Research With Students
I only do research which facilitates student involvement. My research assistants usually work with me throughout their 4 years of undergraduate study. As they gain more experience I give them more responsibility and independence. By the time they graduate most have developed a professional portfolio which makes them easily marketable in the workplace or graduate school.
I’m a big fan of the MAAC. It is a special opportunity to have my office, classrooms, laboratories and exercise facilities under the same roof. It allows me to get students away from their desks and into a stimulating environment.
Value of a Liberal Arts Education
We’ve become a society obsessed with specialization. We want to hire the person who is really experienced at one thing, rather than the person who is pretty good at a lot of things. Highly specialized training can be of value, but it is equally important to employ individuals who have a broader knowledge of the world around them. A liberal arts education helps students make connections between their specific passions and seemingly unrelated topics. For example, it was in a Political Science course where I was first introduced to the scientific method.
Piece of Advice
Find the person you think you might want to be. Spend time with them and ask lots of questions. Don’t be afraid to change your mind if you find that job or career isn’t for you.