What follows is a brief statement of my academic vision, a description of my experience in and commitment to leadership, collaboration, and partnership with community organizations, and my approach to teaching, scholarship, service, and student-success in diverse learning environments.
I am an energetic and enthusiastic scholar, teacher, and leader of projects that advance what I regard as the true calling of institutions of higher learning: to facilitate individuals’ lifelong capacities for critical, creative and autonomous thought, for personal development, and for thoughtful and responsible problem-solving, acting, and relating in the world.
Embedded within this mission are the ideals of academic integrity, interdisciplinarity, and openness, as well as social, cultural, and economic diversity, inclusiveness, and universal access to shareable social and public goods.
My scholarship, teaching, mentoring, service, and work in institutional capacity-building traverse the traditional boundaries of teaching / service / scholarship. I believe it is important to recognize that these boundaries are, ultimately, artificial. That is, at a well-functioning university, teaching, scholarship, and service should always inform each other.
Experience in Organizational and Programmatic Leadership
A project I designed in coordination with the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) and the US Fulbright Specialist Program was approved by the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Commission in early 2018.
During the period of my grant and visit, I hosted weeks of full-day and half-day seminars and workshops for faculty, administrators, students, and future trainers. The primary goal of the seminars and workshops was to enhance SIM’s capacity to advance critical thinking outcomes across their diverse curricula.
The project, ultimately, sought to develop twenty-first century learning skills in students — “Twenty-first century learning skills” have been defined so as to include: critical thinking, problem-solving, and creative and analytic thinking — by enhancing local instructors’ abilities to deliver courses that are oriented toward the development of critical thinking, creative thinking, and questioning.
I am continuing to work with this partner institution to create a virtual Teaching and Learning Resource Center for faculty and to design a new diagnostic tool for assessing critical thinking in students at multiple time-points across their academic careers.
This service has permitted me not only to improve myself as a teacher and as a trainer of teachers, and not only to continue to undertake scholarly work on the subjects of pedagogy and critical thinking, but to present the results of my studies and my experiences to faculty and students.
This grant has also helped me to complete a (forthcoming) book on the dynamics of teaching critical thinking, tentatively entitled, Critical Thinking and the Subject of Inquiry. The book is based on my many years of experience in teaching and studying critical thinking and advances a facilitative and content-rich approach. The book, I believe, represents a meaningful contribution to our understanding of and practice of critical thinking, what it is, how it can be developed in students, and what stands in its way.
Based on my experience in scholarly publishing, teacher-training, and the scholarship of teaching and learning, I serve on the Advisory Council for the Center for the Advancement of Scholarship, Teaching, and Learning (CASTL), an influential force in shaping professional development efforts that connect teaching and scholarship at the College.
I have been invited by CASTL to prepare and deliver a Faculty Workshop on the process(es) of scholarly publishing, which is scheduled for the 2018-2019 academic year. I have also been asked to deliver a Faculty Workshop on discussion-based, text-based, and question-centered teaching, which is also tentatively scheduled for this academic year. I recently delivered a short version of this presentation on scholarly publishing at the first annual faculty (Sip-It) event in September 2018.
I was recently invited to give a Lecture to students, faculty, and colleagues of the Department of Psychology as well as members of the Psychological Association of Western New York (PAWNY) about my research in psychoanalysis and the ideology of experience.
In the past, I have offered Medaille College and community opportunities to engage with others in areas of their interest that intersect with my expertise. Under this category of service, I would include everything from my Faculty Presentation on the role of “Identity-Integration and Student-Motivation,” to my Faculty Workshop on “The Group Dynamics of Class Discussion and their Impact on Reflective Learning” offered at The Jacobs Center, to my numerous interviews published in newspapers, broadcast on NPR/WBFO, or featured in popular magazines such as The Atlantic, Elle Magazine (UK) and elsewhere.
At the University of Maryland, College Park, I served as Associate Director of the International Studies Program of College Park Scholars, a residential Honors college focused specifically on experiential and community-based learning. In this role, I taught courses and led colloquia in political science, supervised students’ internships and service-learning projects, and led excursions to community-service sites and to political institutions with educational import, such as the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. and the United Nations and the State Department in New York City.
I currently serve on two elected committees central to Collegiate governance: the Undergraduate Educational Policy Committee and the Academic Quality / Progamming Committee. The remit of these committees, taken together, includes everything from the academic calendar to the approval of new academic majors and degrees, from the establishment of grading standards to to policies concerning enrollment, admission, and advisement.
Creation and Implementation of New Courses and Programs
I have been involved in virtually every level of curricular change and development affecting my Department and my College over the past thirteen (13) years, ranging from the redesign of our interdisciplinary Core Curriculum (a series of courses that affects every student at the College), to the creation of the formal definition and rubric for assessing “critical thinking” across the curriculum, to the institutional assessment of essential learning outcomes in General Education / Interdisciplinary Studies courses. I have successful designed (or re-designed) and implemented two new majors, (Interdisciplinary) Liberal Studies and International Studies.
I have, more recently, discovered a means to serve the College even more profoundly, which is rooted in my longstanding work and service in relation to the training of faculty and the teaching, research, and scholarly writing about critical thinking and pedagogical practice. This work was encapsulated in my recent Fulbright grant, whose work-products (which include a textbook on critical thinking) I can now offer to students and faculty, and whose on-going developments will, hopefully, continue to shape teaching practices.
I am currently teaching my newly-created course, INT 310: Psychoanalysis and Politics, which satisfies a “Global Dialogues” requirement by including texts and issues representatives of debates about the relationship between psychology, the family, society, and government from a variety of canonical and non-canonical sources.
I created and the course, POL 210: World Politics, which is integral for the implementation of our new International Studies Major.
I developed new courses and modified the outlines of numerous existing courses, including GEN/INT 110, GEN 220, GEN 230, GEN 410, and GEN 411.
I continue to serve in the improvement and regular (term by term) formal and informal assessment of these and other courses.
I founded and directed a college-wide program, the Medaille Film Forum. The Film Forum featured provocative films and workshop-style discussions to enhance the culture of intellectual engagement at the College.
Community-Based and Service-Based Learning
I have had the honor of creating or participating in the establishment of a number of community-based and service-based partnership and learning-opportunities for students to connect social issues and civic action to their academic studies.
I am a Faculty Fellow at the Western New York Service Learning Coalition (WNYSLC) and, as part of Medaille College’s Learning Community Program, I integrated first- and second-year courses with community-based and service-based learning projects that ranged from students’ individualized study of community institutions that profoundly impacted their lives, to service-learning work at organizations for community education and refugee assistance.
I obtained a Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Grant to develop an intensive service-learning project for my Intercultural Communication (INT 325) course where students applied contemporary research in communication theory to their task of developing a series of Intercultural Communication Workshops for the ethnically and socio-economically diverse clients and volunteers of Be-a-Friend, Inc. Big Brothers/Big Sisters (BBBS) of Erie County.
This ambitious project succeeded not only because students designed truly effective workshops grounded in relevant theory and practice, but because, throughout the course, students asked increasingly profound questions about the nature of social power, the politics of communication and identity, and the impacts of race, class, and gender differences in their community.
I also worked closely with Medaille’s Office of Multi-Cultural and Community-Based Learning to develop projects and opportunities for students to engage with issues of equity and justice in a global context. For example, I received a Multicultural Education and Diversity Grant in order to host a screening and panel discussion on the future of Palestine/Israel, incorporating the documentary film, “Little Town of Bethlehem.”
I have served on the Committee for Development of International Programs in E.S.L. and American Culture and the Faculty Committee on Civic Engagement. I have also served on numerous faculty committees that support the ideals of diversity, inclusion, and equitable access, such as the Committee for Revision of Baccalaureate Capstone Sequence, which has worked to integrate course objectives with community-based and service-based learning opportunities, and “Project EQUIP,” a campus-wide initiative linking classroom learning with real-world problem-solving. In addition, I have served on the Committee for Development of International Programs in E.S.L. and American Culture and the Faculty Committee on Civic Engagement.
Diverse Environments, Meaningful Successes
Over the past thirteen years, I have taught over 100 undergraduate courses, the vast majority of which have been Core (GEN / INT) courses at Medaille College in Buffalo, NY. I consider this teaching as both a privilege and a challenge, since teaching students of all majors, students with the most diverse educational backgrounds, and students from every department at the College requires a teaching practice and an immensity of effort.
Medaille College hosts a highly diverse student body with respect to race, ethnicity, educational background, socioeconomic status, veteran status, and age.
The racial and ethnic diversity at Medaille comes, to a lesser degree, from Medaille’s efforts to host international students, and, to a greater degree, from Buffalo’s considerable Black/African-American and Chicano/Latino/Hispanic populations. Unfortunately, Buffalo remains a (de facto) segregated city, where race and ethnicity are highly correlated with housing prices, school-quality, public safety, and household income.
A considerable number of Medaille students are “first-generation” college students. This aspect of students’ family/educational background cuts across lines of race, sex, age, and gender expression, and can have a uniquely powerful effect on students’ success in college, not only in shaping their preparation for college-level work, but in determining students’ abilities to find help, resources, and support at or near home.
Although Medaille is a private college, a great many students receive substantial “tuition discounts,” and virtually all students I have known have held at least one part-time job to support themselves and/or their families.
Medaille is considered by some reports to be a “top military-friendly college” in New York, offering a host of programs, scholarships, and services to past or present military members. I have personally worked with countless men and women who have served and have, at times, developed mentoring relationships with them that included personal struggles to overcome mental and physical health issues.
By the latest accounting, fewer than fifty percent of our students fell within the “traditional” age of college students [18-22 years]. And while Medaille has not published formal data on the issue, I have personally known and advised many gender queer and non-cis-gender students over my many years at Medaille.
Because many of the courses I teach fall within the College’s Core Curriculum, I regularly teach, advise, and mentor a full and representative cross-section of our entire student body, including students in all Programs, from all Majors, and at all levels of preparedness and proficiency, from Honors students to students who have been provisionally-accepted and enrolled in our intensive Summer Programs due to identifiable needs for assistance in developing fundamental academic skills.
I am a mentor and advisor to a highly diverse group of students from within the Liberal Studies Major and, frankly, to all students who seek out my counsel as a faculty member. I have been nominated multiple times as “Professor of the Year” by Medaille Student Government and, perhaps more applicably for the purposes of this statement, as “Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year,” by Medaille’s TRiO Student Support Services Program, which primarily serves students who have been underserved educationally and who have a learning difference or disability.
I have worked closely with Medaille’s Office of Multi-Cultural and Community-Based Learning to develop projects and opportunities for students to engage with issues of diversity, equity, and justice in a global context. .
In my recent Fulbright Specialist Grant, I promoted student-achievement and capacity-building at an overseas institution, training a truly diverse faculty and student population in student-centered pedagogies.
Before coming to Medaille, I earned an M.A. and Ph.D. and taught at the University of Maryland, College Park, a large and ethnically diverse State University located in Prince George’s County, MD.