We’re Thankful for All of You

— Jeanne M. Slattery and Melissa K. Downes

In a conversation with faculty members in the early fall, one person (not a faculty member or administrator) told a series of anecdotes about faculty who had allegedly behaved in ways that were less than stellar. These stories had been trusted even though taken out of context and heard secondhand. It is too easy in our culture to dismiss or misrepresent what university faculty and staff do.

f3c2773a2c430f7173d867dcec9f358aWe will trust such stories when we hear these stories in context. We will trust the representativeness of such stories when they also include the range of thoughtful and compassionate acts that our faculty practice every day.

Here are just some of our faculty and staff whose everyday acts have impressed us as we have looked around this year:

  • Joseph Croskey (Advising) has been teaching the soccer team mindfulness on his own time. Every time we see Joseph, he is serving – the incoming freshmen who he helped move in, his advisees he meets around campus, students at Honors rehearsals, and the faculty who he represents as chair in Faculty Senate.
  • Rhonda Clark (Library Science) wants her students to learn to use technology effectively. She asked 50 students (!!!) to Skype her during the first week of the term – and held conversations with every single one of them.
  • Marcy Schlueter (Psychology) goes over and above for our students. She listens carefully to them. She mentors them. She doesn’t say No or cut herself a break, even after seriously hurting her shoulder. And, we see similar things from administrative assistants across campus.
  • Leah Chambers and Rich Lane (English) have built a community literacy center that educates community children and adults, and offers opportunities for our students to put classroom theory and research into practice. 537 Clarion represents the university well at considerable personal cost to both Leah and Rich.
  • When one of her advisees was diagnosed with a relapse of a very serious illness, Suzie Boyden (Biology) contacted each of that student’s professors to let them know why her student wasn’t able to be in class. Suzie cares for her students as individuals, both in and out of the classroom – as many (even most) of our faculty do.
  • Andrew Keth (Biology) has been collaborating with Clarion-Limestone High School to create the Clarion-Limestone Amphibian Research Center (CLARC), both supporting conservation of native amphibians and giving students hands-on opportunities in the field.
  • Mel Michel (Theatre) has been representing Clarion University thoughtfully and well through very difficult times.
  • Brent Register (Music) threads music and courtesy through his daily practice. (And, we really wish that we’d been able to hear his original score for Jesus in India.)
  • Laurie Pierce (Nursing), who won the Faculty Award at the Social Equity banquet, addresses issues of racial and gender equity throughout her teaching and research.
  • Faculty and staff regularly volunteer to help with the Passages soup drive, and did so again this year. We’re thankful to all of them and to those who contacted us after our first announcement and offered their help: Tina Horner (Communication Manager) with cookies, Krisztina Beni (HPE) with soup.
  • Pam Gent (Associate VP of Academic Affairs) consistently remembers to thank all of us when she sees us doing something good.
  • And each one of our faculty authors has been thoughtful about teaching – in the classroom and in Hand in Hand.

thank-you-gratitudeAs we were working on this list, we kept coming up with additional people to include in our list of thank yous. We ran out of time and energy. We did not run out of names.

If you look for bad, you will find it. We are thankful to our many friends and colleagues who regularly go over and above with our students, our faculty, and the community. You make us proud. Every day.

Jeanne M. Slattery is a professor of psychology at Clarion University. She is interested in thinking about what makes teaching and learning successful, and generally describes herself as a learner-centered teacher. She has written two books, Counseling diverse clients: Bringing context into therapy, an Empathic counseling: Meaning, context, ethics, and skill (with C. Park), and is writing Trauma, meaning, and spirituality: Research and clinical perspectives. She can be contacted at jslattery@clarion.edu

Melissa K. Downes is an associate professor of English at Clarion University. She loves teaching.  She is interested in talking about how people teach and enjoys sharing how she teaches. She is an 18th century specialist, an Anglophile, a cat lover, and a poet. She can be contacted at mdownes@clarion.edu

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