Associate Professor of Political Science
B.A. Albion College
M.A., Johns Hopkins University
M.T.S., Wesley Theological Seminary
Ph.D., Syracuse University
Name your most memorable Coe program and what it meant to you.
I had the privilege of going on the Concert Choir's trip to Costa Rica in January 2008 - not, thank goodness, as a member of the choir (anyone who's heard me sing in church knows how ugly that would be!). The Choir traveled around the country, sightseeing and performing, and I was along as an extra Spanish speaker.
The first performance in the small town of San Carlos was particularly memorable. For starters, the wind was whipping about the cathedral where the choir was singing, blowing the rain almost horizontally past the open doors. (We gave Coe's choir director, Marc Falk, a hard time for billing Costa Rica as a tropical paradise.) Throughout the performance, rain-soaked people continued to arrive. The choir sang a wonderful variety of music, including "Cantares." Afterwards, I saw people who had been literally moved to tears by the music, and an elderly man told me that it had taken his breath away.
What is your most memorable moment in dealing with a Coe student?
Before a class meeting of Religion and World Politics, I overhead two students talking about going skydiving. I joined the conversation, saying I'd always wanted to go skydiving (it was on my "bucket list"), but I figured someone would have to push me out of the plane. One of the students responded without hesitation, "I'd push you!" She then turned bright red. Six months later, we jumped.
What do you do outside of class?
To be honest, like most of my colleagues, I work a lot of hours. That means non-work time is pretty limited - and that I take it pretty seriously. I enjoy an eclectic mix of things. Travel is a priority; I conduct research in Mexico, visit my family in Florida, and explore new places with friends. When I'm in Cedar Rapids, I take salsa lessons. I also bike, attend concerts and plays, cheer on students in sporting events, go to church, read, listen to NPR (love "Car Talk"!), and watch "MASH" re-runs. Since the flood of 2008, I've tried to lend a hand with flood recovery (I swing a mean crow bar). I'm also the faculty advisor for Coe's Habitat for Humanity chapter.
What is your favorite thing about Coe?
As a teacher at a small liberal arts college, I get to teach an extraordinary variety of courses. I enjoy stretching myself to craft courses I haven't taught before (new courses like Political Science Fiction) and re-working and improving courses that I've taught many, many times (like Introduction to Politics). Keeping my teaching fresh means continually learning more about the world around me, incorporating it into my courses, and trying to instill in students my love of learning and especially of politics. Of course, students are an integral part of this equation: each semester I meet students who are eager to learn and enthusiastic about the courses I teach. Coe is a great place to learn and to teach because there's a tremendous amount of collegiality.
What makes Coe stand out from other schools?
We're a fairly tight-knit community. We're tight enough that we tend to watch out for each other, but not so tight that we're closed to new people or new perspectives.
What advice would you give a prospective student?
Acquire a thirst for learning. Follow current events. Find books with quirky titles, such as How to Eat Soup with a Knife - and read them! Keep reading until you find a subject that really interests you then read some more. People who are continually reading and learning and discovering new interests are interesting people.