The Professor Is In: Q&A with Joan Walker

Find out how Joan Walker came to realize her passion for teaching, the wisdom of pig wrestling, and her opinion on Game of Thrones.

When she isn’t grading piles of papers, Joan Walker, PhD, is exemplifying what it means to be a trailblazer in her field—education. This year, the School of Education associate professor won a prestigious award for her research developing an online course on parent-teacher interactions that is innovating the way teachers learn how to communicate with parents. The Outstanding Journal of Teaching Education Article Award is given every year to pioneers in the field of education who have exhibited strong leadership by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the leading professional group for American teacher education. You can learn more about her research, which focuses on a key component of education that is often overlooked, by watching a video about the project, reviewing the JTE article, or accessing a sample case study from the online program.

Now, she’s taken some time away from her hectic life as a professor to talk about everything from her love of men’s basketball to opera singing.

What was your favorite class as a student? Least favorite?
I didn’t like high school very much. The only things that got me out of bed were music class and getting a free ride into town—I am from rural Kentucky and lived on a farm far from the nearest town. Math was always my least favorite because it was the class I felt least successful in.

What one thing or person made you passionate about your current career?
I’d define my current career in two ways: Research and teaching. As a researcher, I am a psychologist. Psychology feels like a natural fit. People are fascinating. To me, one of the most interesting questions in the world is, “how do people learn?” As to what made me a passionate teacher? I’d say good role models and DNA. I come from a long line of teachers.  My first career was as a music teacher. Then I was a day care director. Later I worked at a biomedical engineering research center. That may sound pretty discursive but they were all related to education. I like looking at learning through different lenses.

What quality do you most value in your students?
Effort.

What’s your advice to students to make the most out of their time in college?
Work hard and enjoy yourself.  Try not to worry about the future.

If you had to do it all over again and took another path, what profession would you like to attempt? What profession would you not like to do?
Opera singing. I would NOT make a good physician. I’m a Dr. Pepper kind of doctor and that’s fine with me.

What is your favorite book/TV show?
Right now I am devouring Game of Thrones. On book three. It’s exhilarating and brutal and makes me lose a lot of sleep because I can’t put it down. From November to March my favorite TV show is any Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball game.

What would you do if you had an extra hour every day?

Write.

What is your favorite journey/experience?

My time in doctoral school was transforming. In terms of more local recent journeys, the Hudson train line from Croton-Harmon into Grand Central is exquisite.

What is your favorite saying/words to live by?

When working with difficult people, I like to remember this Kentucky adage: Don’t wrestle that pig. You get dirty and the pig has fun.

If you could have any five people, living or dead, imagined or real, as guests at a dinner party, who would you choose?
People who’d help do the dishes.

The Professor Is In: Q&A with P.V. Viswanath

Lubin Finance Professor P.V. Viswanath talks culture, finance, polyglotism, and his interests from Jay Leno to film editing.

Written by Pace student Sarah Aires ’14

To have a conversation with P.V. Viswanath, PhD, is to be immersed in his amazingly vast knowledge of every topic from religion and languages to finance and economics. When Viswanath isn’t in a classroom lecturing both undergraduate and graduate students on financial practices, he can be found advising undergraduate students on their honors theses in finance, or embarking on his newest endeavor to learn Chinese (he is fluent in several languages including French, Spanish, Tamil, and Hindi.) He, along with colleague Professor Rebecca Tekula, recently applied for a grant to perform research in urban microfinance—an innovative field in the economic world that investigates people in urban areas who are underserved by commercial banks. They will try to uncover why 8 percent of people in the entire U.S., and nearly 14 percent of New Yorkers, do not have a bank account at all. His research will compare un-banked citizens of NYC and Mumbai, where Viswanath was born and raised. He is extremely interested in anthropology and diverse cultures. Last summer, Viswanath visited a group of people in Northeast India called the Bnei Menashe, who believe that they are descended from the lost Israelite tribe of Menashe, expelled from Israel in the 8th century BCE by the Assyrians. The group is actively seeking to reestablish its connections to Jewish society and many members of the group wish to immigrate to Israel. His previous research includes innumerable academic papers on topics like law and marketing. He is certainly an asset to the Pace Community—and extremely fun to boot.

What was your favorite class as a student? Least favorite?
My favorite class in high school was French. It was the first of many languages I’ve studied in my life. In undergraduate school, I found an interest in English literature and economics.

My least favorite class in school was biology. Where I went to school in Mumbai, we did not have a lot of great teachers in the sciences and you were not required to take science courses if it was not in your area of study.

What one thing or person made you passionate about your current career?
Since coming to Pace I have become much more passionate about teaching. I believe I have a very analytical mind and I’ve always loved to do research. But it’s only since coming to Pace, that I really developed my interesting in teaching. I’ve realized it is a great responsibility [to be a professor]. Sometimes when a student does not like a course, it is the way in which the material is presented. I make the effort to learn how to improve my teaching.

What quality do you most value in your students?
I value students who think about a question or topic and ask questions. Something I do in my class (which I know isn’t always popular) is I don’t always give an answer to a question. In some other classes, perhaps there is an answer to a question, but I think, in general, it is more important to be able to think critically. Especially in economics and finance students are always saying, “But what is the right answer? I need the answer!” but often times it is not about the answer, but learning how to think about a topic and evaluate it.

What’s your advice to students to make the most out of their time in college?
Take courses outside your major and expand your horizons past your primary area of study.

If you had to do it all over again and took another path, what profession would you like to attempt? What profession would you not like to do?
I mentioned earlier how I didn’t have a lot of education in the physical sciences. And I’ve always enjoyed research. I am a researcher first. So, if I could I would study the physical sciences and perhaps become a research scientist.

I think I probably would be a terrible musician. But I do enjoy music… I learned to chant from the Torah. With each character there is a specific pitch to chant at and I’ve studied that.

What is your favorite book/TV show?
My wife and I really like Jay Leno—we try to watch him. And I really liked Cheers a long time ago. I read a lot. One genre I really enjoy is crime fiction like Clive Cussler, who writes thrillers that take place in New York. I also enjoy historical and locale-based crime fiction, e.g. by Qiu Xiao Long writes crime stories based in modern-day Shanghai.  I was also a big fan of the Brother Cadfael series of murder mysteries set in 12th century England.

What would you do if you had an extra hour every day?
I’d probably read—I also like movies and don’t see enough of them. In fact, I would also like to study film editing—which I hope to do eventually. It amazes me how editing of the film can completely change a movie. Even the film industry’s connection to finance is interesting. For example, if you’re a film maker with debt financing, you are likely to have to give up artistic control.  Since the lender just wants to make sure he gets his money back and doesn’t participate in any upside in case the movie does really well, he wants to reduce his risk exposure. This is particularly true of studio financing. With debt financing, the director has much more control. S/he doesn’t have to worry about the studio insisting on changing a movie ending, for example.

What is your favorite journey/experience?
I traveled to China and taught in Beijing for three weeks. That was a very interesting experience because I was exposed to a whole different culture, but one that has been connected with India since the times of the Buddha.

What is your favorite saying/words to live by?
My favorite saying that I try to live by is from Hillel in the 2nd century. Don’t do something to someone else that you would not want done to you.

If you could have any five people, living or dead, imagined or real, as guests at a dinner party, who would you choose?
Mahatma Gandhi, Jesus, Muhammad, Adolf Hitler, and Ashoka, a 3rd century Indian king who was instrumental in the spread of Buddhism to China and throughout Asia.  He underwent a change of heart after a very bloody war and became more interested in the welfare of his people.

The Professor Is In: Q&A with Emilie Zaslow

In this Professor Is In, Emilie Zaslow, PhD, talks feminism and family, dinner guests and Downton Abbey, and more!

Written by Pace student Sarah Aires ’14

It’s no surprise that Professor Emilie Zaslow, PhD, was named “Best Professor” for the 2012 Pawscars. She has been featured in articles in The New York Times, the Associated Press and MTV.com. Her book Feminism, Inc.: Coming of Age in Girl Power Media Culture, a critical account of the girl power movement, was published in 2009. Her research explores the media’s impact on gender identity and femininity. She’s been granted many research grants including Pace’s prestigious Dyson Summer Research Grant several times, and written for and reviewed countless scholarly articles and journals. Whether she is acting as adviser, holding a riveting lecture, or moderating a classroom debate, Professor Zaslow is always available to her students in any capacity. In this Professor Is In, she lets Pace know just what makes her tick!

What was your favorite class as a student? Least favorite?

As an undergraduate my favorite classes were History and Sociology of the English Speaking Caribbean. It was an interdisciplinary course that used sociological, economic, and political frameworks to explore the relationship of a region. It was a real eye-opener and made me consider the global impacts of my values and actions. My least favorite class was Oceanography, taken at 8:00 a.m. The instructor was so enthusiastic but the combination of my lack of interest in the subject and the time of the class made it very difficult for me to focus.

What one thing or person made you passionate about your current career?

I don’t know that I could ever say there is one thing that made me passionate about being a professor. My research explores the messages young women receive from contemporary media and how they negotiate the narratives they receive about what it means to be female, feminine, and feminist. I feel passionate about my research every time I have a wonderful class discussion in which students confront and critically analyze the messages they take for granted.

What quality do you most value in your students?

I really value students’ desire to look at the complexities of our world, ideologies, and values and their willingness to question the ideas we hold most deeply. It’s very easy to be “critical” but more of a challenge to “think critically”; it can sometimes be easier to find answers than to ask more questions.

What’s your advice to students to make the most out of their time in college?

My advice is two-fold: (1) Do a lot of planning. I am a list maker. Once, during my sophomore year of college, when I was trying to settle on a major, I made a list of all the courses I wanted to take at my school and all the places I wanted to study abroad and all the extra-curricular experiences I wanted to have. My list could have kept me in school for over 10 years (which, of course, explains my career choice…). The significant part of this, though, is that I did not let my education unfold before my eyes. I took hold of it. I was mindful in my decisions. (2) Embrace the core! A lot of students complain that they find it difficult to get through all of the Area of Knowledge courses but a liberal arts education is not simply to prepare students for a professional life but also to inspire intellectual curiosity and nurture an analytic approach to cultural, social, natural, and political life. At the very least, you can gather some material for a great dinner party conversation.

If you had to do it all over again and took another path, what profession would you like to attempt? What profession would you not like to do?

I have a children’s book or two in me waiting to come out. I would also love to develop my artistic skills; I have taken classes in photography, silkscreen, and painting but never pursued any of them very far. At one point, before going to grad school, I considered getting a graduate degree in Library Science. I love books and I love libraries. I am glad that I didn’t do this since I have really mixed emotions about the digitization of information.

What is your favorite book/TV show?

I’m a media scholar. I love my TV. All for different reasons, my current favorites are: Parenthood, The Daily Show with John Stewart, Downton Abbey, Mad Men, Modern Family, and Project Runway.

I am a big Toni Morrison fan and enjoy almost anything she has written. Song of Solomon is particularly beautiful. I recently really enjoyed People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks.

What would you do if you had an extra hour every day?

Sit on the floor and play, read, draw, paint, talk with my kids. There is never enough time.

What is your favorite journey/experience?

Personally, watching my kids grow up is the most amazing journey I have ever been on.  Professionally, I had a wonderful moment this past year when I co-authored an article on girls, media, and Presidential politics with my best friend of over 15 years, who is now Director of Research at the Girl Scout Research Institute. We met in kindergarten and followed very similar educational and career paths but this is the first time we have published together.

What is your favorite saying/words to live by?

“The people united shall never be defeated.” We should never just accept the status quo if it doesn’t work for the people. We can and should come together to make change.

If you could have any five people, living or dead, imagined or real, as guests at a dinner party, who would you choose?

I would probably choose a dinner with my family, both living and dead.  Before my great aunt died, I was able to gather some materials for an oral history. I heard wonderfully rich stories about my family’s immigrant experience in the early 1900s, but those are on cassette tapes now collecting dust in someone’s attic. I’d love to hear more of these stories.

The Professor Is In: Q&A with Brian Evans

School of Education Professor Brian Evans, EdD, has taken a quick rest on his quest to travel the world just long enough to tell us what he loves about teaching, nerds in academia, and Antarctica!

From traveling to Uganda to help teachers develop their mathematical problem solving abilities to hiking the Himalayas, it’s a wonder Brian R. Evans, EdD, has time for anything else. But when he isn’t traveling the world, Evans serves as the department chair and associate professor of Mathematics Education in the School of Education. He is also the co-chairperson for the Institutional Review Board and  director of Pace’s Summer Scholars Institute, which brings ambitious high school juniors and seniors to Pace for an early college experience.

At the School of Education, his primary focus is on pedagogical and content courses in mathematics for both pre-service and in-service teachers at the adolescent and childhood levels. He recently became the first Faculty Resident at Pace and serves as managing editor for the Journal of the National Association for Alternative Certification.

What was your favorite class as a student? Least favorite?
My favorite class was mathematics history. I really enjoyed this class and I now teach a mathematics history class at Pace. I’m also currently working on a mathematics history book. Mathematics and history are two of my favorite subjects, so the combination of the two is quite attractive to me.

I really didn’t take a course in college that I didn’t like. However, my least favorite class, if I had to choose one, was probably [computer] programming. I like computer science, but I often found myself very frustrated when the programs I wrote didn’t run correctly and I couldn’t figure out the problem. I liked the class, but found that aspect frustrating.

What one thing or person made you passionate about your current career?
If I focus on the teaching perspective of my career, it was my high school geometry teacher and a mathematics college professor who inspired me to teach. Both had the same approach of injecting humor into the classroom and had such an easy going demeanor that made learning very pleasurable. If I focus on research, there was an education professor with whom I still collaborate on research projects who really inspired my writing.

What quality do you most value in your students?
My classes are most enjoyable for me when my students are independent thinkers who engage in critical thinking and inquiry. Probably the most important quality of a college education is the enhanced ability to think critically.

What’s your advice to students to make the most out of their time in college?
My advice is for students to take advantage of opportunities they would later regret not taking when the opportunity is gone. For example, while I’ve traveled quite extensively on my own, I never participated in a study abroad program and now wish I had. I know others who took part in study aboard programs and felt it was one of the most rewarding experiences in their lives.

If you had to do it all over again and took another path, what profession would you like to attempt? What profession would you not like to do?
If I were to go back, I would still choose the position I’m in now. However, if I chose something different, medical school would have been a rewarding path to take. I would not like to have gone into any career in which helping people wasn’t a major focus, like it is with education and medicine.

What is your favorite book/TV show?
It’s difficult to choose only one book, but generally I like reading non-fiction about politics, philosophy, and travel. I don’t watch a terrible amount of television, and I generally watch the news or a documentary. However, currently I might say Big Bang Theory. It’s a show about nerds in academia. What’s not to like?

What would you do if you had an extra hour every day?
Only one hour? That’s difficult because I’d like many more hours. I wish I had more time to volunteer. I don’t volunteer nearly as often as I did before I became so busy. I do quite a lot of reading for my career, but not much reading for pleasure anymore. Having some time to read for pleasure would be welcome, hence my need for more than one hour.

What is your favorite journey/experience?
I love to travel everywhere. I’ve been to all seven continents and all 50 U.S. states. Probably one of my favorite trips was to Antarctica, given how remote and beautiful the continent was.

What is your favorite saying/words to live by?
I [find] this question difficult because there has been so much said throughout history that would fit this question. If I had to choose just one quote, it would be, “Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”–Aristotle

If you could have any five people, living or dead, imagined or real, as guests at a dinner party, who would you choose?
If living or dead is not an issue, nor is language and period context, there are so many from which to choose. One of the things I love about reading books is that one can read the words of thinkers who are long gone to the world, but whose ideas persist. It’s the next best thing to actually sitting down to dinner and having a conversation with them. To make the task easier for me I’ll choose living people in which it wouldn’t be impossible to have at a dinner party, albeit unlikely. I would choose Stephen Hawking, Noam Chomsky, Barack Obama, Aung San Suu Kyi, Andrew Wiles, and Richard Dawkins. That’s six, but there’s always room for one more at a dinner party.

Written by Pace student Sarah Aires ’14

The Professor Is In: Q&A with Elizabeth Berro

College of Health Professions Professor Elizabeth Berro discusses The Walking Dead, what she values most in her students, and more in the latest Professor Is In.

College of Health Professions Elizabeth Berro, RN, PNP, gives insight into how her enthusiasm for education over the years has influenced her. Her love for nursing is evident and transcends to the classroom where she teaches classes from pharmacology to “Pathophysiology in Entertainment Media.” Professor Berro began her nursing career as staff nurse in a pediatric intensive care unit at The New York Hospital and has been a full-time faculty member since 2006. You can find her on the Westchester Campus in the classroom, or advising her students and helping them pursue their personal and professional goals in nursing.

What was your favorite class as a student? Least favorite?
Not surprisingly, my favorite class was biology. I love science—well, not all sciences. I really enjoy life sciences. My least favorite class I’d have to say was chemistry so I can really empathize with students who dislike chemistry, not because of the didactic portion of the class but because of the lab. I actually had to retake chemistry in school because of the lab portion of the class. I took a chemistry class where a graduate student taught the lab portion and he gave me a C I think because he thought that would be considered a passing grade so I wouldn’t have to retake the lab. In my nursing program though, you needed a C+ as a passing grade so little did he know, I’d be back to take the course over again.

What one thing or person made you passionate about your current career?
It wasn’t really a person but more of an experience—a clinical experience—that made me passionate about my career. I was part of a nursing school that had a “diploma program.” It was a three year program and I was able to work directly with patients almost immediately. I really benefited from my clinical experiences working with patients in a hospital environment.

What quality do you most value in your students?
It’s an intellectual curiosity. That if they hear something they don’t know, or are learning something that they’d be curious about it and want to learn “why.” That is what made my clinical practice interesting. I asked myself “why” I was doing something, and why it worked like that. Whether it was the human body and why someone felt a specific symptom or whether it was a piece of equipment I worked with I always asked “why?” I worked for a long time in intensive care so there was a lot of equipment and I was always curious about how it worked and why it worked that way. And that is what makes my job interesting. Sometimes I feel like a three year old asking “why?”, “why?”, “why?”, but that’s what has made my experiences interesting.

What’s your advice to students to make the most out of their time in college?
I think there is a balance between making sure you’re having a good time, meeting people and also [deciding] if nursing is what you want and making sure that you succeed in reaching your academic goal. Keep your eye on the ball, decide what you want, and make sure you get that accomplished and establish and create a support [network] to do that. Often that entails surrounding yourself with a lot of other nursing students— and that is helpful— but I also think you should make sure you are exposed to people who are not in the nursing program. That’s a nice thing to do because people in the nursing program tend to be insular because they tend to study all day long and for [many] hours. It’s hard to get out of that circle or group of people and so I think trying to extend friendships and support outside that group is something I would recommend. I also think taking advantage of both our campuses is important. We also have a wonderful New York City Campus. Take advantage of both campuses and enjoy both environments.

If you had to do it all over again and took another path, what profession would you like to attempt? What profession would you not like to do?
I’m not exactly sure what the profession would be but I think I would like to have done something that involved more travel—maybe a nursing career that involves more travel. Those opportunities are there for people who want to travel. I’d like something that involves seeing a bit more of the world. I think anything solo is very difficult. Being a novelist I think would be a very difficult. It requires so much discipline and solitary work. Writing is a tough profession to begin with, a tough task that requires so much revision and to be so detail oriented. Authors who work on their novels for three, four, five, ten years… it seems like such a long, arduous process, and such a lonely process, and I don’t think I would want to do something that is so lonely.

What is your favorite book/TV show?
My favorite book is A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.

I have two favorite TV shows. One is not running anymore but it’s House. One of my favorite classes I teach is called “Pathophysiology in Entertainment Media,” where we look at different diseases and how they’re presented in the media, TV, movies and plays and they can be presented in any way. Sometimes we look at House. I am a bit of a House Junkie. I just consulted on a play to make sure that it is relatively consistent with being accurate. That whole issue of trying to portray diseases and disorders in an accurate way is very intriguing to me. There are times when they are [portraying diseases incorrectly] because they need to move the plot along so the disease will move along more quickly or more slowly or they’re emphasizing a symptom for the plot. I can understand and appreciate it. Sometimes when they’re just wrong that annoys me. When they could have just as easily used a different disorder to get to the same end does get aggravating.

My current favorite show is The Walking Dead. It gave me nightmares last season and I swore I wouldn’t watch it again and I’m back to watching it. The nightmares have not started up again.

What would you do if you had an extra hour every day?
I have to admit right now I would end up working. It’s been a really busy semester catching up after the hurricane. Our students are a little behind and our classes are a little behind. We’ve been doing some simulations which use high-tech mannequins to create an environment for our students like a real clinical setting and we’ve used a lot more of that this semester compared to other semesters in the past so we have taken on a big project. That combined with the backlog of work because of the hurricane has made this semester a little trying. So I would take the extra hour and play catch-up and make sure I was available for the students.

What is your favorite journey/experience?
This past summer I went with my husband and my two kids to London and that was a fun event. My kids are 19 and 16 so they are great ages and everybody could fully appreciate the trip. We all were busy the whole time and everyone went places they really wanted to go. It was a perfect trip.

What is your favorite saying/words to live by?
One thing I say that sometimes gets me into trouble (but probably gets me out of trouble more than into trouble) is “action is better than inaction.” So when I’m doing something or when I’m worried, I try to do something about it. Sometimes it gets me into a little bit of trouble because I sometimes do things without thoroughly thinking them through, but a majority of the time I end up in a better place, rather than sitting, and worrying and thinking about it. I’m a person who wants to get up and do something. “Action is better than inaction” in almost anything.

If you could have any five people, living or dead, imagined or real, as guests at a dinner party, who would you choose?
I think I would have all of my closest friends from different points of my life all together at dinner. I would have my closest grade school friend, my closest high school friend, my closest college friend, my closest friend from when my children were infants, and my closest friend now. That is who I would have all together.

Written by Pace student Sarah Aires ’14

The Professor Is In: Q&A with Andrés Villagrá

Dyson Associate Dean Andrés Villagrá talks his love of languages, what he values in his students, and more in this month’s The Professor Is In.

Associate Dean of Dyson College and professor of foreign language Andrés Villagrá, PhD, has made it his mission to revitalize education and students’ participation in the classroom using innovative techniques and technologies. He is considered a pioneer in the use of technology in the classroom in creative and interesting ways to help students better communicate in foreign languages—particularly Spanish. One of his most innovative projects: “The Spanish Lounge”, a collaborative learning space, utilizes wiki, Facebook, YouTube, and Blackboard technology to develop the skills of foreign language students. Currently, Villagrá has teamed up with the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems to develop Qué Pasa en Pace?,a project for which he received a Verizon Thinkfinity grant. The mobile app is intended to bridge the gap between prospective Latino students and the University by encouraging current students to help Hispanic students navigate college life in areas such as residential living, finding a job, and obtaining financial aid.

What was your favorite class? Least favorite?
I very much enjoyed a Latin course I took I took when I was 15 years old. There was a professor who really taught the course in a way that not only infused in me the love of Latin and languages, but also turned my student attitude around. His impact was not so much about the subject matter, but I started to love learning as an adventure and as a tool for personal growth.

The course I was not so good with was chemistry. It’s not that I didn’t perform well, but I prefer to work with abstract theories, although I can be very creative in problem-solving situations and think “outside the box” as they say.

What one thing or person made you passionate about your current career?
I have received so much support from a lot of people during my entire career, including from all of my colleagues here at Pace. Family, teachers, and friends have all helped me become who I am today, both in and out of the classroom.

What quality do you most value in your students?
I like students that show what we call “Superacion”; it means desire for self-improvement or to desire to overcome.  I love to see students that are passionate, take risks, and push themselves. Inevitably those are the students who don’t hesitate to ask for help and “pick your brain” to get a better understanding. One can immediately feel when those individuals are thirsty for knowledge and they want to get 110% of their experience as a student in your class. My job is to help them so they can take flight on their own. Thanks to Facebook, I know that one of these students is starting her PhD studies at Columbia. Those students are my inspiration. 

What’s your advice to students to make the most out of their time in college?
Explore, venture, try, engage, and try again. Ask for guidance. Learn to deal with difficulties, pressure, and challenges. Research and collaborate. Realize that your attitude, your responses to what you’re doing right now—no matter how much pressure you may be experiencing—is going to be how you will react in your first job. You hear students saying “I’m so stressed” or “It is so much work” and then those same students are at graduation telling me how quickly these four years went by. Therefore, enjoy this time in college to grow, practice, and learn. And get the most of it because these years at Pace go very fast.

If you had to do it all over again and took another path, what profession would you like to attempt? What profession would you not like to do?
When I finished high school I wanted to be a journalist, an Anderson Cooper type of person reporting on critical issues from around the world. However, there was no university program available in my city and I could not afford going to Madrid or Barcelona to study. That was the end of my dream as a TV reporter. In spite of this setback, my academic research in the study of Autobiography in Spanish and Latin American Literatures is devoted to authors and works dealing with the consequences of the Spanish Civil War, exile and imprisonment, so I kept some kind of journalism on my radar. I have a considerable amount of publications in this subject in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America.

In the last few years I have been using technology in the classroom and I very much enjoy the creativity and wide experimentation it affords. It feels very natural to me. Although I like technology, a profession I would not like is anything dealing with statistical data and administrative tasks that don’t lead to immediate improvement and growth.

What is your favorite book/TV show?
I grew up reading a lot of Jules Verne. When I was about 14 I would buy the Sunday paper that came with a sort of volume of classics of literature so I was reading almost a book a week. I was reading the greats authors of World Literature:  Victor Hugo, the classics, Cervantes, Kafka, and Proust.

At the time to decide my major, literature came very naturally for me because in class we were going over readings that I had already done. I would say my favorite writers, and well-known authors to the American audiences, are “The Garcías”: Federico García Lorca and Gabriel García Márquez. They both use a language rich of images, metaphors, and sensibility to depict the heroism, the adventure, and the tragedy in life through poetry and fiction.

I have a TV at home but rarely turn it on. I watch TV on the Internet à la carte in 5 different languages, mostly news, foreign films, and science and nature documentaries. Recently, I saw the movie The Master. I wish the director had hired me as a consultant to help that movie become “a classic” that could have been.

What would you do if you had an extra hour every day?
If I had an extra hour a day I would spend it with people. I would dedicate it to organizations I support— home food delivery to the terminally ill-people or wildlife rescue. I would really take that time to use it for others. I would invite people over for nice dinners—cooked by me—and conversation.

What is your favorite journey/experience?
For my first three years at the university, I was working full-time at a jewelry store while going to school. By the time I was in my fourth year, I quit working and started receiving unemployment help. With no immediate financial pressure on me and my family, I became one of the best students in my program. At that point, I was offered the opportunity to move to the United States to study for my PhD. I couldn’t believe it, “They’re going to pay me to study?” I could not pass on an opportunity like that. Today I am the first PhD in my family, a professor, and an Associate Dean at our prestigious University in New York.

If you could have any five people, living or dead, imagined or real, as guests at a dinner party, who would you choose?
Five people: My father who passed away when I was 11, my mother who is an advanced Alzheimer’s patient for the last 15 years, my aunt who most suffered the ravages of war, and two of my mentors, one put me on the right track and the other who pushed me to finish my doctorate. I would love the opportunity to express to them my gratitude for their confidence in me and for all the wisdom and support I received.

What is your favorite saying/words to live by?
Words to live by:  “Absorb and deliver.” Learn as much as you can and give it back to help others be better themselves at every moment.

Interview by Pace student Sarah Aires ’14

The Professor Is In: Q&A with Allen Oren

Professor Allen Oren talks about his years in the Holy Land, his Emmy experience, what it takes to get an “A” in his class, and much more in this month’s issue of The Professor Is In.

He’s an award-winning director and producer, a globetrotting journalist, and an accomplished writer, but in his spare time, Allen Oren, Dyson associate professor of Media and Communication Arts, calls the Pleasantville Campus home base. During his professional career, Oren has worked as a freelance writer and columnist in Israel, as the Entertainment Editor for USA Today, and as a producer and reporter for the MSG Network. It was during his time at MSG that he researched, wrote, and produced the Emmy Award-winning documentary on the history of Madison Square Garden, The World’s Most Famous Arena And How It Got That Way. Over the years, Oren has been nominated for several Emmy Awards including two 2012 nominations in the categories of Religion and Research for his documentary 18 Voices Sing Kol Nidre, which tells the story of Judaism’s most sacred prayer.

What was your favorite class as a student? Least favorite?
I loved a two-year core course called “Contemporary Civilization.” It was basically a quick tour of world history, intellectual history, and artistic history; I liked it so much I created my own more intensive version when I graduated.

I took a year off between undergrad and grad school and read (and listened and looked) my way through history. The idea was to fill some of the holes I still had in my education and also to put what I had learned into a firmer context. So I proceeded chronologically—creation of the universe, ancient history, medieval history, and so on—starting each era with an overall history of that period, then biographies of the key personalities of that period, then a sample of their key works. Each morning I made my way to a library like others made their way to work, and one year, 400 books, and assorted artworks later, I re-joined the present day.

Least favorite class?  I got a solid C in statistics.

What one thing or person made you passionate about your current career?
I guess it was in the genes. Both my mother and father were good writers and speakers and, as important for me as a journalist, they both asked well and listened well. So, by second grade I was editing a mimeographed penny weekly at school, with Mom, of course, as assistant editor.

And my uncle was a professional journalist who moved to Israel. So I, after journalism grad school, decided to take a two-week trip to the Holy Land… which led to a two-month language lab there… which stretched to four years as a magazine writer there, where I found, among other things, my journalistic voice.

What quality do you most value in your students?
Originality, creativity. I went into features rather than news because it allows subjects and style that are more creative. I went into broadcast after print because it offers more tools to be creative—not just words, but pictures, sound, voice, music, graphics, special effects.

I always tell students I don’t give extra credit work, but the truth is when I grade a student’s article or broadcast or speech, I subconsciously give bonus credit for originality. I sometimes give the same grade to an original that falters as to a predictable that succeeds.

What’s your advice to students to make the most out of their time in college?
See the course catalogue as a giant buffet, a smorgasbord, an all-you-can-eat. It’s your opportunity to try things as you will never be able to again. Sure, specialize in a major that may lead to work. But then diversify, become better-rounded. A great college art course helped me see better, a great college music course helped me hear better, a great philosophy course helped me wonder better. I probably broke the record for most departments sampled in a college career, but it’s a record I’m proud of and that served me well later.

If you had to do it all over again and took another path, what profession would you like to attempt? What profession would you not like to do?
As a journalist, I was fortunate to touch on a lot of the professions I would have enjoyed. For example, I’ve been an arts critic and editor for many years, and can see myself enjoying being a filmmaker, a photographer, a musician, an architect.

I was a psych major in college (though I really majored in the campus newspaper) and almost switched to psych as a career at one point. It’s no coincidence that much of my journalistic work was profiles of people. I’ve long said that a good journalist and a good therapist are very similar: Both get to know their subjects intimately and sensitively, but the journalist is paid to make it public, the therapist is paid to keep it private.

A job that’s not for me? I once did a magazine piece on a guy who stood in a glass booth against the tile wall inside the Lincoln Tunnel, looking for car emergencies. He was a nice guy who passed his eight-hour shift making Rorschach patterns from the tiles across the way. I stood with him, but very restlessly. I called the piece, “Looking for a Breakdown.”

What is your favorite book/TV show?
The book I’m in the middle of is Imagine by Jonah Lehrer, about the essence of creativity. It’s really a fascinating book and a tragedy that it became mired in ethical scandal. I kept reading anyway because, though quotes were admittedly altered, my guess is the book is generally well reported and the underlying themes are very compelling.

My favorite TV show varies, though the network doesn’t. The show always stands in a long line of HBO series, from The Sopranos to Curb Your Enthusiasm to The Wire to Deadwood to Treme to the current The Newsroom. Actually, The Newsroom is only half good, but that half is very good. The show is a very adult, sophisticated take on the important issues of current journalism, but a very juvenile, simplistic take on romance and relationships. A schizophrenic series, sums up this critic.

What would you do if you had an extra hour every day?
I’d bank the hours. That way I’d have an extra day every 24 days, an extra 15 days every year, and, over an 80-year lifetime, I could add 1,200 days. For those extra three years, I’d be very thankful.

What is your favorite journey/experience?
My most recent favorite was the journey of producing and directing an independent documentary, 18 Voices Sing Kol Nidre. It was the story of Judaism’s most sacred prayer, the Kol Nidre chant that starts Yom Kippur, as told by 18 people who were touched by it.

I had always done my broadcast pieces as an employee of stations or networks, but this topic was so esoteric I knew it wouldn’t attract interest as just a concept. So my wife and I financed the production ourselves in the hope that a finished product would find support.

It did. The 40-minute piece was picked up by WNET-Channel 13 in New York, then a national PBS distributor, then a documentary distributor. The last two falls it has aired in 75 PBS markets across the US, including nearly all the largest. And this High Holiday season “18 Voices,” which was nominated for two Emmys, will air again.

What is your favorite saying/words to live by?
I guess it’s more of a visual. Those who’ve seen my desk at Pace know that on one corner is an item I pieced together myself. On each of the scales of an old scale of justice I placed a cardboard box with a hand-written label. One says, “As it is.” The other says, “As it should be.” I change which scale is higher or lower depending on how I’m feeling about the world. But the point—the saying you asked for—is that life is always a struggle between the real and the ideal.

If you could have any five people, living or dead, imagined or real, as guests at a dinner party, who would you choose?
Well, since the question mixes actual and imagined, I’d choose five fascinating personalities in history—there are more than enough to choose from—and imagine they had lived five years longer. I’d then ask that the topic of their dinner conversation be how they had lived their final five years, and why that way.

The Professor Is In: Q&A with Kathy Winsted

Professor Kathy Winsted talks about her days riding a motorcycle to work for Jimmy Carter, words of advice for students, why she gave up calculus, and more, in this month’s The Professor Is In.

By Pace student Helen Arase ’14

When she gets a break from being an avid reader or supportive mom to her three kids in college, Professor Kathy Winsted, PhD, teaches at the Pleasantville Campus and is Associate Director of Lubin’s Business Honors Program. She has an extensive resume in entrepreneurship and public administration. Winsted has founded and run multiple small businesses and has been producing them right and left since college! During her undergraduate years in Vermont she ran a small newspaper, at Harvard she founded a coffee house, and later set up her consulting business in Colorado. Joining academia was a late career choice for Winsted, but, inspired by her father, she’s changing the lives of students every day. She is responsible for the beginning of the Pace Perk Café, which is now student run and operated. Winsted is looking forward to working with Pace’s Entrepreneurship Lab which is teaching students the skills to become successful entrepreneurs.

What was your favorite class as a student? Least favorite?
My least favorite was calculus: calculus and physics. I went to school as a physics major and both my calculus professor and my physics professor spent their whole time with their backs turned to us writing formulas on the board. I loved math and physics until then, but I hated those classes and stopped taking both math and science. My favorite class was a labor relations course I took at Harvard Business School. We had an exercise to try to negotiate a contract and I was on the management team. I still remember it because I negotiated the best contract in the class. It was real, experience based, and something I was proud of.

What one thing or person made you passionate about your current career?
My father. He was a professor and Dean of the business school at Clarkson University. He got me thinking about an academic career–that it was a good way to raise a family and have time in the summer to do things with your family.  He also gave me a love of lifelong learning. He wrote the business simulations that I now use in my Business 150 class. He definitely inspired me.

What quality do you most value in your students?
An interest in learning. That they are attentive and they want to learn. When you get one [student] that really wants to learn, it’s exciting.

What’s your advice to students to make the most out of their time in college?
Get involved, have lots of different experiences, and view everything as a learning experience. Look at lots of different ways to learn, not just the courses you’re getting credit for. Leadership in organizations can be a wonderful opportunity. I advise the Pace Perk. They learn so much by running that business, where they are learning outside the classroom, as well as in. And, of course, internships are important.

If you had to do it all over again and took another path, what profession would you like to attempt? What profession would you not like to do?
I always thought I’d like to be a second grade teacher. Because you’re teaching kids right when they’re starting the learning curve, and you can teach a little bit of everything. I actually trained to be a town manager in government. I did an internship when I was in college; I wanted to be a town manager. I worked in government for the first half of my career. I’ve had a lot of jobs—waitressing, bus driving—all kinds of job that people don’t think are fun, but I’ve enjoyed every one of them for various reasons. I would hate a job for which I had to do exactly the same thing every day and where there wasn’t any room for growth, or innovation, or improvement. The military is another job I would hate because I don’t like following instructions without having a chance to question them. I like to be able to think about how I want to do things.

What is your favorite book/TV show?
I like the Jody Picoult books. I pretty much like anything she’s ever written because I like reading about general life stories. One of my favorites is 19 Minutes.  I like American Idol, I don’t know if I should admit it… I just love a good human interest story. I love a success story. I love to see those kids having their dreams come true. You get so happy for them when they succeed.

What would you do if you had an extra hour every day?
Sleep. Except that’s not really true, because I don’t sleep as much as I could. But that’s what I need… I would also probably read more, for fun.

What is your favorite journey/experience?
I worked at the White House for a while, when Jimmy Carter was president. And that was just fascinating. I also rode a motorcycle at the time. The Associated Press wrote an article about me headlined “President’s energy aide practices what she preaches” and they wrote all about how I was riding a motorcycle to save energy.What I was really doing was riding a motorcycle because I liked it.

What is your favorite saying/words to live by?
I have two favorite sayings: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”—Henry Ford

I tell that to my students. Confidence and believing in yourself is key to everything.

The other is “Things turn out the best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.”–John Wooden

I like it because people say, “Oh you’re so lucky” or “Things always work out for you”… No, it’s just that whatever does happen, I make the best of it. You make it work out.

If you could have any five people, living or dead, imagined or real, as guests at a dinner party, who would you choose?
The first thing I thought of was my family, because we’re all spread out, and there are five of us. My second thought was some of my best female friends here at Pace. But if you want famous people: Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), Barack Obama, Abraham Lincoln, Rachel Maddow, and Jane Lynch.

The Professor Is In: Q&A with Bill Offutt

History Professor Bill Offutt discusses why he gave up law for teaching, how he survived on bottle deposits in Germany, the five people he’d have over for dinner, and more, in this month’s The Professor Is In.

Born in Washington, DC, a city rich with history, it’s no surprise that Bill Offutt, PhD, ended up fascinated by it. Earning his bachelor’s degree in History from Stanford University, Offutt went on to law school at Stanford. Despite passing the California Bar, he literally laid down the law to attend graduate school at Johns Hopkins University in early American history, where he received a PhD in 1987.  After three years of academic apprenticeships at Pacific Lutheran University and Baylor University, he came to Pace as an Assistant Professor in 1990. His book, Of Good Laws and Good Men:  Law and Society in the Delaware Valley 1680-1710 published in 1995, inspired his research to turn to colonial and revolutionary New York. That focus led into his second book, Patriots, Loyalists and Revolution in New York City 1775-1776, which has been used as part of a simulation game in the “Reacting to the Past” series sponsored by Barnard and has been adopted by dozens of colleges and universities in the United States and around the world, including Egypt and Australia.

In 2001, Offutt became Director of Pace’s Honors Program for New York City, which is now the Pforzheimer Honors College.  Since 2007, he has served as Faculty Adviser for the Pforzheimer Honors College.  He is also the coordinator for the Dyson Houses project, which offers Dyson students a variety of intellectual, cultural, and social activities, and provides a home away from home.

What was your favorite class as a student? Least favorite?
Favorite class comes in two flavors—Most important was my first colonial American history class, which I took when I was a freshman. The young professor (Alasdair MacPhail) was the most dynamic, well-informed, and clever person I had ever met, and he hooked me on the subject by asking me to join his upper-level colloquium on colonial social history the next term, a course filled with senior History majors. Even though I was in way-over-my-head, that positive comment changed my life.  The most fun was a class in civil engineering a friend of mine had me take, which dealt with solar collectors, wind generators, methane digesters, and other oddball things that he called “designs in alternative energy systems.” That course not only engaged my problem-solving brain in technical ways, the prof made what we call today “green solutions” seem not only possible but enjoyable. I also remember his aphorism regarding the life-span of nuclear waste and how long it takes to decay—“it takes a long time to wait forever,” a saying that has many uses beyond power plants.

Least favorite classes were in law school (many choices here), but I’d have to say my course in Property was the most awful. The professor spoke in monotone, the subject was completely arcane, the discussions were trivial, and my interest was low. A close second comes the law school prof whom we used to count how many “you knows” he used in every class. My (failing) memory has him doing 60 “you knows” in a 5-minute period.

What one thing or person made you passionate about your current career?
While in law school, Professor Robert Keohane gave me a chance to be a teaching assistant for his introductory course in international relations. I had worked with him as an undergraduate, I had a blind faith that I could teach the class better than the TAs who’d taught me, and I was miserable contemplating a law career. He set me in front of three sections of Stanford undergrads even when I wasn’t his grad student, and authorized me to lead them through his material and to grade their performance. I threw myself into class preparation (ignoring my law courses), I energized my students, and it turned out (by the course evaluations) that I was indeed better at it than the regular grad students. Finding out that I didn’t have to be a mediocre attorney but instead that I could be a great teacher made me passionate about becoming a professor and then developing my talent for teaching over the years.

What quality do you most value in your students?
Intensity. I have seen many students (and my own teenaged children) express a “meh” attitude about many things (sometimes everything) and it drives me nuts. I have no delusion that students should be intense about every class, or even about my classes, but I would like them to feel intensely about something. It is only through that combination of interest, effort, and focus that a person can be his/her best. Athletes call it getting into the “zone” where the game slows down, the mind and body are working in unison, and the sport’s difficulties become easy. Intensity is much harder now given the number of distractions available to students, but it is still what I value most.

What’s your advice to students to make the most out of their time in college?
I find it hard to give global advice to college students, because as my 18-year old daughter says (with great validity as well as force) “I don’t know her life.” But, knowing that free advice is worth what you’ve paid for it, here are two aphorisms to live by, in college as well as later: 1) People are more important than things. 2) Follow your bliss (footnote: Joseph Campbell). Most of what you’ll remember about your college years will involve one or both of those rules.

If you had to do it all over again and took another path, what profession would you like to attempt? What profession would you not like to do?
Assuming I had the talent, I’d want to be a professional baseball player; lacking talent but given the opportunity, I’d want to be a baseball general manager like Billy Beane/Brad Pitt in the movie Moneyball. I was an early adopter of what is today called Fantasy Baseball but back in the early 1980s was called “Rotisserie Baseball.” My interest in statistics and quantitative analysis, which I’ve used as a historian, began as a child who memorized the back of baseball cards and played “Strat-o-Matic” table-top baseball. I knew I could evaluate baseball talent better than the bozos who ran the Washington Senators in the 1960s; I proved it in my fantasy leagues of the 1980s; and I wish I had the chance to run a real team today.

The answer to what profession I’d not want to do is the one I already rejected: lawyer. I passed the bar but never practiced law. Although the knowledge of the law’s history and development still engages me, the anxiety of the work plus my own mediocre talents would have destroyed my happiness.

What is your favorite book/TV show?
TV—The  Simpsons. Far and away, the best writing and most apt commentary on modern American life. My office is littered with Simpsons memorabilia.

Book—Currently, Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow. The author is a Nobel Prize winner on behavioral economics, but the book also summarizes his deeper work into the psychological processes behind our decision-making and its errors. It’s changing how I think and more importantly how I help other people think through things.

What would you do if you had an extra hour every day?
Sleep. I would insert the hour between 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. I have always been an insomniac, who found it hard to turn off his brain. Thus I get to bed too late and get up too early (for children and/or work), and am constantly tired. Sleep deprivation in its extreme can lead to psychotic behavior, although I don’t believe I ever made it that far during my kids’ infancies. However, accumulated sleep deficits have proven to make you stupid. More sleep would make me smarter and happier, and I know that’s true for my students too.

What is your favorite journey/experience?
As a grad student, I met and married my wife, Nancy Reagin, who was starting her work in German women’s history. She gained a fellowship to do her dissertation research in Germany, and even though I knew no German and had never been off the North American continent, I went with her as the “trailing spouse” for a year—the German fellowship paid a little bit extra for me to be there. We lived in a fifth-floor walk-up in Hannover, surviving at the end of the month on bottle deposits; we went to England, the Netherlands, and into East Germany (behind the Berlin Wall in 1986); and while she worked in the archives I wrote the bulk of my dissertation. I met people, did things, learned stuff I could never have anticipated. The year in Germany (though I learned very little German) altered my perspective on the rest of the world forever.

What is your favorite saying/words to live by?
Aside from the two items above (people are more important than things; follow your bliss), I would say this: If you have a chance to do something nice for someone, do it. Don’t worry about what it looks like, or whether you’ll be taken advantage of, or even what the consequences will be. Random acts of kindness are worth doing in and of themselves. And that is true even though, as another favorite aphorism of mine says, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

If you could have any five people, living or dead, imagined or real, as guests at a dinner party, who would you choose?
I am going to narrow this to my field, American History, as well as to ignore the obvious answers of noteworthy figures. As a social historian who believes in oral history, I am primarily interested in what average people thought at various points in American life, so here’s who I’d like to talk with:

1) a colonial Pennsylvania Quaker, circa 1710 (to find out if what I wrote in my first book on that society bore any relation to reality)

2) a revolutionary New York woman, circa 1775, to find out what she thought was going to happen to her country and for women

3) a freed slave who joined the Union Army in 1864 and who lived ‘til the 1890s, to find out what had gone right and what had gone wrong

4) an immigrant woman/union activist from the early 1900s who survived the Triangle Shirtwaist fire and the Great Depression, to understand the interaction of great movements with personal experience

5) a 22 year old college grad in 1965, who had participated in civil rights actions but was now facing the draft to go to Vietnam

I think these people would have something to say to each other, as well as to me.

The Professor Is In: Q&A with Claudia Green

Lubin professor Claudia Green, who’s involved with a sustainability initiative in preparation for the World Cup and Olympics in Brazil, talks about traveling with students, how a birthday card changed the lives of her and her family, and much more in the third installment of The Professor Is In!

Shortly after meeting Professor Claudia Green, PhD, it is clear why students have selected her as one of their favorite professors at Pace’s New York City Campus. Remaining true to her field, she maintains an intense professionalism while still managing to be approachable if not entirely personable. It is this straightforward demeanor coupled with the dedication to her students both inside and outside the classroom that make her teaching methods all the more effective.

In addition to her duties as an Associate Professor of Management, teaching courses ranging from safety and security in hospitality and tourism to restaurant management and travel and tourism management, it is her other roles as Director of the Lubin School of Business’ Hospitality and Management Program and former Executive Director of the Center for Global Business Programs at Pace that have brought her the most professional satisfaction.

Though she resides in New York City, Green admits that she travels once or twice a month outside the city. Her travels, whether work related or personal, have taken her to places such as Greece, Italy, Portugal, Brazil, Canada, Belize, Aruba, Costa Rica, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Thailand, to name a few. Her trips to Brazil enable her to focus on sustainable tourism and resources as well as the implementing of Green Mapping, in which students interview local business on their practices as means of creating a map for tourists offering an authentic Brazilian experiences.

Having traveled to Brazil a total of 18 times, Professor Green confesses that the most rewarding trips there have been the 11 in which she has traveled there with students. Seeing students arrive with preconceived notions of the culture, society, and business environment, and return with an entirely different point of view after immersing themselves in the Brazil first-hand is most rewarding.

Most recently, Professor Green was featured on NPR as part of “The Global Salon,” which features different cities around the world. This series, highlighting Rio de Janeiro, Brazil allowed Green to promote her work as organizer of the “Rio Green Map” initiative on sustainable development in preparation for Rio+20, World Cup 2014, and Olympics 2016. She is also the spearheading Amigos Digitais, a non-profit organization that allows students (grades K-9) in the favelas of Rio with students in the Lower East Side for cultural and educational exchange. Though a frequent traveler, never quite in one place too long, we are glad to be part of a University in which she can call home.

What was your favorite class as a student? Least favorite?
You can probably guess, it was a geography class, where we had to learn about different countries of the world and their capitals and I remember that from the 5th grade. My least favorite was finance…I like creative endeavors, and you’ll see that when you see with whom I have selected to “have dinner.”

What one thing or person made you passionate about your current career?
The thing that makes me passionate about my career is that I teach tourism and focus on sustainable tourism and development. I think that through tourism, you really learn to take everything you’ve learned in your life and put it together. Tourism is history, geography, culture, economy, politics, society, environment—it’s everything. It is the convergence of all those disciplines that  helps you have a global view of how the world works and how dependent we are upon each other.

What quality do you most value in your students?
What I value in the students is their drive and their passion for what they want. It is a gift to be able to find your passion and follow it. A good number of students are able to do that. Even if they go down a wrong path, they learn from it and redirect into another path.

What’s your advice to students to make the most out of their time in college?
Be involved, take risks, explore and make sure they have an international experience.

If you had to do it all over again and took another path, what profession would you like to attempt? What profession would you not like to do?
I would want to be a technology guru and travel around the world and teach. I’d really promote technology that would empower people. A profession I would not like to attempt is anything that has me sitting behind a desk all day long.

What is your favorite book/TV show?
I really don’t usually watch TV, but, if I do, it is usually Geographic and The Discovery Channel. With regards to books, I like reading Thomas L. Friedman’s books.

What would you do if you had an extra hour every day?
I’d go to the Apple store in SoHo and hang out with the Geniuses and the Creatives and work on a project—I do that all the time. I make podcasts, movies, and videos. For my son’s birthday, I scanned pictures from when he was young, set them to music, launched on Vimeo, and sent him the link.

What is your favorite journey/experience?
Going to Brazil with students for the past 11 years has been my best experience. I’ve been there a total 18 times. It is actually more fun when I go with the students than when I go on my own. I love to see them learn and experience Brazil. It is empowering to help them open their minds to other cultures and societies.

What is your favorite saying/words to live by?
There’s a whole poem here, “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver, but the thing that’s most important to me is the line, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?”

There’s a story behind that: My son gave me a birthday card that had that phrase. He left and went to Cameroon for the Peace Corps for two years.  Then, right after I got that card, I quit my job and moved to New York. I gave that card to my middle daughter. She quit her job in Greensboro, North Carolina and moved to Silicon Valley, California. She gave the card to her younger sister who quit her job, sold everything she owned, and travelled  around the world for 18 months. It’s kind of our family mantra.

If you could have any five people, living or dead, imagined or real, as guests at a dinner party, who would you choose?
This was so hard. I’ve been going over it, eliminating and adding. Steve Jobs, Steven Spielberg, Ken Burns, Jon Stewart, and Richard Branson. There’s a common thread of creative people who think outside the box and think differently.

There’s a Steve Jobs quote that I like “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes…the ones who see things differently—they’re not fond of rules…You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things…they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

This interview has been edited and condensed from its original form.

–Jordan Veilleux ‘13

The Professor Is In: Q&A with Chris Walther

Why Jessica Biel and Gandhi? Let Professor Chris Walther explain it. Check out part two in the series, The Professor Is In by Pace student Jordan Veilleux ’13.

Pace alumnus and Adjunct Professor of Psychology Christopher Walther ’02 has established himself as a prominent member of the Pace Community. Currently based out of the Pleasantville Campus, he works as a Pforzheimer Honors College Academic Adviser, as well as adviser to the Golden Key International Honor Society and the UNICEF C.H.I.L.D. Project. In 2009-2010 he was a bronze winner of the Jefferson Awards, the “Nobel Peace Prize of Public Service.”

One of Walther’s favorite classes to teach is Psychology of Civic Engagement, a class that pairs traditional classroom studies with a travel course. The course implements a little bit of everything important to Walther: mentoring, travel, psychology, and pro-social behaviors and has taken Walther and his students to exotic locations such as Fiji and Trinidad and Tobago. Outside of Psychology of Civic Engagement, Walther’s methods are just as effective… and recognized–students recently voted him one of their favorite professors in the Pulse’s Pawscars. He teaches courses including Social Psychology and Psychology of Personal Adjustment, Psychopathology, and Psychology of Cultural Diversity, and continues to form a connection with students encouraging in them an educated outlook at the world around us, honesty, humor, dedication, charity, and most of all motivation to make a difference.

What was your favorite class as a student?
Besides the psychology courses I took as an undergrad and through my graduate degree, my favorite course was probably my photography course. I really like the idea of actually creating something from scratch—creating a picture.

What one thing or person made you passionate about your current career?
I think there have been many people, many situations that have inspired me throughout my life. Such as the volunteering opportunities I’ve been a part of, the various internships and jobs I’ve held, the people, colleagues and professors I’ve met along the way, and I think my students make me passionate about my career…Just reaching out to so many people and students through what I teach and what I say—that makes me extremely passionate about my career.

What quality do you most value in your students?
I would definitely say motivation. Not only to set goals, but to follow through with those goals with an action to achieve them is the quality I most value in students. I see students every day that just seem lost, who just don’t know where to go. Then you have the flipside—students that are highly motivated, students who set goals and follow through with them through action. It’s one thing to say, “This is what I want to do,” but how do you plan on getting there?

What is your advice to students to make the most out of their time in college?
I definitely think students need to be engaged in the University experience. They need to become involved in University life. I personally believe that at Pace University you can be a big fish in a small pond, if you think it, you can actually make it happen [at Pace].

If you had to do it all over again and took another path, what profession would you attempt? What profession would you not like to do?
Definitely a zoologist! Growing up there were many different careers I thought of and I’ve always had a passion and interest in animals and helping so to be a zoologist and work at a zoo would be amazing.

I grew up in Manhattan, born and raised, and now I live about an hour and a half out of the city. Just doing [chores] around the house—landscaping, mowing the lawn, raking leaves, fixing things—I dread so much. Any career that involves landscaping, construction, fixing things is definitely not for me.

What is your favorite TV show/book?
My favorite TV show by far is The Amazing Race. It’s all about travel and competition, which are two things that I enjoy. I actually tried out for the show twice, but unfortunately never got called back. You can’t beat the travel. Seeing the world and trying to win a million dollars paired together is great.

I would say my favorite book is one I read recently—and one which I really enjoyed and made part of a few of my psychology classes—Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s about making spontaneous decisions, good or bad, versus decisions that are planned out.

What is your favorite journey/experience?
My travel experiences, definitely within the courses that I have taught and all the locations I have been to through civic engagement. Just this year my wife and I took a cruise to Europe—we visited Italy, Greece, and Turkey…Europe was amazing and it was my first cruise. It was a great experience.

I’m big into traveling. I encourage students to study abroad. I help them when they create four-year plans to incorporate either a study abroad experience or to take a University travel course.

What is your favorite saying/words to live by?
I went to Catholic school from kindergarten to 12th grade; I would say the Serenity Prayer. [Ed note: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…] I definitely try to live by those words within my life.

If you could have any five people, living or dead, imagined or real, as guests at a dinner party, who would you choose?
This is the toughest question of the bunch! Martin Luther King Jr.—I would want him at the party to talk to him about equality, to bring him along to show him how equality has changed from when he passed to today, and to hear his view points on how equality could be different in the years to come and advance further. Gandhi—I am big into helping, civic engagement, and pro-social behavior and I think Gandhi is an inspiration for such, so to have him there would be great. My Hollywood crush, Jessica Biel. Jane Goodall—I find her amazing for the life she led and for being an advocate for animals, and the one person who can really make me laugh, the comedienne Kathy Griffin. I find her hysterical!

This interview has been edited and condensed from its original form. Faculty profiles are based on student suggestions.

–Jordan Veilleux