Making Peace: A Q&A with Emily Welty

Dyson Professor and Director of Peace and Justice Studies on the NYC Campus, Emily Welty, PhD, discusses her experiences with conflict and peacemaking both abroad and right here on Wall Street.

Emily Welty, PhD, is no stranger to conflict—well, studying conflict, that is. She recently completed a major research project that served as the basis of her doctoral work, during which time she spent a year in Uganda and Kenya observing the faith-based peace building by nongovernmental development organizations, the Mennonite Central Committee in particular. Welty is also part of a seven-year advisory board with the World Council of Churches, where she works to help churches think about how to engage in international affairs, peacemaking, and social justice.

Most recently, Welty collaborated with fellow Pace faculty members including Matthew Bolton, PhD, Meghana Nayak, PhD, and Chris Malone, PhD, on a book entitled Occupying Political Science: The Occupy Wall Street Movement from New York to the World. The book, which will be published in January 2013, focuses on how political science helps to explain Occupy Wall Street and what Occupy Wall Street demonstrates about political science. Welty’s research examines the different ways nonviolent tactics have been used by Occupy Wall Street.

You address peacemaking from several different perspectives, but your specialty is the “religious dimension of conflict and peacemaking.” Why do you suppose religion plays such a crucial role and what have you learned from your personal research experiences?
Conflict affects everyone and often many of the dynamics that make conflict feel particularly uncomfortable is that it calls into question central, core parts of our identity or worldview. Globally, we see many conflicts both internationally as well as domestically that involve core tenets of people’s identity. Faith, religion, and spirituality represent core identity tenets for many people— they are among the nonnegotiable aspects of our personal identity. So, when that identity is challenged, it is particularly difficult.

I first became interested in studying religious dimensions of peacemaking because I was frustrated by the way that religion was often blamed for causing conflict. My experiences living and studying in Palestine/Israel, South Africa, and Northern Ireland as a Watson fellow made me realize that religion is a force for both conflict and peace. In all three of those cases, religion has been used by parties to justify violence but there have also been tremendous voices for peace coming out of the religious groups. I find religion fascinating—the more I learn about the strong peacemaking and social justice traditions in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, the more interested and excited I become about the power of religion to be a force for peacemaking.

What is one surprising or unexpected thing you’ve learned while conducting your research?
I feel really strongly about the importance of approaching research with both passion and curiosity. It is more important to know how to ask good questions and listen than it is to try to be an expert or tell people how to do things. I think I bring this same sensibility with me into the classroom. My students have wonderfully rich personal experiences that they bring with them to Pace; I see my role here as helping them to think about their own story by using peace and justice studies theory.

I have also been continually surprised and grateful for the hospitality I have been offered in almost every context that I have worked. Many religious traditions refer to the tradition of offering hospitality to the stranger and I have seen that in practice throughout my work. Throughout my research in East Africa, dozens of Ugandans, Kenyans, and North American volunteers spent hundreds of hours with me sharing their story. That kind of abundant generosity is humbling and an enormous privilege. As a researcher, having so many people help you in so many ways, means you must produce the finest quality work to honor them.

What do you hope to gain or learn by continuing research into conflict and peacemaking?
My larger goal is to help the process of peace and justice studies become part of the mainstream curriculum at universities—it is a wonderful interdisciplinary field and so many different disciplines have much to offer.

In my own research, I hope to continue to understand how contemporary faith traditions can draw on their own cherished traditions in order to end the suffering of others. I am very inspired by so many of the people I meet around the world who are practicing nonviolence and making enormous sacrifices for peace—I see my role as a researcher as helping to tell their stories. I want to change the perception that religion is a cause of conflict.

Do you have any other research plans for the future?
I am getting ready to leave for a trip to Sri Lanka and Myanmar/Burma to speak to several religious leaders about reconciliation. While most of my research has been international, I am interested in looking at the role of religion in social justice movements here in New York City as well. There has been intriguing work by faith leaders involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement that I would like to examine further.

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 Jim Lawler

Did you know that Seidenberg Professor Jim Lawler is an undercover history buff and world traveler? When he’s not meeting penguins in Patagonia and the Sultan in Oman, read how he gave up being a corporate exec for encouraging students to help underprivileged members of society in this month’s The Professor Is In!

Seidenberg Professor of Information Technology Jim Lawler, PhD, has a lot of hidden talents up his sleeves. Known for his generosity and kindness, as well as having a passion for helping others, Professor Lawler enriches the lives of Pace students and young adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities through the use of technology in his Community Empowerment through Information Systems Course (CIS 102W). Lawler is encouraging both students and young people in the community to work together, and helps build both relationships and rewarding experiences.

In 2010, Professor Lawler was the recipient of a national Jefferson Award for Community Service, and was specifically noted for his involvement with AHRC NYC, a nonprofit organization in Lower Manhattan dedicated to serving individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

What was your favorite class as a student? Least favorite?
My favorite class as a college student was marketing, and my least favorite class was statistics.

What was one thing or person that made you passionate about your current career?
From my corporate experience at Merrill Lynch from 1976 to1998 in managing an internal learning organization, I learned that helping others in the learning of computer technology had an immediate impact on personal performance, which was a consideration that motivated me to begin a concurrent career as an Adjunct Professor at Pace from 1983 to 2001 and as a Professor from 2002 to the present at the Seidenberg School.

What quality do you most value in your students?
The quality that I value most in my students is self-motivation to succeed, which is a quality that I require of students that are in my extra-curricular programs of service that are helping teenagers and young adults with disabilities at the University.

What’s your advice to students to make the most out of their time in college?
I would encourage undergraduate students to be engaged in different extra-curricular programs not only in their fields of study but also in other fields in the schools of the University, from which they would develop a network of faculty and students that would be helpful to them when they graduate from the University, and I would encourage them to be engaged in community organization projects in helping others less fortunate than themselves. Education is not only learning but also engagement in the life of a university.  Few students leverage the advantages of extra-curricular programs at a university.

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 had to do it over again, I would prefer to be a professor upon graduation from university, and not be a corporate executive, which was my official profession until I joined Pace as a non-adjunct professor in 2002. Though the compensation as an executive of Merrill Lynch was exceptionally great, the experience of helping others, as I am helping students and those not as fortunate in society, is greater than in a corporate organization. The impact on others is greater in a university.

What is your favorite book/TV show?
My favorite books are generally 20th century history, and my favorite TV is the history and military channels, though my favorites in entertainment are the Met operas of Wagner and the plays of Shakespeare at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Lantern Theater (Philadelphia).

What would you do if you had an extra hour every day?
If I had an extra hour every day, I would read even more history.

What is your favorite journey/experience?
My favorite journey was to Antarctic and Patagonia in South America in 2006, where I met millions of penguins, and my favorite exotic journeys were to India in 2008, where I met in person the actress Aishwarya Rai, and to Oman in 2004, where I met the Sultan.

What is your favorite saying/words to live by?
“Three Glories of Speech: Brevity, Steadiness and Wisdom”—from the precepts of King Cormac as recorded in the Irish ”Book of Leinster.”

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 choose Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Harry Truman, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan—my favorite presidents.

Interview by Pace student Helen Arase ‘14

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

The Professor Is In: Q&A with Karla Jay

The first in a brand new series. Pace student Jordan Veilleux ’13 chats with Karla Jay, PhD, on what she loves about Pace students, the five people she’d invite to dinner, filleting sardines, and more!

People often say, “to know them is to love them” and upon meeting Karla Jay, PhD, distinguished professor of English and Women and Gender studies at Pace’s New York City Campus, it is easy to see why students feel so passionate about her teaching methods. Both inside and outside the classroom Jay is a force to be reckoned with. A noted writer, editor, political activist, and professor, she exudes an authority in the classroom while still being approachable and genuine. Her classes range from The 20th Century Novel to Queer Culture and provide insight to topics through a combination of Jay’s seemingly effortless lectures and the general understanding that students not only participate in class discussion, but also help structure it.

Recently Jay was interviewed by director Jeffrey Schwartz for his new documentary Vito about author and activist Vito Russo who played a large role in the LGBT movement, and whom Jay knew personally through their mutual involvement with the Gay Academic Union, the 1973 Gay Pride March, and a variety show called Our Time, which featured not only Jay but also high profile actresses such as Lily Tomlin. The film was picked up by HBO Films for distribution, and plans to air the film on the network sometime in June. Jay plays coy about her exposure in the film and using her signature wit states that she only appears for what can only be termed, “nanoseconds.” The experience, however short, was ultimately a positive one for Jay in which she could look back and contribute not only to the memory of a friend, but also to that of a cause worth fighting for. It is qualities like these that affirm Jay’s success, and make us appreciate her all the more.

What was your favorite class as student? Least favorite?
I don’t know that I had a favorite class when I was student. I had a favorite professor as an undergraduate, my French professor. He was really good and it didn’t matter what he was teaching.

I have two least favorites. A zoology professor who read from his textbook in a huge lecture hall with hundreds of students and we’d all sit there as he read and we’d all turn the page with him. And an American history professor who was somehow stuck in the colonial period! She dressed with buckle shoes and a black dress and she just kind of was early Puritan and it was really quite horrifying. She was very boring. Those were my two least favorite classes, not because of the topics.

What one thing or person made you passionate about your current career?
From a certain point I just wanted to teach and in some ways I had a number of negative experiences [in the classroom] that made me feel I could do a lot better than what I had been given. It wasn’t one person but a series of experiences that made me feel I could contribute to the field. I was particularly interested in teaching first-generation college students.

What quality do you most value in your students?
What I really like about Pace students is that they are really outspoken. They say what’s on their mind and it’s not always what you think you are going hear.

What is your advice to students to make the most out of their time in college?
They should use college to explore things that they don’t know about because they’re not going to get this kind of opportunity again. I think some students waste their time taking “gut” courses that they already know about because they find it easy…Whereas it’s so much more compelling to learn something that you don’t know anything about and you’ll never have the opportunity during your work career, probably, to learn about that again and you may have to wait a very long time.

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?
I don’t know because I really did take a lot of paths. I’ve worked in publishing as an editor; I’ve been a literary agent, a beach-bum and a hippie, a full-time activist. I lived in Paris as a writer, I lived as a freelance writer and journalist…I don’t know that there was something out there that I wanted to do that I didn’t try and I have no regrets about that.

I have a list of my least favorite things: my least favorite jobs would be toll-taker at the Holland Tunnel or filleting sardines. I don’t know how people do that! Anything that would involve filleting fish.

What is your favorite TV show/book?
My favorite book is Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past. I think it’s not only the most complex and interesting book that you can read and reread, but it has a kind of compelling beauty that grows with time.

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

What is your favorite journey/experience?
My favorite trip so far has been to the Galapagos Islands.

What is your favorite saying/words to live by?
“Women, like men, should try to do the impossible. And when they fail, their failures should be a challenge to others.” – Amelia Earhart

If you could have any five people, living or dead, imagined or real, as guests at a dinner party, who would you choose?
I probably would want some people who would be really witty and entertaining. I think I’d like Gloria Steinem, Gandhi, Oprah Winfrey, Woody Allen, and Gertrude Stein.

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

–Jordan Veilleux

Hull at the Helm

Newly appointed Vice President and Chief Information Officer Thomas A. Hull shares his plans for the future of tech at Pace.

This past July, Pace University appointed Thomas A. Hull as the new Vice President and Chief Information Officer for the University. Hull has a long history of both public and private sector experience, most recently serving as Chief Information Officer of Siena College in Loudonville, New York.  Hull will serve as the senior administrator of Information Technology Services at Pace and be responsible for maintaining an integrated, efficient, sustainable, and responsive program of information technology and infrastructure support services for academic, research, and administrative computing.

What are your top three priorities as CIO?

In brief: To emphasize progress with our Academic Technology group in the areas of online learning and distributed learning environments; to develop and execute a program plan for business intelligence known as iStrategy that will deliver dashboard data using our new data warehouse this year and provide insight into all areas of the University in the next couple years; collaboration enhanced by modern technology and knowledge management for our wealth of faculty talent across the University; and to implement best practices in the area of ITS strategy and operation, which includes management of all service areas from the foundation of infrastructure management, user services, call center, and helpdesk to the portfolio management of our software and device solutions (over 100 applications and systems).

What are some of the challenges you may face in this new position?

There are several challenges that we have to stay on top of in the IT industry, including the changing landscape of end user and mobile computing paradigm, which is emphasized in higher education with new devices coming to campus every year. We must learn and then provide client integration and networking to our key systems at the University with those devices. Another constant challenge is to provide efficient service management for all of our vendor products and then make the best use of the new features and functions that come with the annual development cycles so that we are getting the most value for our investments in technology. We are challenging ourselves with growing our skills in ITS so that we are talented in programming and systems integration, so that we are capable of producing modern applications and user interfaces. Similarly, we are seeking complementary partnerships with members of the Pace Community such as the Seidenberg Creative Labs and also utilizing our part-time student workforce to get new and exciting projects that will make a difference in the web applications and new end user interfaces in using our systems.

There have already been a lot of improvements in pedagogical technology at Pace, what else can we expect to see?

This is a very exciting area because it includes technology for the changing educational landscape in higher education. The higher education industry is moving fast and we want to be right in front of the curve. We want to standardize technology for our online and distributed learning programs and for our future opportunities, so that the technology that produces collaboration between faculty and students is defined and repeatable for all schools. This includes collaborative virtual classrooms, videoconferencing with a pilot program that we are evaluating called Blackboard Collaborate, desktop sharing between faculty and students so that students can text and ask questions or comment on the material, and applications so that everyone can work in the convenience of any location no matter where you may reside. We also have an iPad User Group that is constantly researching and trying new apps for pedagogical usage including new apps for students’ education materials, and usage as a clicker in getting responses to questions during the classroom sessions, amongst others.

Are you planning any collaboration with other departments at the University?

Yes, there are several initiatives in consideration now for cross functional collaboration. We have expanded our service request system (Web Helpdesk) to have queues for OSA, Facilities, Security, University Relations, and several others so that we can have a central point of contact, which is now as simple as just dialing the 3’s (3-3333).  This way anyone can ask any question on any subject and get a response from the proper department.  This August, through OSA leadership, we implemented a virtual call center so that if OSA’s call volume is high—such as the start of the semester—then staff from any location can be plugged in to take calls regardless of where they sit. We are collaborating with Enrollment Management on Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Web Services, and we working with HR and Finance for online web applications to reduce our paper-based forms processes which will be communicated throughout this year. There are other collaborations, too, including one with the Athletics Department in communicating the schedule of athletic events, and working with all the academic and student areas for helping the students get started with their ePortfolios that will help them retain their academic work products for the rest of their careers.

What do you consider to be the most important aspect of your work for the Pace Community?

I consider my relationships with students, my peers and the leadership of the University to be a very important aspect of my work here. The connection with faculty and students may be the most important since we are here to provide the best possible experience of higher education to our students. I am constantly considering new uses for technology and continuous process improvement so that we provide a great, modern experience here at Pace.  In working with the Pace leadership, SGA, and Faculty Committees, it has been an excellent start to my career here at Pace and I look forward to expanding our technology initiatives and relationships with all members of the Pace Community. I encourage anyone to contact me via e-mail or call to talk about a new idea or opportunity that we can endeavor into.

Touchdown, Mark Brown

The recently appointed director of athletics and recreation shares his vision for the future of athletics at Pace University.

In April, Mark Brown joined Pace University after an 18 year tenure in the athletics department of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. While there, Brown was responsible for the administration of a $32,000,000 annual operating budget and helped develop a football program that effectively brought the sport back to the Old Dominion campus after a 69 year absence.  Here, he sits down with Opportunitas to share some of his secrets to success and ideas for helping Pace make it in the big league.

You have a fiscal background, having managed Old Dominion’s $32 million annual operating budget—how will you apply your experience to Pace’s athletics department?

I believe the search committee selected me because of my fiscal management experience. What this indicates to me is that Pace would like to run their athletic operation like a business. I have spent the majority of my professional career managing growth from a business perspective and feel I am uniquely qualified to help build the program by standardizing policies and procedures, reviewing organizational structures for appropriateness, and developing funding strategies that will maximize their returns.

What are some areas in the athletics department that you’d like to focus on?

I am hopeful my efforts will improve the student/athlete experience, standardize the business practices, enhance the financial position of our department, and enhance the visibility of Pace University. I also wouldn’t mind winning some more games!

What are your top three priorities for this year?

Right now I am trying to gauge and learn the culture of Pace. I firmly believe that the committee selected me because they want to grow our program. If they didn’t want to grow the program, why would they select an individual who has extensive experience in this area?  My first priority this year is to educate all campus constituents as to how athletics can help the University. It sounds fairly simple, but it is amazing how people never completely put the puzzle together. As a department, we most certainly bring in tuition dollars with the student-athletes we recruit, but it goes beyond that. We should be a vehicle for enhancing the college experience for all students, faculty, and staff by giving them a team to cheer for.  We enhance the campus sense of community and school spirit by doing so. Hopefully, these good experiences and memories will encourage future support when they are alumni. Secondly, I need to review all business and budgeting practices. Having fair and realistic guidelines that are appropriately articulated and funded is essential to holding people accountable for their responsibilities. Lastly, I want to proactively look at Title IX and see if we can establish a long-range strategy that will aid in our compliance in this area.

How important is community support for athletics at Pace?

It’s nice, don’t get me wrong but I think the more appropriate question is, how important is Pace Athletics to the community? We don’t generate significant dollars from ticket sales or sponsorship revenue—no Division II school does. However, we do help the community by providing quality and clean athletic facilities for community use (Goldstein Fitness Center comes to mind); we provide family friendly entertainment for very little cost at our games; we provide exposure opportunities for local business looking to expand their customer base;and we provide year-round athletic instruction and summer programming for the youth in the community. Not to mention the coaches and athletes who volunteer in local schools and other community service activities throughout the year. It is without a doubt a partnership that works well for all parties.

What are some of your hopes for the future of Pace athletics?

I am extremely competitive. I am convinced that with a renewed perspective and some sound financial investments, we can be much more competitive without losing our focus as an institution of higher learning. Ultimately I would like Pace to be standard by which other Northeast 10 teams and Athletic Departments are judged.

For more information about Mark Brown, please see the Pace University press release which can be found here.

All Hands on Tech: Q&A with the University Executive Director of Academic Technology

Beth Gordon Klingner, PhD, discusses her new role as the University Executive Director of Academic Technology and the future of pedagogical technology at Pace.

In March, Matthew F. Bonilla, Interim Vice President and CIO, and Sheying Chen, PhD, the associate provost for academic affairs, announced the appointment of Beth Gordon Klingner, PhD, to the new position of University Executive Director of Academic Technology at Pace.

How does this new position differ from your previous role as the Assistant Dean for Instructional Technology?

I was the Assistant Dean for Instructional Technology in Dyson College, which meant that everything I was doing was only officially for Dyson. Unofficially, I was helping others from different areas of the University. Now I’ve got a broader vantage point.

What are your top three priorities in this new position?

To keep the communication flowing between ITS and the academic areas to ensure that academic technology decisions including planning, purchasing, and implementation are being done in the most effective ways to enhance the teaching and learning experience; to promote the use of ePortfolios for students to enrich and support their academic, extra, and co-curricular work and career development; and to provide leadership and strategic planning for all academic technology initiatives.

I know you’re deeply involved with the promotion of ePortfolios and have done a lot with faculty workshops. What else do you see in the future of academic technology at Pace?

I’d like to further promote ePortfolios for use as a student job search tool—students can use their portfolios to showcase their academic work, projects they’ve done, and their career interests. ePortfolios are also great for faculty and staff. They’re also a great vehicle for student development. Student clubs and organizations could benefit from this technology.

I’m also working closely with the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology (CTLT) and we’re collaborating with the Library and the tech folks at the schools. I have actually been collaborating with all of these areas over the years on a variety of initiatives including online/blended learning, ePortfolios for students and faculty, and iPads.  This new position will formalize the collaboration that has already been occurring and will make it easier to share successes and address challenges across the University.

How do you assist the faculty with programming?

I will be working closely with the schools and colleges at Pace to help support the development of new online and blended programs.  For example, I have done this kind of work with the Masters in Homeland Security, which is an innovative blended degree program for working professionals in the field.

How will you be involved in bringing new instructional technology to the Pace Community?

We hold iPad user groups monthly for the faculty. They’re learning not only to use the iPad, but also how to incorporate it into the classroom. It’s already being used in several classes and we hope to use it in more.  [Note: If you’d like to learn more about iPads in the classroom, click here to read entries from the iPad User Blog.]

How are new technologies being implemented in the classroom? What sort of responses have you received to the new technologies?

This is an exciting time at Pace because we have made such a dramatic leap in terms of classroom technologies.  At this point, all of the classrooms have at least a base level of classroom technology. This summer we will be doing further upgrades to enhance some rooms and to also upgrade rooms that are not listed as traditional classroom spaces, but yet are used for class and student group meetings.  We will continue to seek faculty/student input on how best to improve our current classroom technologies and thanks to the Student IT fee, we will be able to keep Pace at the cutting edge in terms of instructional technologies. Examples of this are the implementation of ECHO 360 (lecture capture) capabilities available in all classrooms and the expansion our work with iPads to enhance the overall learning experience.