I joined the Integrated Social Sciences program in Autumn of 2013 after having served as Director of Academic Services in the UW Department of English for over 20 years. Although my academic training is in the Humanities, my work in 19th-century English literature was always firmly grounded in historical and social contexts, examining the ways in which language and textual representation simultaneously reflect and shape human culture. This means that working as an adviser in an interdisciplinary social sciences program is a surprisingly good fit for this old English major!
I grew up in rural Iowa and was the first in my family to go to college, finishing a B.A. in English and German at Cornell College in 1982. It was at Cornell that I first learned the value of good advising, working with faculty advisers in both my majors. I spent a Fulbright year at the Free University of West Berlin, then moved to New Jersey for two years to earn my M.A. at Rutgers, and finally came to Seattle to pursue my Ph.D. Before finishing the degree, however, my career as a teacher and scholar took an unexpected and delightful detour into academic advising. As a member of the senior advising leadership in Arts & Sciences, I helped to create our college’s advising mission statement which defines advisers as educators who work in partnership with the faculty to help students identify and achieve their intellectual and educational goals.
When the opportunity arose to build an advising program from the ground up in an innovative and exciting new online program, how could I resist? In ISS we are pioneering a new collaborative model that self-consciously blurs the lines between advising staff and faculty, fully embracing the ideal of advising as teaching, and teaching as mentoring. That’s exciting work for me, as is the challenging job of personalizing and humanizing online learning. It’s an honor and a pleasure to work with my outstanding colleagues on the ISS team and with our wonderful students. Like many of our students, I am a long-distance commuter, living in rural south Kitsap County. Whether working out of my office in Cunningham Hall, or out of my home office at Paradise Ranch, I’m excited each day to help build our new program and help make the dream of degree completion a reality for our students.