This is a new position at CC. What does the job entail?
My job and the new Office of Field Study were created to support faculty to teach off-campus field study courses. I plan to do this through logistical and administrative means, as well as connecting faculty to pedagogical support and in-the-field resources.
How do you think your position will impact CC?
I hope that my position will lead to an enhanced conversation about field study and all the amazing possibilities of the Block Plan. I hope to get more students out of the classroom into memorable, transformative academic experiences where they see the world in new ways and connect deeply to the material they are studying.
What are some of your goals?
I hope to get more courses involved in innovative off-campus experiences, and I want to showcase the amazing courses being taught at CC to the world. I plan to support off-campus experience by holding workshops, easing the way for faculty to do field trips from an administrative standpoint, and also finding funds for faculty to do trips.
You started here in August; what have you noticed about CC?
People here, from students to faculty to staff, believe that anything is possible. It’s amazing to have tremendous resources, but it’s all for naught if people don’t have vision. There are plenty of amazing people at CC with no shortage of vision.
Tell us a bit about your background before CC.
I grew up in Irving, Texas. I went to Texas A&M University, fell in love with the outdoors and my future wife. We married as undergrads and then went on to grad school together at Clemson University, and then back to Texas A&M to do Ph.D.s. She put school off when we had our first child and I finished my degree in outdoor recreation and adventure education and went into the job market. I landed my first job at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and later moved to Young Harris College in Young Harris, Georgia. All of my degrees are in recreation and parks, and my dissertation research was on the intersection of race and outdoor recreation. I’ve led
numerous off-campus trips, focused on all aspects of outdoor recreation in society, and led immersive courses in outdoor leadership, teaching group and personal development through adventure activities.
What are some personal or professional experiences you’ve had that play into your current role?
Personally, I remember having amazing learning experiences off campus when I was a student. The camaraderie with the other students and faculty, along with mind-opening learning experiences are the things that I try to consider when thinking about field study. Professionally, I am still in touch with students I took on field trips almost 8 years ago, and the experiences those students had still resonate with them personally and professionally. It is tremendously rewarding to be a part of something like that.
Who/what was the biggest influence on you?
My wife Jenny was actually a huge catalyst for me to pursue graduate school. She inspired a C+ student to go ahead and apply and after the first week of graduate studies, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in higher ed. It should also be noted that the departments we applied to really wanted her to come, and I pretty much rode in on her coattails. I also read a lot of Edward Abbey, and his perspective on nature and preservation really influenced my desire to experience and protect and learn from our wild places.
What do you do with your personal time?
I spend time with my wonderful wife and our three rambunctious kids, Sam, 8; Lucy, 5; and Violet, 2½. We ride bikes, hike and camp, and try to get into adventures. When I get a moment for myself, I spend it riding my bike on back roads or rock climbing.
What is your passion?
My passion is for the transformational experiences that young people can have in college. These can happen in class or at campus events or on block breaks with friends. College is one of the only rites of passage in our society, and I am passionate about students going off into the world as responsible, empathetic citizens. Students who get to see and experience the world firsthand, I believe, have a more conscious, open-minded demeanor, and tend to contribute to the common good with their lives. I am passionate about helping students realize these experiences.
Wild card: Can you tell us something about yourself that might be surprising?
My wife and I attempted a cross-country trip on a tandem bike (before kids) from Maine to Seattle. Unfortunately we crashed about two weeks in and could not continue. We had gone about 1,000 miles and experienced a tremendous amount of kindness from the people we met and appreciation for nature from the sights we saw.