Amidst a sea of faces flocking to campus this fall, there are nine faculty members likely feeling freshman flutters all over again. Over the summer, AU finalized the hiring of new faculty for the 2018-19 school year.
The flutters they’re feeling? According to the new professors, they’re eager, and maybe a little nervous, to get into the classroom.
“I am most anxious and most excited about meeting all of my students,” said Earlene Masi, assistant professor of exercise science. “I hope that not only can I connect with them on an academic level, but also a spiritual level.”
Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering Dr. Benjamin McPheron said, “I’m not a particularly anxious person. I just can’t wait to get to know my students and to start pouring into their lives through education and personal interaction. I suppose I am both anxious and excited for that.”
Assistant Professor of Nursing Cortney Hofer is eager to “be part of the AU family” and to “get to know all the students and be part of their journey as they grow into our future nurses.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Katelyn Butler, assistant professor of biology, feels nervous about knowing where to find everything on campus. “Freshmen, I’m right there with you,” she said.
Butler, whose PhD is in plant pathology, will teach non-major biology as well as botany, molecular biology and some lab courses. This is her first year as a full-time professor, although she taught some while in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Once she decided that she wanted to teach at the college level, Butler knew she wanted to return to a small university like the one where she earned her undergraduate degree.
“I saw a job posting for the AU position and was really excited for the chance to teach botany and molecular biology and the opportunity to teach at a Christian liberal arts university,” she said. “It seemed like a perfect fit. After a whirlwind of interviewing, AU also decided that I would be a good fit here—so here I am.”
Assistant Professor of Music, Adam Waller, applied for positions all over the country.
“What drew me to Anderson was the ability to work with ensembles and also be active in the Music Education Department,” he said. “Those are two areas I’m very passionate about, and at many colleges, they are separate. AU seemed like a great fit.”
When asked what he was most excited or anxious about regarding his new job, he said, “Is it time for the first Wind Ensemble rehearsal yet?”
Dr. Caroline Ahn, artist in residence and assistant professor of music, has taught as an adjunct faculty member for two years. She teaches music theory, piano, orchestration, and does composition lessons, which is her specialty.
“I am not anxious about anything, but only excited,” she said. “[I am] so excited to meet my students, to learn my new working duties and to get involved more as a full time faculty.”
Professor Hofer has also spent some time at AU, as she received her Master of Nursing from AU in 2017. During this time, she was able to get to know many of the nursing faculty. Last spring, she served as an adjunct instructor, too.
“During this journey, I discussed my passion for teaching with Dr. Lynn Schmidt,” she said. “I have always wanted to be a nursing educator, but I thought I would do it towards the end of my career. Last fall, I made the decision to step down from my position as a critical care unit manager. I didn’t know where my path would lead me. I just knew I was ready for a new chapter and journey in my career.
“I turned in my 30-day notice without having another job lined up, and I relied on my faith to lead me in the right direction,” Hofer said. “Just one week after I turned in my notice, I was at a meeting at AU, and Dr. Schmidt notified me there was a full-time faculty positioning opening that would start in the fall of 2018.
“God was opening doors for me, and I was so excited,” she said. “After a lot of thought and prayerful discernment, it was clear to me this was my time to start doing what I love—educating. So my journey as an educator came much quicker than I thought, but I am so excited to be at AU and start this new journey in my career.”
McPheron, who will primarily teach intro to engineering right now, also had a college experience with AU.
“I first learned about AU as an undergraduate student at Ohio Northern University when I came here to run in a track meet,” he said. “I remember loving the campus and having a good race, so AU has had a positive place in my memory since then. Fast forward about nine years when I felt God prompting me to return to the Midwest.
“AU was the first place I looked to see if a position was open,” McPheron said. “Providentially, there was an open position, and after prayerful consideration, I submitted an application. From the phone interview process, to the campus visit, and through our transition to Anderson, God has made it increasingly clear that this is where I have been called.”
Masi, who has worked in the clinical field of exercise science since 2002, said she felt called to pursue teaching.
“My Journey to AU is what I call a ‘God thing,’” she said. “I have really felt led by God to pursue teaching here at AU. I can say this is the first time I have ever felt ‘called’ to do something outside of my comfort zone, and I couldn’t be more excited.”
Although the new professors may be feeling overwhelmed themselves, they offered advice to students as they begin another year of their educational journeys.
From Masi: “Put God first. If you are not sure of something, ask for help—you are not alone. Third, find a career or position that you love, one that you can go into work knowing that no matter what the day brings, you are still able to enjoy your job overall.”
McPheron’s advice is to make a checklist. “Checklists can go a long way to improve time management and reduce cognitive load. Trying to remember things that need done is very difficult.”
“One thing my dad always said to me that has helped me through every journey of my life is, ‘do the right thing, because it’s the right thing to do,’” said Hofer. “This has been my motto through life and has never failed me.”
From Ahn: “Follow your dream and do your best. After a while, you will find yourself at the place where you wanted to be.”
Waller said, “Only worry about things you can control. And then, do your best.”
Finally, from Butler: “Surround yourself with good people, both here at AU and when you graduate. No matter what happens academically or professionally, being surrounded by people who know you and support you is essential.”
Dr. Abigail Post, assistant professor of political science; Michael Tatom, assistant professor of education; and Erich Yetter, assistant professor of dance, could not be reached for comment.