Professors Prioritize Relationships with Students

Chad Gusler, seated on a table, shares a laugh with students in Common Grounds

Chad Gusler, seated on a table, shares a laugh with students in Common Grounds

The commitment to sustainability, the intertwining of faith and peace, and the emphasis on global perspectives tend to be values that attract people to EMU’s small but friendly campus. A combination of all three, along with the ability to get to know students on a personal level, seem to specifically appeal to professors wanting to teach at a faith-based university.

Peacebuilding Professor Gloria Rhodes says, “Most people are here for the long haul. They identify with the mission of EMU and are committed to what the school stands for.”

Mike Medley, department chair and professor of Language and Literature, agrees that what has kept him at EMU is the mixture of faith and global mission. He reflects that, “the way that EMU brings together Christian commitment and global perspectives made me feel like I really fit.”

For Medley, teaching full time at EMU was not necessarily his intended destination.

He first came to EMU to be the director of the Intensive English Program, and then later came on as a full time professor of undergrad classes.

Not being raised Mennonite, but interested in exploring Anabaptist theology, Medley says he enjoys teaching EMU students, because “the cross- cultural program makes students much more open to the world.”

Chad Gusler, who actually completed his undergraduate degree at EMU, also found himself teaching full time at EMU in a rather round-about way. Gusler laughs as he adds, “I kind of got this job by accident actually.”

He was hired to teach an entry year writing class, and then the next year asked to teach two, and his course load increased until he found himself teaching full-time.

When asked what keeps him here, he replies, “I like how it’s small, I feel like I know more students. I also really appreciate my relationships with them and with other members of staff.”

Rhodes agrees that student relationships are key to her teaching experience here at EMU, “I prioritize them because I want to know students and I want to know what they are up to.”

Though making time for interactions with students outside of the classroom is a priority for many professors, schedules full of teaching and grading, as well as professional and departmental obligations fill up faculty members’ time.

Rhodes, also the advisor for the Peacebuilding and Development pro- gram, has such a full schedule some days that she doesn’t even have time to eat lunch between classes.

What is it exactly that makes professors like Rhodes so busy? “Administrative tasks always take a huge chunk of my time as Department Chair [of the Applied Social Sciences Department],” says Rhodes. “I also function in multiple other roles and committees within the university, on top of teaching and grading.”

“The rest of the time is taken up by responding to student requests,” Rhodes explains. “Though, most of the time they are very fun and life giving. But yeah, it feels very busy most of the time.”

It seems, however, that though there are many demands on a professor’s time, interactions with students are not pushed to the side when life gets busy.

“I am amazed at how my professors will always find time to meet with me,” says Senior Krista Nyce.

“I know they all have so many different responsibilities, but when I have something I need to talk to them about, I never feel like they rush through me to get to the next thing.”

Teaching at EMU often involves more than just interaction in the classroom setting, but also mentoring in different forms.

“I was just over at Carolyn Stauffer’s house for dinner last night. And I know she is crazy busy,” says Sophomore Kaltuma Noorow. “Though it makes them super busy, I think professors like to teach here because they can interact with students on a really personal level.”

-Maria Driedeger, Contributing Writer

Categories: Feature


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