By Jo Kadlecek
Just before Gordon’s 119th Commencement ceremony on the morning of May 21, a group of young scholars gathered at Frost Hall for a photograph. A visitor to campus asked if they were graduating with honors since their robes were so distinguished. But these were not students; they were Gordon’s newest—and youngest—faculty.
Ranging in ages from 28 to 37, these assistant professors come from across the globe and represent a range of academic disciplines and exceptional talents. What they have in common, though, is a shared commitment to students and to helping each other become better teachers and scholars. They meet monthly to discuss research and teaching techniques, and they attend each other’s public lectures or students’ events. And in the short amount of time they’ve been at Gordon, they have already contributed a number of “firsts.”
As they appear in the photo from left to right, consider their stories: Dr. Jonathan Gerber (left), assistant professor of psychology, came from his home country of Australia last year and teaches research methods and social psychology courses. Currently researching rejection, social comparison and self-esteem, Dr. Gerber works with both The Interdisciplinary Experimental Society (TIES) and the philosophical psychology lab at Gordon to mentor students in research skills. But he’s also a talented musician, and helped students launch Gordon’s first Internet radio station, Scot Radio. Gerber even hosts his own Friday night show called The Hidden Tradition, where he “spins Christian tunes in new directions.”
In his first year at Gordon, Moises Park (second from left), assistant professor of Spanish, grew up in Chile and brings a rich perspective to the Spanish language, literature and film classes he teaches. When he’s not presenting a paper at various conferences throughout the Americas or sitting on film panels for Gordon’s Provost’s Film Series, Dr. Park—who’s also a musician and filmmaker—introduces students to Latin American culture throughout the Boston area. He taught the first-ever May Term class that explores both works in “Spanglish” and the immigrant experience in America.
Also in her first year, Jessica Ventura (third from left), assistant professor of kinesiology, comes to Gordon from Texas with a specialty in biomechanics and an emphasis on designing and testing prosthetic devices for lower-limb amputees. Dr. Ventura—who is fluent in Spanish—has spent considerable time in Central America working with a variety of communities there. Because of her interest in forming partnerships with impoverished communities around the world, Dr. Ventura has launched Gordon’s first Honduras Kinesiology Seminar through the Global Education Office; she and a team of students spent May Term in Honduras serving people with congenital and developed physical disabilities unique to the developing Central American nations.
Now in her second year at Gordon, Toddy Burton (middle), assistant professor of communication arts, is an award-winning filmmaker who teaches screenwriting, video production and film criticism. She knows the language of today’s students is visual and regularly writes film reviews for a variety of publications. Burton engages with filmmakers throughout the country, and has already been interviewed regularly by local journalists—especially about her perspectives on Academy Awards nominations. She organized Gordon’s first public screening of students’ work at CinemaSalem in Salem, Massachusetts, where 30 short films by 20 student filmmakers were shown to a standing-room only audience.
From the south of France and in her fourth year at Gordon, Dr. Emmanuelle Vanborre (fourth from right), assistant professor of French, is an expert in French literature and brings an enthusiasm and expertise to students for all things Francophone. When not presenting papers or chairing panels at academic conferences, she is organizing French lunches in the student dining hall or creating websites for her students to use in class. Dr. Vanborre also organized Gordon’s first French film festival, is the faculty advisor for Cercle Français, a French club that organizes activities on and off campus, and just recently helped oversee the launching of Gordon’s first foreign language residence hall.
In his third year, Dr. Andrew Logemann (third from right), assistant professor of English, brings a range of literary research and teaching interests to one of Gordon’s largest majors on campus. From 20th-century British literature to postcolonial studies, critical theory, and modernism, Dr. Logemann’s specialties are vast and extend across disciplines. He is especially passionate about the interplay between physics and literature during the modernist period, and how the relationship between scientists, artists and writers affects the works they produce. For the first time at Gordon, courses in science and literature have appeared on class schedules, thanks to Dr. Logemann.
Casey Cooper (second from right), assistant professor of economics and business, is a Gordon alumna from the class of 2003. Cooper returned to campus in the fall of 2005 as an adjunct professor while working as an auditor for an international accounting firm, and accepted a full-time position the following year. In addition to teaching accounting courses, she helped launch Gordon's Center for Nonprofit Studies and Philanthropy, which she now directs. She has developed courses in nonprofit management and accounting for the new minor in nonprofit organization management and social entrepreneurship. Outside the classroom she cheers on almost every Gordon sports team.
Dr. Brian Glenney (right), assistant professor of philosophy, is in his fourth year at Gordon and works primarily at the intersection of cognitive science and philosophy of the mind. Dr. Glenney runs the Philosophical Psychology Lab (PSI-PHier) at Gordon and is concerned with how we perceive shape by sight and touch. For instance, he thinks a lot about the following question: “Would a blind subject who recognizes various shapes by touch be able to immediately recognize those shapes by sight alone if his or her sight was restored?” He regularly recruits students to work with him on a variety of research projects, writes regular blogs, articles and papers, is a popular panelist on campus for various student activities and organized one of Gordon’s first interdisciplinary philosophy debates that included—who else?—other young professors.