Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of Q&As with full-time faculty members who recently came aboard at Keuka College. Today, meet three of our professors.
Dr. Margaret “Malia” Spofford-Xavier, assistant professor of Spanish and intercultural studies, currently teaches all Spanish classes as well as ENG 207 (Latin American literature and society) and INS301R (Intercultural Studies). She joined the faculty at the start of the 2015-16 academic year.
Last book read: The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Favorite quote: “Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words. Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions. Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits. Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character. Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.” (Author unknown)
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be, and why: The Little Prince has always charmed me with his optimism and creativity.
What makes teaching fun: I enjoy getting to know students as they transform their dreams into reality through critical thinking and hard work.
What do you do for fun? I like to jog, kayak, and garden. I spend time with my husband Bruno and two children, Nicholas and Olivia. We enjoy cooking, being outdoors, swimming, and visiting the library.
Christopher Clinton, assistant professor of social work, directs the BSW field placement program for the Division of Social Work. Currently, he teaches Social Work Practice I, SW Policy II and Senior Practicum.
Last book read: Joseph Campbell “The Power of Myth”
Favorite quote: “I have the world’s largest collection of seashells. I keep it on all the beaches of the world … perhaps you’ve seen it,” by Steven Wright.
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be, and why: The Cat in the Hat, the greatest of iconoclasts, challenger of authority all the while awakening the mind and spirit to a new world of possibilities that would have otherwise remained hidden. Be careful what you wish for children, this cat will surely take you to the edge of your comfort zone, hang you by your feet staring down at the abyss of new possibilities and consequences and then throw you back on your comfy-cushy couch begging for more….and once that iconoclastic kitty-cat leaves, you will never be satisfied with your once-accepted status quo. Best of all, after all that mayhem and unadulterated fun, you don’t have to lift a finger to clean up. Let’s not forget that he also banished Dick and Jane to the bookshelves of the humdrum and uninspired: ”What would you do if your mother asked you?”
What makes teaching fun: When the effort and consciousness of teaching dissolves and we are effortlessly learning, consumed by the moment and collectively transformed by the experience. Spontaneous forays into role plays all the while making new connections between seemingly disparate concepts that fold into one another as if they were puzzle pieces effortlessly falling into place before our very eyes. How did that happen?
What do you do for fun? Hiking or hiking and hunting for mushrooms, listening to and playing music, tennis and kayaking.
Dr. Darlene Del Prato, professor of nursing, teaches Philosophy and Theories of Teaching and Learning, Nursing Theory and Research, Teaching and Learning Environments and Governance, Health Care Policy, Teaching and Learning Methods. She joined the faculty in early 2015.
Last book read: Parker Palmer’s “The Heart of Higher Eduction: A Call to Renewal”
Favorite quote: “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” Vince Lombardi
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be, and why: Hmm, I don’t typically read fiction.
What makes teaching fun: The energy and exchange of ideas!
What do you do for fun? I enjoy being on the water, long walks in nature, gardening, and spending time with family and good friends.
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a two-part series of Q&As with new, full-time faculty members.
Kevin Murphy of Elmira, assistant professor of social work, is teaching traditional and ASAP courses this fall, including Social Welfare Policy and Service I & II, Ethics and Diversity in Social Work, and Generalist Social Work Practice I. Come spring, he is scheduled to teach Group Processes I & II, Social Work Research Methods, Generalist Social Work Practice I & II, and Social Welfare Policy & Service I.
Last book read: Dr. Sleep, by Stephen King.
Favorite quote: Non decor deco (Latin for “I am not led, I lead.”)
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be and why? No one. I like my real life too much.
What makes teaching fun? Seeing the passion the students bring to the table, and being privileged enough to be a part of their transformational journey.
What do you do for fun? Time with the wife and kids, campfires in my backyard on weekends, reading, writing, and obstacle course racing.
Guadalupe Morales-Gotsch, visiting assistant professor of Spanish, is teaching Intercultural Studies, Introduction to Spanish, Spanish for Communication, and Latin American Short Stories.
Last book read: Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
Favorite quote: “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge,” by Albert Einstein.
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be and why? Dora the Explorer, because she loves to engage herself with new friends and situations, making the best of those situations and her new friends.
What makes teaching fun? Students and their desire to learn.
What do you do for fun? Travel, meet new people and learn about their culture, reading for pleasure
Nicholas Koberstein, instructor of child and family studies, teaches Introduction to Human Development, Development in Middle Childhood, and Psychology of Adulthood and the Aging.
Last book read: Go Dog Go, by P.D. Eastman. My daughter, Harper and son, Wyatt, read every night before bedtime. Go Dog Go is a great book that helps them develop skills in language, learn colors, numbers, and orientations, all with some subtle humor. It is a mainstay on our bedtime bookshelf.
Favorite quote: “My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me,” by Winston Churchill. My wife, Kristen, is the cornerstone of our family. I have never met a more gorgeous, intelligent, kind-hearted, and hard-working woman.
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be and why? Indiana Jones, the ultimate renaissance man. If nothing more than to have some flashy, three-piece tweed suits. Jones lives a fascinating life of exploration and adventure. He always escapes danger and fights for what is right and just.
What makes teaching fun? Influence. To make a positive change in a student’s life or to teach them something that changes their world view. Learning is an experience that is more than the information that is taught in the classroom. It is a culture that is co-created and shared by the students. Every new class is a different than the last.
What do you do for fun? I love to explore with my family. Every weekend my family and I try to experience something new. Since we moved to the area in August from Connecticut, there is plenty of exploring to do.
Betty Morris-Mitchell, Assistant Professor of Social Work in the Accelerated Studies for Adults (ASAP) program, is teaching Social Work Practice III (SWK 351) & Social Welfare Policy & Services II (SWK 401).
Last book read: The Good Dream by Donna VanLiere
Favorite quote: Character is found in how you treat people who can’t do anything for you.
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be, and why?: I would be Ivorie from the book, The Good Dream. Ivorie, a single woman, rescues and raises an abused young child despite talk and opposition from members of the community.
What makes teaching fun: Helping students achieve their God-given dreams; helping them to understand that they were created to soar.
What do you do for fun? I read. I enjoy reading fiction, non-fiction, self-improvement books, and biographies. I also write short-stories when I have the time.
Michaela Cosgrove has been working since she was 14, the last 33 years at Keuka College.
“I’ve stayed because there are students to teach, and teaching is what I love,” said Cosgrove, who retired at the end of the 2012-13 academic year and was granted professor emerita status by the Board of Trustees. “But I wanted to retire before the job got stale and I didn’t look forward to coming to work anymore. I wanted to go when I was still happy and happy with the way things are.
“I am extremely impressed with the new faculty coming in,” she said. “They are in tune with the students, they know their stuff, and are professionals. I like that a lot. Keuka College is a unique place to be and I know it will continue to flourish.”
The College is in that position thanks in part to Cosgrove, named Professor of the Year in 2004.
“Her students consistently praise her for her deep love of literature and language studies, and her passion for her teaching. Described as an outstanding teacher and mentor by her colleagues and students, she has made a profound and lasting impact on the College,” said Anne Weed, vice president for academic affairs.
That lasting impact has been felt across campus as Cosgrove has served in a number of roles throughout her tenure.
“In her distinguished career at Keuka, which has spanned three decades, she has served as an exceptional teacher of Spanish, director of the Higher Education Opportunity Program, assistant academic dean, dean of students, registrar, and as chair of the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts,” said Weed.
And while Cosgrove enjoyed her administrative duties, teaching has her heart.
“I had the opportunity to teach in graduate school, jumped at the chance to do so, and I found that I loved it,” said Cosgrove. “I was able to continue teaching one course a semester while serving as dean of students and really enjoyed it. I learned a lot as an administrator, but teaching is my passion and was glad to do it full-time.”
She has taught Spanish language, literature and culture; Latin America; U.S.-Latino literature; Spanish for professional purposes; and introductory linguistics, among others.
Outside the classroom, Cosgrove must be credited for heightening student interest in international Field Periods.
“I remember fondly the intensity and pleasure of leading so many group Field Periods to Mexico,” said Cosgrove, who is pleased with the College’s global approach to education. “I am most happy about the international connection the students have now, and am hopeful that our state-based students will take the opportunity to travel and learn the languages and culture of others. It’s good to see students whose first language is not English come into the classroom and interact with the traditional students.”
And while Cosgrove may be leaving teaching behind, she will have many opportunities to speak Spanish.
“My daughter lives in Spain and we’ve been to visit every year,” Cosgrove said. “Last summer, we travelled throughout the country by car as our son-in-law and my husband biked. We saw many little towns I’d love to go back to and explore.”
She also plans several visits to see her son and daughter-in-law, both Keuka graduates, who now live in Arizona. Other plans include yoga, traveling during the semester, and looking for possible volunteer opportunities, such as conflict mediation, something she has done in the past.
“I will do some writing as well,” she said. “I like to write essays, but whether anyone will read them is something different. A long time ago, I was on staff of the Corning Leader covering such events as the Cohocton school board meetings. I might go back to that because I like the writing it involves. I really just want to see what happens.”
Where can a Keuka degree take you? This is the seventh in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2012.
Allie Walker ’12 recently completed a final Field Period internship in the music industry department at the Burst Agency, an entertainment agency, in Atlanta, Ga. She graduated with a degree in organizational communication and in the fall, she will begin professional training in concierge work with special events and public relations with a hotel in Cancun, Mexico. After mastering greater fluency in Spanish, Walker plans to relocate to Miami, Fla.
“The thing that I value most from my Keuka education is the hands-on experience I was able to gain throughout my college career. I was able to travel around the country and world. Everything that I learned during my Field Periods I have been able to apply and will still be able to apply in the workplace,” Walker says. “I have made great connections on the way.”
To explore what might be in your future with a Keuka degree, request more information.
During her summer Field Period to Tijuana, Mexico, senior Angela Viggiani sought to experience Mexican culture and communicate with the citizens in Spanish.
She achieved those goals and then some.