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Saint Vincent College Faculty Blog

Why I Love to Teach

Posted by Michael Urick on Tue, Mar 9, 2021 @ 06:03 AM

I’m now in my sixth year of writing this monthly blog and I can’t believe it’s been that long! Time surely has gone by quickly and part of the reason for this might be related to the old expression that “time flies when you are doing something you love.” I love teaching and I have been happy to have been doing it in some capacity for more than 15 years total and at Saint Vincent now for almost nine years. Teaching has truly made time seem to go by quickly.

In my blog posts from recent months, I’ve been focusing a lot on research somewhat regularly. Perhaps that makes sense since I’ve been doing quite a bit (I have two books coming out this spring – one of them comes out next month!) so it’s been on my mind, but I am reminded every day when I step into the classroom of my true academic passion which is teaching. Thus, I am inspired to write this month’s blog on my experiences in the classroom.

One recent experience stands out in particular. It was in one of my Tuesday night class sessions for my Organizational Culture graduate class in the Master of Science in Management: Operational Excellence program. It was a session on assumptions and values of cultures in which we had a spirited discussion about how these elements greatly influence peoples’ behaviors. We used a clear case to illustrate these concepts and, throughout the evening, I could see it in peoples’ faces (even through their masks and via online) that they were grasping the concepts. What’s more, through their comments I could tell that our discussion will likely be impactful to their careers.

There are very few outcomes more rewarding than seeing students’ “lightbulbs” turn on when they truly “get” an abstract concept. In the case of Organizational Culture, the ideas that we talk about start out quite abstract especially early on in the semester. But we need to understand the theory before we can move to application (which we get to during the second half of the semester). To see students make the connection between theory and practice (and then hear stories months later about how they apply course concepts to their work) is a great joy of mine.

A related, but equally significant, joy is to learn with students. Being an instructor, to me and many others at Saint Vincent, is not about lecturing and pushing information onto students. It’s about discovering ideas and concepts together through discussion, a crucial attribute of a Saint Vincent education. In some semesters, I feel like I learn as much as, if not more than, the students. I am grateful for this because there are very few other careers that provide such rewarding outcomes.

I always love to hear from you. Please be in touch! You can find me at: michael.urick@stvincent.edu; https://www.facebook.com/urickmj/; and/or https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-urick-05b775a3/; https://twitter.com/michael_urick.

Dr. Mike Urick

About the Authors

Michelle Gil-Montero is an associate professor of English and director of creative writing at Saint Vincent College. She runs the visiting writers series on campus, oversees the student literary magazine, and serves as guru to aspiring poets on campus. She received her MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2007, and she has been on the Saint Vincent faculty since that year. She is an active poet and literary translator from Spanish. She is spending part of the 2016-17 school year travelling to Argentina on a Howard Foundation fellowship and Fulbright grant. 

Dr. John J. Smetanka has been a member of the full-time faculty since 1997 and currently serves as the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean of Saint Vincent College, a position he has held since January 2008. Dr. Smetanka has taught courses in Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry and Geology as well as interdisciplinary seminars. He has published scientific research articles in physics and astrophysics journals, numerous conference proceedings and also works in science education reform and the interaction between science, technology and theology.

Jim Kellam is an associate professor of biology at Saint Vincent College and our resident ornithologist. He received his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 2003, and is taking this semester as a sabbatical. What does that mean? He'll explain in his blog posts.

Dr. Michael J. Urick is Graduate Director of the Master of Science in Management: Operational Excellence program, and Associate Professor of Management and Operational Excellence at the Alex G. McKenna School of Business, Economics, and Government. Dr. Urick teaches courses related to organizational behavior, human resources, culture, leadership, diversity, conflict, supply chain, operations and research methods. Professionally, Urick serves on the board of the Institute for Supply Management (Pittsburgh) and belongs to the Society for Human Resource Management and APICS. For fun, Urick enjoys music and, since 1998, has led and performed with Neon Swing X-perience, a jazz band that has released multiple albums and toured portions of the US. He enjoys watching movies, is an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction, and also likes to fence.

David Safin, C'00, has been a lecturer in the communication department since the Fall of 2003, and has served in a variety of administrative roles since the summer of 2004. Currently, he teaches multimedia in the communication department as an assistant professor. 

Dr. Michael Krom received his Doctorate in philosophy at Emory University in 2007 and is currently the chair of the philosophy department at Saint Vincent. He has authored a book on religion and politics and continues to publish works in Catholic moral and political thought. Dr. Krom also directs the Faith and Reason summer program every summer. 

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