There’s a part-time problem in higher education; national trends put part-time faculty at approximately 40 percent of the national academic labor force as higher educational institutions across the U.S. implement adjuncts as a cost-cutting method.
Always one to break the mold and surpass a national standard, Unity College has taken note of these trends and worked to push against them over the past five years. At the start of classes in September, nine new faculty faces greeted students in a variety of departments on campus, from conservation law enforcement, to writing, to captive wildlife care and education.
“Our top priority always has been and always will be our students. We are dedicated to their success, meaning we want full-time faculty that are accessible for research opportunities, advising, and mentorship, and who are present for educational continuity,” Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury said. “We want our students to be able to form relationships with teachers who will be on campus for the entire four years of their college experience — and beyond. Full-time faculty are an invaluable part of any college community.”
Throughout its steady advancement in size from 578 students in 2011 to 712 students in 2017, Unity College has maintained a student-faculty ratio between 13-to-1 and 15-to-1. Students continue to benefit from a small community feel, passionate, dedicated faculty and staff who encourage a high degree of student involvement, and an individualized, supportive, and hands-on learning experience as faculty numbers increased from 36 in 2013 to 42 at the start of this school year. New faces include:
Dr. Tristan Burgess, Assistant Professor of Captive Wildlife Care and Education, holds a Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of California-Davis and recently completed a postdoctoral research position with San Diego Zoo Global. Additionally, he received a Bachelor of Veterinary Science degree from Massey University, New Zealand and a Bachelor of Science degree in immunobiology from the University of Sydney, Australia. He specializes as a wildlife veterinarian with a range of field, research, and teaching experience related to captive and free-ranging wildlife.
Dr. Susan Colvin, Assistant Professor of Fisheries Science andManagement, earned her Ph.D. from Auburn University, where she studied fish assemblages across diverse stream types. Prior to returning to academia, Dr. Colvin worked with a variety of state and federal agencies in the northwest where she gained experiences with an array of sampling techniques, gear types, and fish species. Her career has included field work in 13 U.S. states, as well as Canada.
Dr. Matthew Nye, Assistant Professor of Environmental Writing, comes to Unity College from the University of Georgia, where he is finishing his Ph.D. in creative writing.. He has published a number of creative pieces in literary journals and a book entitled Pike and Bloom. Dr. Nye also holds a MFA and Masters of Architecture from the University of Utah and an AB in English and Philosophy from Dartmouth College.
Lt. Michael L. Moody, Visiting Instructor of Conservation Law Enforcement, has over twenty years of experience in law enforcement, and, prior to his recent retirement, served as Detective Lieutenant for the Brunswick Police Department, where he supervised numerous law enforcement officers, oversaw evidence management, and coordinated the department’s internship program. He has also served as an instructor at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.
Ms. Pratibha ‘Poly’ Singh, Visiting Instructor of Captive Wildlife Care and Education, has over ten years of experience working in the field of conservation biology, and holds a B.S. and M.S. in Botany from Delhi University, a M.S. in Forestry from the Indian Institute of Management, and a Master of Public Management from Carnegie Mellon. In her career she has worked within zookeeping in North India, Nepal, and Bhutan, as well as numerous other management positions with the government of India. She most recently comes to Unity College from the Zoo Technology Program at Santa Fe College.
Dr. Aly McKnight, Visiting Assistant Professor of Wildlife and Fisheries Management, holds a Ph.D. in Ecology and Environmental Science from the University of Maine, Orono, and has previously worked with the Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as taught. She specializes in population ecology of colonially breeding seabirds, and her research emphasizes how intrinsic processes, mediating influences, and individual heterogeneity affect population vital rates.
Dr. Thomas Whittaker, Visiting Instructor of Physical Science, holds degrees achieved over three continents, with a Ph.D. in Earth and Ocean Sciences from the University of Waikato (N.Z.), a M.A. in Quaternary and Climate Studies from the University of Maine, and a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of East Anglia (U.K.) Prior to joining the Unity Community, Dr. Whittaker served as a geologist for the Maine Geological Survey, an Assistant Professor teaching geosciences at the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus, and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque studying historical weather patterns as recorded in tree rings.
Ms. Anne Bardaglio, Visiting Instructor of Writing, comes to Unity College with a variety of teaching experiences, ranging from working with Coastal Studies for Girls, the Midcoast Music Academy, the Farnsworth Art Museum, and adjunct appointments here at Unity College. She possesses an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from The Ohio State University, and her work emphasizes instruction in writing and the humanities with a focus on inquiry and interdisciplinary connections.
Mr. Randall Colvin, Visiting Instructor of Biology, is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Curriculum Education in Biology from Auburn University, focusing his research on a comparison of learning outcome assessment successes based on environmental science curriculum delivered in an experiential versus a traditional classroom teaching methodology. He has over eight years of teaching experience, has mentored numerous undergraduate projects, taught service learning travel courses and has a passion for teaching undergraduates.
In addition to traditional faculty, Unity College students now benefits from an industry-leading approach to student services with the addition of a new student success coach this fall. Student growth professionals in these new hybrid positions will work with students both as advisors in support of student development, resilience, and academic success, and also as instructors, adding teaching capacity in areas like communications and writing, psychology, and health and wellness.
The new full-time faculty bring life and teaching experience from as far as Australia, India and the United Kingdom, as well as close to home, instilling even more diversity of thought to a college campus that is constantly expanding its inclusion of different cultures, creeds and races — both on campus and off.
“We have amazing faculty here at Unity College, and I’m proud to announce so many new additions to what is already a wealth of talent,” President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury said. “Faculty serve as important role models to students, and it is only through exposure to an abundance of different backgrounds and cultures that our graduates can be fully prepared for an increasingly global society.”