I grew up in the Mayfair section of Philadelphia. There is nowhere else I would have wanted for my childhood environment. I still have several groups of close friends from elementary and high school times; we are very tightly bound by a pretty unique shared community experience—gritty and grounded in street smarts. It really was a very special neighborhood.
What drew you to psychology and teaching?
As a first-gen college attendee from a blue-collar neighborhood, I initially went off to LaSalle University wanting to rid the world of substance abuse, which was emerging as a threat to members of my family and friend group—really, throughout that neighborhood dynamic I mentioned above. This passion did not really blossom or progress as I had hoped. The bleak evidence, at the time, for consistently effective treatment options and the nudges I was getting to think “more practically” steered me away from that and led me to double major in management. At one level, I am not proud I succumbed to those nudges, but it did lead me to some incredible professors at LaSalle who ignited my interest in the psychology of work—industrial/organizational psychology—which is what I studied at Virginia Tech.
You are also the innovator and director of RISE. Tell us about that program.
RISE (Reflection, Integrity, and Skill-building to Elevate students) is a teamwork and leadership development program that is an opt-in part of Moravian’s Elevate student experience. Inspired by strong data trends pointing to a powerful need for this type of student personal and professional development, I worked with faculty, administrators, and our senior career development strategists to create this formative and empowering opportunity. Students take three pass/no-credit course experiences across three semesters, engaging in fun team competitions, group exercises and discussions, personal assessments, Canvas modules created by Moravian experts, and simulations that are both poignant and enjoyable. Students do not have to take the three courses consecutively but are encouraged to try to do so in order to stay with their cohort. Students take the courses above and beyond their typical four-course semester load (at no additional tuition cost); so practically it also helps them get ahead a unit, or catch up a unit, if that’s the case.
Share something about yourself that people may not know.
I played soccer at LaSalle University as an undergrad, serving as one of the team captains my senior year. We had a winning record all four years and won two conference championships as well. Moravian’s current men’s soccer head coach, Bob Wilkinson, was one of my teammates, and his dad was our head coach and a tremendous role model who had a huge influence on my life.
What is your favorite space on campus and why?
From 1998 to the end of 2020, I lived right behind the seminary on Lorain Avenue. The patch of greenery between my backyard and the seminary building was so very special to my family. We cherished and made great use of that area. I played so many games with my kids in that spot. My neighbor, friend, and colleague Theresa Dougal of the English Department did an annual May Day ceremony replete with our kids prancing around a Maypole—very special, flat-out awesome memories.
What is your favorite Moravian University tradition?
My wife and I have always cherished bringing in the Christmas season with Vespers services, which we attend most years. It’s consistently a beautiful service and wonderful tone-setter for the season. Our daughter, Dorothy, was Moravian Star soloist one year, and with many of our family members in attendance that was quite cool and sweet.
What do you like to do with your free time?
A couple of years ago my arthritic knee sidelined me from my over-40 soccer team. It was devastating. I had played with a wonderful group of guys for years. Now my wife and I do a great deal of biking and walking. I enjoy following all Philadelphia sports. Our family really enjoys attending concerts and watching films together—typically with lively discussions afterward.
What book, film, song, or piece of art has so touched you that you find it unforgettable?
Book: Alfred Lansing’s Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage—wow, talk about teamwork and leadership, not to mention resiliency and perseverance! An amazing true-story account.
Film: Cool Hand Luke—Paul Newman is just flat-out incredible; what a character!
Song: Simon & Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence—powerful and poignant. Ironically, Logan and Fernando introduced me to an amazing cover of it by the band Disturbed.
I can never resist a good ________.
What is the best advice you have ever received or a quote that stays with you?
“This, too, shall pass.” Danny Schmidt captures it in his song of the same name. In our humanity we need to appreciate the highs and persevere through the lows. Being aware that each is fleeting and trying to be sensitive to and aware of the other during each phase is the key.
Share something that makes you happy.
Being with my family—they are the center of my everything. Music, laughter, and deep discussions are inevitable and always cherished.