Professor of the Year focuses on "how" graduates should be

Professor of the Year focuses on “how” graduates should be

web-commencement_2In her commencement speech, “Can We Talk? Engaging in the Twenty-First Century,” the 2013 PC Professor of the Year, English professor Dr. Molly McGehee, didn’t talk about what is usually discussed in graduation speeches: what graduates will go out and do in the world or who they might be in the future. Instead, McGehee focused on how they will be: how they will engage in an era of expanding technology and increased globalization.

McGehee believes that showing up is a big part of life and she demonstrates that in her support for her students.

“They are entering the workplace in very challenging times,” she said.  “But they have everything they need to make fulfilling lives for themselves.”

During her speech, McGehee encouraged graduates to continue to foster an appreciation for people and cultures who may not look, talk or pray like they do; to turn off their cell phones and social networking sites daily and have real “look-each-other-in-the-eye” kinds of conversations.  She encouraged them to use their talents and abilities and the privileges that come with from having a PC education to engage in service for their communities.

In short, she gave the same advice to the (however many) PC graduates that she gives her own students on a daily basis.

McGehee is known for her “tough yet fair and balanced” grading system, her sense of humor that includes laughing at herself, and her willingness to foster relationships with her students and the interest she shows in their well-being.

“I try to attend extracurricular activities of my students to show my support for the development of the whole person,” said McGehee.  “I enjoy learning more about them and watching them grow.”

McGehee knows the satisfaction that fulfillment brings and she experiences it every day in her interaction with students. Life becomes more meaningful, she says, when we engage with others and have a clear understanding of where they are coming from philosophically, culturally, spiritually, and even geographically.

“Presbyterian College is the perfect place to forge such relationships,” she said.  “There is nothing more rewarding than being a part of transformation and that’s just what we are doing at PC.”

To be sure, this year has been a busy one for McGehee. In addition to being named the PC Professor of the Year the same year she received tenure and promotion to Associate Professor, she was elected to PC’s Senior Faculty Council and also to Modern Language Association Delegate Assembly, voted Sigma Kappa Alpha Advisor, was named Advocate of the Year by the PC Campus Life Department, and won the Jerome K. Stern Award for best article published in Studies in American Culture.

These honors and recognitions are validation of McGehee’s commitment to the students at PC.  Her students find her to be accessible but challenging with creative assignments that help them to grow intellectually.

“I work very hard to contribute to the academic program at PC,” she said.  “I enjoy being a part, however small, of students’ successes.”

Those successes are a large part of how she defines her own personal success.

When accepting the Professor of the Year award at Convocation, McGehee said that it is through teaching that she has become and will continue to become a better version of herself.  She expressed her commitment to her own personal and professional growth in hopes of becoming an even better teacher, mentor, colleague, and leader for the PC community.

“I will do all that I can, to make this institution a nationally celebrated liberal arts college,” she said. “ I believe in every fiber of my being that PC is the little college that could.”