Pre-Med Honors Student Describes Current Search for a Science Faculty Position in the Honors College

January 10, 2016

By Bailey Shepherd / John V. Roach Honors College Senior

Honors student Bailey Shepherd describes the process she has been involved in as a student member of the committee seeking to hire a new faculty member for the Honors College.

Bailey Shepherd

Bailey Shepherd

The John V. Roach Honors College is always changing, always evolving, and always improving. One of the most important changes happening this year is the hiring of its first tenure-track associate or assistant professor. With the development of TCU’s partnership with the University of North Texas Health Science Center in creating a new medical school, TCU’s Honors College recognized the potential for more involvement with the sciences and is seeking to find a way to implement more science-based, interdisciplinary courses into the Honors curriculum.

By hiring a professor to teach these new courses, the College hopes the learning experience of all Honors students will be further enhanced. The new professor will develop courses in areas such as the philosophy of science, the history of science, or bioethics and healthcare ethics. This is an opportunity to create well-rounded students who are interested in learning the sciences through the lens of a humanities class.

The search committee for this new professor includes Dr. Darren Middleton, Dr. Matt Chumchal, Dr. Molly Weinburgh, Jeremy Albers (a doctoral student in History), Dr. Jennifer Watson, Marie Martinez, Dr. Kelly McCormick, and myself (Bailey Shepherd).

Dr. Darren Middleton

Dr. Darren Middleton

The search committee is chaired by Dr. Middleton, who is not only a wonderful professor in the religion department and Honors, but is also highly committed to serving the Honors students.

After having Dr. Middleton as a professor, I did not think I could be more impressed by him. But while working alongside him in this search committee, I am continually amazed by his level of dedication, hard work, and the congenial nature he displays to those around him. The committee is full of many talented individuals who represent a collaborative mixture of unique perspectives that I thoroughly believe will bring about a successful turnout for this search.

As an undergrad, I realize what a rare and unique experience it is for me to be a part of a search committee for the hiring of a new professor. I was asked to be a part of this project by Dr. Middleton after having a conversation with him about how ethical questions are increasingly being used in medical school interviews and how students could benefit from taking classes involving topics such as medical ethics. With my experiences from medical school interviews, being an Honors student, and my desire for more science-based Colloquia courses, I was happy to join the committee and contribute in any way I could.

During this incredible process, I have already learned so many unexpectedly great things. The first thing I have learned is how much work goes into hiring a new professor. I never realized the amount of scheduling, paperwork, meetings, applicant information, interviews, and overall time that went into hiring a professor. Every intricate detail of the hiring process must be tended to in order to make sure that every rule is followed and nothing gets missed. Despite the difficult nature of the hiring process, this team works so well together and brings about a vibrant energy that makes the work well worth the time and effort. Everyone plays a vital role in sharing ideas and contributing to the efforts needed by this project.

Another thing I have learned during this process is how much this project could potentially impact students in the Honors College. When asked about the hiring of a new professor for possible courses in the Honors College, students with an interest in science or medicine felt these classes would be a positive addition to the Honors curriculum.

Former AED (Pre-health Society) President and TCU Honors student Laila Abdeljalil said, “studying the humanities helps one understand the impact that science, technology, and medicine has on society” and helps better “fulfill TCU’s mission statement.”

Another Honors student, Caroline Gold, who is currently on the pre-med track, said, “taking humanities classes teaches students to think critically and engage new ideas.”

She further explains that, “in [her] science classes, [she] learned facts—much of which will be forgotten”. But “in [her] humanities-based honors classes, [she] learned a way of thinking.”

The new classes will give science majors the opportunity to expand their knowledge outside of the basic sciences and will provide them with new perspectives in how science and medicine function in our society.

The last major thing that I have realized during this process is how dedicated TCU’s faculty members are in providing the best education possible for their students. The fact that TCU’s Honors College is wanting to further enrich the education of its students by hiring this professor to teach these new courses is evidence of that alone. But what is more impressive to me is that every time I am in a room with the members of this committee, I am surrounded by people who advocate for the needs of the students and who genuinely care about the future of their students. This committee has expressed over and over again that they not only want the best candidate for the job, but that they also want someone who they believe will care about students as much as they do. Furthermore, the fact that they asked a current graduate student and undergrad student at TCU to be a part of the hiring process speaks volumes to how much they value the voice of their students.

I feel so blessed to have spent the last four years as an Honors student at TCU. Since I am graduating in May, I will never get the chance to take a class by the new Honors professor being hired. But the fact that I get to play a small role in the fate of the Honors College during my time as an undergrad is such a gratifying experience and an opportunity I am so thankful for. When Dr. Middleton originally asked me to be a part of the search committee, I had no idea how many great people I would get to meet or how many great things I would see come out of this process. I am looking forward to seeing which candidate this committee decides to hire in the upcoming months. I am confident whoever is chosen will uphold TCU’s reputation and will represent the Honors College with the highest degree of character, compassion, and intellectual pursuit.

Bailey Shepherd has recently navigated the many challenges associated with medical school selection and will be beginning her own next step toward becoming a physician by enrolling at UT-Southwestern in Dallas for medical school in the fall of 2016.

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