Therese McCarty, Dean of the Faculty, Union College
The Byron A. Nichols Fellowship for Faculty Development:
During a teaching career spanning 40 years at Union College (1968-2008), Professor of Political Science Emeritus Byron Nichols taught students how to think by making them think. He promoted and engaged in meaningful intellectual, social and personal interactions with students both in and out of the classroom, helping them to recognize and actualize their potential for growth in all aspects of their lives. His approach to the development of students was always rigorous, intellectual, humanistic and compassionate.
In honor of Byron’s distinguished career, Susan Mullaney Maycock ’72 and her husband Alan Maycock, former professor of chemistry at Union, established The Byron A. Nichols Fellowship for Faculty Development. The rotating fellowship supports faculty members in developing courses, programs and skills that will enhance their intellectual, social and personal interactions with students. Consideration for the fellowship is given to recently promoted associate professors who demonstrate a commitment to Union’s academic community, to developing students, and to fostering positive change within the College. An advisory committee reviews applications and makes recommendations to the Dean of the Faculty who makes the final selection.
Ashraf Ghaly – Professor of Engineering
As the current Nichols Fellow, Professor Ghaly will use the fellowship to design Environmental Forensics, a new interdisciplinary course that will engage students in discussion and consideration of environmental mishaps and damaging disasters resulting from emissions, pollution, contamination or waste disposal. The course will integrate material from environmental science, ethics, engineering, law, policy and economics. Discussions will cover such topics as liability, environmental site assessment, insurance litigation, toxic torts, science tools, sampling and measurements, statistical analysis, chemical fingerprinting, contaminant transport models and environmental forensic microscopy. It will be designed to teach students to think independently, analyze assumptions, look for solutions to complex problems, and address the ethical implications of dealing with real world challenges.
Illustrative case studies will be used extensively throughout the course, and students will prepare position papers based on those case studies. They will also take part in a stakeholder meeting during which groups of students will present the issues under consideration from various perspectives and will defend their positions as they face questions and counter arguments from their classmates. The course will culminate with the writing and class presentation of a final term paper on a complex, real world scenario with many interwoven parameters.
“In other courses that I’ve taught I have always attempted to include material that bridges engineering, the sciences and the liberal arts,” notes Prof. Ghaly. “It will be a fascinating experience for me and for my students to be able to do this on a much larger scale in the Environmental Forensics course. I am truly appreciative for the opportunity this fellowship provides to make this dream come true.”
With a lead gift from Susan and Alan Maycock and gifts and pledges from more than 100 of Byron Nichols’s friends, colleagues and former students, approximately $830,000 has been raised to date to celebrate Byron’s legacy at Union College. Please consider a gift to help us achieve our goal of $1 million in order to endow the fellowship fund in perpetuity and to continue to honor Byron’s passion for engaging students in discussion and debate on important issues of our time.
“Our relationship with Byron dates back to 1968 when Alan joined Union’s chemistry faculty at the same time Byron joined the political science faculty. Susan was a member of the first class (1972) of women at the College. During Alan’s four years at Union, we both became very close friends of Byron and his wife, Lynda, and have remained so over the years. Because of our ongoing involvement with Union, we are aware of the issues and challenges facing the College and have a growing appreciation for the contributions that Byron has made. It is remarkable to note the impact that Byron’s courses, mentoring and counsel have had on the personal lives and professional careers of hundreds of students. We established this fund as a way to honor Byron and to ensure that successive generations of faculty members and students alike benefit from the values, skills and commitment that Byron has shared with the Union community over the years.”
– Susan Maycock ’72 and Alan Maycock, Professor of Chemistry (1968-1972)
The Nichols Fellowship is a very valuable addition to the College’s resources for faculty development. As a Nichols Fellow, a Union faculty member has support in thinking creatively and deeply about how to engage students in a way that further expands their critical thinking skills. This is a vital component of the Union experience that we frequently sum up as ‘Think, Connect, Act.’
– Therese McCarty, Stephen J. and Diane K. Ciesinski Dean of the Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Union College
If you are interested in learning more about the Fellowship or would like to contribute to the fund, please contact:
Bo Pedersen Geel
Coordinator of Donor Relations
Office of College Relations