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Last year the College hired 23 faculty members. 17 of these positions were permanent and six were visiting faculty positions. Of the 23 hires, four of them were for new positions, six were for faculty members who were visiting professors and are now permanent faculty members, four were full professors, five were associate professors, two were assistant Professors and two were instructors. The following details the lives and accomplishments of a few of these new faculty members, including Dr. Scott Eckert, Dr. Brad Stock, Paul Wesman, Joe Van Riper and Dr. Rick Grothaus:
Dr. Scott Eckert is a Professor of Biology and currently teaches the Wildlife Conservation and Field and Natural History courses. Eckert completed his undergraduate work here at Principia College. At that time, he wanted to become either a raptor ecologist or marine biologist. While at Principia, Eckert completed an internship at the Raptor Rehabilitation and Propagation Center in Missouri. After this internship, Eckert returned to his home in the Northwest, where he got a job as a photographic chemist. He worked on a processing site and created the blue screen special effects for the first Star Wars movie and the first IMAX movies. After this, Eckert and his wife, Karen (Thurbon C’80), who was also a biology major, both got their first biologically-focused jobs working with logger sea turtles on Little Cumberland Island off the coast of Georgia. After two years in Georgia, they moved to the U.S. Virgin Islands to initiate a leatherback sea turtle conservation and research project in the southwest corner of St. Croix. This lasted for about five years, after which Eckert and his wife gave the project to the first National Wildlife Refuge for sea turtles, which was adopted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Eckert went to graduate school and earned his PhD in Zoology at the University of Georgia. His dissertation explored what sea turtles do when they go off shore, how deep they dive and how they manage their oxygen stores at such deep levels. Eckert also went to Antarctica for two seasons and worked with emperor penguins. He monitored the dive behavior of these penguins and worked “to develop various electronic instrumentation to measure the behavior and activities of marine animals to understand how they fit their oceanic environments.” Eckert is currently working on a project called WIDECAST, the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network. WIDECAST is the largest and oldest scientific network of its type in the world and provides technical expertise to countries from Bermuda to Brazil on restoring endangered sea turtle populations. Finally, Eckert maintains a long-term community based conservation and research program for leatherback sea turtles on the Caribbean island of Trinidad. Eckert also worked at Duke University before coming to teach at Principia. One of his goals is to create a bridge between the two schools so that students who want to major in marine biology here at Principia can do so by taking required classes at Duke University. Eckert is also enjoys kayaking and photography in his spare time.
Another professor new to the campus this year is Dr. Brad Stock, the Harding Mott II Distinguished Professor in the History of the Christian Science Movement. Stock is currently teaching a course on the Life of Mary Baker Eddy and is very devoted to his study of the biography and works of Mrs. Eddy. Stock completed his undergraduate work here at Principia College, majoring in Theater and Studio Art. After college, Stock worked as a gaming consultant and helped to create games for the first Atari gaming machine. Dr. Stock studied International Relations at Tufts University, where he received his PhD. Stock then returned to Principia in 1988-1994, where he taught Political Science and created the International Relations major. He has worked for the Christian Science Board of Directors in the Board Office and in the archives of the Mother Church. Stock also helped to rescue financially a Christian Science Nursing Facility. When asked how he did this, Stock answered that he mostly used metaphysics to help the facility and turn it around economically. Stock said, “For me the biggest idea was on page 8 of the Science and Health, where Mrs. Eddy says, ‘If we turn away from the poor, we are not ready to receive the reward of Him who blesses the poor.’” Stock helped to shape a facility that provided Medicare/Medicaid and was benevolent to any Christian Scientist, no matter what his or her financial situation. Stock’s goal here at Principia is to “help students and help the future of the movement.” Some of Dr. Stock’s interests include spending time outside, playing the piano and playing games.
Paul Wesman is a new Professor of Mass Communications. Wesman is currently teaching Intro to Mass Communications and Public Relations. He is a Principia graduate and used to work in corporate communications. Wesman recieved his master’s from Emerson College in Boston, MA, and has done mostly communications related work. Wesman used to be a speech consultant for lecturers at the Mother Church and was also a freelance writer. As such, he would help people to compose their thoughts and ideas and create outlines that helped them to write their books. Wesman said he is, “enjoying getting his feet wet in the Mass Communications Department.” He also said that he is “enjoying being in the more rural atmosphere here… it’s a nice change of pace.” Wesman enjoys traveling and loves the purpose of Principia, the Christian Science movement, and supporting student development.
An instructor new to the Music Department this year is Joe Van Riper. Van Riper is currently directing the choir, teaching a class on the History of Popular Music in America and instructing private voice and trumpet lessons. Van Riper also graduated from Principia College and majored in music and sports management. After college, Van Riper worked for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox, serving as a clubhouse manager at both the minor and major league levels. Van Riper has worked in many different fields of work in his life. He said, “I went from baseball to music, from music into government contracting, and then ultimately back into music… It has been a great experience.” From 2007-2010, Van Riper worked in Washington D.C. as an independent contractor for the Department of Justice, primarily working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. While working in Washington D.C., Van Riper began his doctoral studies at George Mason University. There he served as a teaching assistant and worked with the orchestra, band and choir. Van Riper is currently finishing his dissertation, which examines mechanical music at the turn of the century. Van Riper also plays the trumpet and has had the opportunity to perform with the United States Army Band, Pershing’s Own. He was one of ten people in the country invited to audition as a conductor with the United States Air Force Band. Van Riper is also interested in old cars and trucks, and he is currently the faculty sponsor for ‘Panther Racing,’ the student organization on campus that operates the Radford Garage. He also loves old music, specifically Dixieland music and said he is, “really grateful to be at Principia. It felt like a homecoming to be here after being away for so many years.”
Associate Professor of Education Dr. Rick Grothaus is another exciting new addition to Principia’s faculty. Dr. Grothaus is teaching the Child and Adolescent Literature class and supporting the education Beginning Block. Grothaus specializes in teaching others how to teach. He said, “I’ve done teaching and consulting on a national basis, on leadership and educational practices.” Grothaus completed his undergraduate work at Luther College, where he earned his degree in music education. He completed his masters at the University of Wisconsin Madison and became a principal after that. Ten years ago, Grothaus and his wife started their own school in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. He said they “wanted to create a school where they could put into practice everything they had been learning and teaching others.” The goal of their school was to transform the lives of their students through learning. Grothaus finished his doctorate along the way at Cardinal Stritch University. He used the school he and his wife started to write his dissertation, which studied, “the role of parent/teacher collaboration in transforming student lives through learning.” Grothaus wants to elevate the understanding and practice of learning and to overcome the systematic barriers that surround how people teach and how they learn. Dr. Grothaus’s hobbies include orchestra and jazz band and sailing his boat.
I am a junior at Principia College, English major and a staff writer for the Principia Pilot.