Faculty sabbaticals announced


Ian Major

Greg Petrics

This semester, four Johnson State College professors were granted sabbaticals for one or more semesters of the upcoming 2018-2019 school year. Each of these professors was granted these sabbaticals to pursue a variety of academic endeavors, personal pursuits and projects, and travel plans.

Dr. Greg Petrics, associate professor of mathematics at Johnson State College, was awarded a sabbatical to pursue a variety of projects to enhance the mathematics programs at JSC. Petrics also plans on publishing some of his thoughts on math education that he has developed over his years as a professor as JSC.

“Over my seven years at Johnson, I’ve continued to refine my philosophy of how best to teach students mathematics,” said Petrics. “I’d like to refine those thoughts into something publishable and share it with colleagues both inside and outside the VSC.”

Over the years, Petrics has accumulated a large amount of lecture notes and created a variety of math-focused projects, and he plans on eventually organizing them into a monograph.

“I’m working on creating a new Calculus 1 monograph and accompanying website,” said Petrics. “I’ve always thought Calculus 1 — in spite of there being a myriad of textbooks out there — is a course that is desperately in need of a fresh, modern perspective that brings the field into the 21st century.”

Petrics also said that one of the wonderful things about this project is that he was able to make the website portion for this project open source, which enables professors and instructors outside JSC to use the materials for their own classes and academic research.

Petrics will also be using his time away from JSC to focus on studying the statistical software package “R,” used for statistical analysis in academics. While proficient with the program for his needs so far, Petrics wishes to further strengthen his knowledge of the program so as to be able to teach it as a mathematics course at JSC.

Dr. Elizabeth Dolci, a professor and chair of the Environmental and Health Sciences department, will be on sabbatical to focus on an unfinished academic manuscript, which will present results of her research on the microbial communities of aquatic environments within the mine at the Vermont Asbestos Group, located in Lowell and Eden, Vermont.

“The publication will include seven undergraduate or JSC graduate co-authors,” said Dolci. “Publishing a manuscript as an undergraduate significantly enhances a student’s resume and prospects for employment and admission to graduate school.”

Dolci will also be developing a curriculum within the science department that has a strong focus on discovery-based research experiences. Essentially, this new curriculum within the biology department will enable majors and non-majors alike to pursue the topic of biology outside the standard laboratory setting through more hands-on, real world experiences, experiments and research.

“Integrating research into the curriculum will afford more students opportunities to experience the excitement of genuine discovery-based learning,” said Dolci.

Other professors who were awarded sabbaticals include Bethany Plissey, chair and assistant professor of the performing arts department, who will be traveling to Estonia to attend the Europa XX Choral Conference. Plissey will also be working on developing a new undergraduate choral textbook, which will feature a focused study on the Baltics and Scandinavia.

Dr. Daniel Towner, assistant professor and chair of the writing and literature department, was another professor awarded a sabbatical for the upcoming academic year. Towner will be spending his time completing his verse novel, which is entitled “The Bony Orbit.”

With the variety of academic and personal projects being pursued for each of these, sabbaticals not only give professors a chance to work, but also gives them a chance to become renewed and re-inspired to teach.

“I’m also confident that a short break from my usual heavy teaching load will have me coming back to campus in fall 2019 refreshed and excited to get JSC students learning math again,” said Petrics.