Edward Chang, PhD

Go is a board game for two players that originated in China and Japan more than 2,000 years ago. Like computer programming, the game takes a great deal of strategizing. It’s no surprise then, that Edward Chang, PhD, associate professor of computer science, enjoys playing Go in his spare time.

Computers are a big part of Chang’s life. Stop by his office and you’ll find an office brimming with miscellaneous parts for computers.

“I work with the IT technicians to get computers for the students. My office is my workshop,” said Chang.

He is continually working to keep pace with advancements in technology.

“Computers change every year. In a history class, the name of George Washington will always be George Washington. I have to work ahead. I teach 40 percent of the time, which is supported by 60 percent of logistics. Equipment is expensive and I do the pricing myself,” said Chang.

Chang has been teaching at Maryville for more than 10 years, including classes in “computer anatomy,” or computer systems overview. Students learn practical skills, such as how to fix their own computers. Chang says his students often must overcome computer anxiety because a single bad experience can discourage them.

Chang, who thinks deeply about his purpose in life, loves what he does at Maryville.

“Some people see work as eight-hour doldrums like in a prison every day. Work is part of my life. It depends how you look at it. If you don’t want to learn, that’s tough on you and miserable. Learn to like lots of things. You will have to love what you do and do it well. My job is to help people, so it’s as good as anything you can think of,” he said.

Chang has found his life’s happiness and significance in helping other people, especially students.

“I suddenly realized, what is living a full life? Being full after eating a burger from the drive-thru?” said Chang.

Chang attains fulfillment by continually learning so he can better help people.

“I continue to read, listen and work. I want to know what’s going on. Work on your own happiness. A blind religion by itself may not work. God helps those who help themselves,” said Chang.

He is also in the process of writing his own book on a computer-related topic, which Chang says may take up to five or more years to finish.

Born and raised in Shanghai, China, for 25 years, Chang has lived in America for the past 25 years.

“I’ve lived in a state of communism and then in the “Land of Freedom and Dignity.” If I could live anywhere in the world I’d live in the United States. There are still many ugly things in America, like poverty, but I love her. There is nothing like home. If you love her, live home where you are,” said Chang.

Article by Erica Virgin

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Robyn Otty

Robyn Otty
Assistant Professor, Occupational Therapy

St. Louis weather may be a bit chillier than that of Las Vegas, but that does not deter Robyn Otty’s excitement about her recent move. For one, winter brings one of her favorite sports, hockey.

“Being in a town with professional sports is awesome,” said Otty, assistant professor of Occupational Therapy, who is a fan of her husband Rich’s favorite hockey team, the New York Rangers.

Otty says she also enjoys the fact that St. Louis has large trees; a landscape feature lacking in Las Vegas.

“I love driving and seeing the history of trees that have been around for hundreds of years, not just ones that have been planted within the past five years,” said Otty.

Though she moved from Las Vegas to our town this past December, Otty is originally from southern California. It is there that she cultivated another one of her passions – Disneyland. She used to visit the Magical Kingdom once a month, a tradition started by her grandfather.

“Some of my best memories are of him taking us when we were younger. I wanted that for my daughter [Jessica],” said Otty.

Since St. Louis is not conveniently located to either Disneyland or Disneyworld, trips may be less frequent, but that only allows more time for Otty’s other hobbies, such as reading and exploring technology.

“The computer is a hobby and a downfall,” said Otty. “I’m always amazed with how much information you can find online and quickly. I’m the in between generation of the technology boom, but I’m catching up.”

Otty, who still practices in the field, claims she became an educator by accident. She did not realize that she was applying for a teaching position at Touro University Nevada; she just thought she was developing working relationships. However, she seems to enjoy the addition to her career.

“It’s a very fulfilling profession to lay the groundwork for future college students; to see them thrive as professionals alongside myself,” said Otty.

As the weather cools this week, Otty will have to resign herself to more technology time, reading and hockey, but, perhaps as spring rolls in, she will have time to enjoy the blossoming of St. Louis’ large trees. Or take a scenic drive to reunite with Disney once again.

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Faculty Profile

Barb Shiplett, PhD

Barb Shiplett, PhD
Assistant Professor, Physical Therapy

“I have a fear of heights. I didn’t know this until I got into a gondola. I would like to overcome that fear by hang gliding or propelling down a zip line,” said Barb Shiplett, PhD, assistant professor of physical therapy at Maryville. Obviously, Shiplett is not afraid to try new things.

In her first year of teaching, Shiplett instructs fifth and sixth year physical therapy students. Before coming to Maryville, she worked in a variety of health care settings. She obtained her masters in physical therapy from Washington University, and her PhD from SIU-Carbondale in health education.

“The most challenging part about my job is being a new professor. Learning the teaching styles and how the students learn is a challenge, and it takes a lot of preparation,” said Shiplett. “The group I work with is great and I’m very fortunate.”

When Shiplett isn’t teaching, she enjoys gardening, volunteering at a no-kill animal shelter, spending time with friends and family, and reading.

“One of my favorite books is Amazing Grace by Jonathan Kozol. It’s a true story about the plight of marginalized people, and problems with healthcare education and health services. Everyone should read it to see what people have to overcome,” said Shiplett.

Along with The Sound of Music, Shiplett’s favorite movies include Out of Africa and African Queen. She has both a professional and personal interest in Africa.

“I would love to go to Africa. I would go to see the beautiful landscape,” she said. Shiplett also wants to help advance women’s health in Africa, as well as in the United States.

“I have a strong interest in women’s health, especially in osteoporosis and heart disease prevention,” Shiplett said.

Shiplett grew up in Carbondale, Ill., recently lived in New York for two years, and then moved back to the Midwest. However, her ideal place to live would be Hawaii.

“I love the culture and way of life. I would live on the island Kauai because it’s not commercialized,” said Shiplett. A beach vacation is her first choice, she added.

While she finds balancing personal life and work is a challenge, Shiplett said her family keeps her in check.

“I remember life is about balance and I make sure to take a few moments to look at my priorities. My family is very near and dear to me. We’re spread from the Midwest to the East coast, so time together is important,” said Shiplett.

Article by Erica Virgin

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Leilani Carver, PhD

Most Maryville professors can claim to have a similar characteristic – a love of teaching. For Leilani Carver, PhD, assistant professor of communication, her love goes beyond teaching–she also loves to learn.

“I love to learn, that’s why I teach, it’s why I became a professor and why I love to travel,” said Carver.

A longing to learn and a passion for travel has lead Carver to great adventures. She has visited 34 countries, 47 of the 50 states and St. Louis is her eleventh city of residence. For a year, Carver lived in Jilin City, China, and taught English.

“I was 26. I didn’t have a house, I wasn’t married with kids, so I thought why not,” said Carver.

During that year, she taught students who could read and write English, but could not speak it conversationally. As she taught English, she began to learn Chinese. Though she had visited Taiwan twice during college, she had not learned the language.

“Chinese is really difficult to learn because of the tones. One word can have five meanings based on the tones used,” said Carver. “It is very complex, but also poetic. The words are a combination of pictures. I only knew about 100 characters … you need 6,000 to read a newspaper.”

Carver once wrote a short summary of her adventures that included, in part:

“Some of the more interesting adventures I’ve had: I’ve taught at the oldest high school in Taiwan, was served (and ate) donkey while living in Northeast China, got completely lost by myself in Venice, attended two presidential inaugurations and an inaugural ball, visited 47 of 50 states, went sailing off the WhitSunday Islands in Australia, scuba dove in Tobago with a six-fingered dive instructor, danced salsa in Spain, surfed the South China Sea, went white water rafting on the island of Bali, interned for a congressman, and was hissed at by an angry alpaca on a four day trek to Machu Picchu.”

With adventures such as these, it is certain that Carver has had her fair share of learning experiences. It is also certain that her learning will not stop there.

“Taiwan started it and I wanted to see more,” said Carver. “I want to see the whole world.”

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Michele Muraski

Michele Muraski, PhD
Associate Professor of Nursing

Michele Muraski, PhD, associate professor of nursing, said it’s no surprise that she’s a teacher: it’s simply what nurses do.

“When you become a nurse, you automatically become a teacher,” she said. “There is so much patient education involved every day in the profession. It is just natural that you want to teach other colleagues and students that want to become nurses – not only the science of the profession, but also the art of caring.”

This fall, Muraski rejoins the ranks of full-time faculty at Maryville. She taught here for four years in the mid ’90s before leaving to complete her doctoral work. She recently returned as an adjunct faculty, after working 70-hour weeks in clinical management.

A native St. Louisian, Muraski is quick to point out her favorite hometown landmarks.

“We have a terrific zoo. When I go to other ones I realize how lucky we are. We have two medical schools here – that’s fantastic. I love The Hill – it’s like being in Italy, and it is the best place to go for Italian groceries. And Ted Drewe’s – it’s marvelous – you almost crave it,” she said.

Muraski loves Italian food at home too, but prefers it when her husband is the chef.

“My husband is a wonderful cook. He makes great pizza. These days he’s into making his own dough and cooking the pies over an open flame – I encourage him all the way,” she said.

An avid book collector, Muraski enjoys spending afternoons in The Book House, a used bookshop in Rock Hill.

“I love books, real books. I can’t get into the electronic books. You can walk through my house and see where I have been by what is on the shelves: self-help, biographies, dogs and babies and gardening and carpentry. I bet I have a book about something you are interested in at home,” Muraski said.

On a Saturday morning when there are no papers to grade, she can likely be found walking her two dogs or working in the garden.

“I’m in the process of creating a little outdoor haven in my backyard with some brick and stone and lot of bird feeders and houses,” she said.

For all her work to create a quiet place of reflection at home, Muraski still loves being on the road to somewhere new. Italy has been one of her most treasured destinations in recent travels, but there is another place she daydreams of exploring – the reefs of Australia. She doesn’t know how to scuba dive yet, but learning to swim in uncertain waters shouldn’t be a problem for Muraski. It’s what nurses (and professors) do.

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Gail Keutzer

Gail Keutzer
Associate Professor, University Library

A library is often viewed as a quiet place of learning, but that does not mean that the staff of the Maryville University library must remain silent. On the contrary, Gail Keutzer, associate professor of the University Library, uses her voice beyond the normal definition of “inside voice.” Continue reading

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Porismita Borah

Porismita Borah, assistant professor, doesn’t bear any of the telltale signs of having just submitted and successfully defended a doctoral dissertation. For instance, she still has hair. A St. Louis resident for about a month now, she has yet to finish unpacking her house, papers already await her grading, and yet she was glad to make space for an interview. Also, she clearly hasn’t forgotten how to smile. Gracious and extraordinary both describe Borah, one of the newest faculty members in the communication department of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The path to Maryville for Professor Borah winds back to New Delhi, India, where she was working behind the scenes at a live, 24-hour television news station. A self-proclaimed news junkie, she and her team hammered out headlines for a country of 1.1 billion, all day, every day.

“I loved the energy – how involved you can get in breaking news. It is such an important responsibility that the news media carries,” she said. Her work in the studio eventually propelled her to graduate studies and research dealing with news media and politics specifically related to the news media.

“Research and teaching were always in the back of my mind, really. It was just a question of when I was going to be able to study for the GRE,” she said.

Smiling at the confession, she admitted that she spends three to four hours a day scouring the Internet for news. Surefootedness in the slippery world of new media and Internet news will pay dividends in the classroom for, who likes to make her classes as interactive as possible.

“One of my favorite aspects of teaching is the interaction with my students; to be able to anticipate their questions and help guide them,” she said.

Most important film of our times?

“Gandi. He is someone we are all fascinated by. To play Mahatma Gandi is not an easy job, and [Ben] Kingsley did justice to the role. Intense characters – it is one of my favorite films and I continue to think of it often,” Borah said.

Despite all she has done in recent months, Borah still found time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park to take in the landscape and shoot some photography (a favorite hobby) after a conference in Denver this summer.

One of the things she is most looking forward to is exploring St. Louis. That, and having her house completely unpacked so she can cook (another relished pursuit) some spicy chicken curry or bake her first Missouri cake for her new friends. Until then, she will continue to enjoy life after dissertation defense (and keep tabs on a few dozen political blogs and news sites).

Article by Michael Dechane

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Steve Coxon

This year is Steven Coxon’s first as assistant professor of gifted education and literacy at Maryville. Coxon is also completely new to the area.

“I came from Williamsburg, Virginia, and I’ve only been in St. Louis for a week,” Coxon said. “I’m just happy I can find my way here in the morning without a GPS.”

At Maryville, Coxon said he instructs mostly practicing teachers who return to get their gifted certification. He teaches how to incorporate literacy in the classroom, which includes reading, writing, and listening. During the week, he also supervises junior practicum students while they work in the classroom.

As a professor, Coxon’s pretty busy, but his first priority is his wife Krystal and 2-month-old daughter, Sage.

“My main objective in life is to make my daughter smile,” Coxon said. “I try to speak to children like people, but I can’t help using baby language with Sage; she loves it. I also like to read her silly things like college level text books.”

Besides making his daughter laugh, Coxon’s other interests include gardening, cooking and Lego robotics.

“I think a lot of people would be surprised that I like to cook. It’s the way I relax at the end of the day,” Coxon said. “I love to cook Indian food. We’re vegetarians and we took a Thai cooking class when we went to Thailand for our honeymoon.”

“I coach kids in Lego robotics,” Coxon said. “It forces them to use lots of creativity, but also math and science. If something stops working they have to step back and think about it logically. This year, the Lego World Festival will be in St. Louis. I was excited when I found out it followed me here. Maryville will also be hosting a regional championship.”

Although he is now rooted in St. Louis, Coxon’s personal and professional travels in the past have led him across the world.

“I taught for a summer in Malawi, Africa. I was going to teach creative writing to eighth graders because someone told me they were fluent in English, but they weren’t,” Coxon said. “I switched to science and we went through steps to make paper airplanes, trying to discover which paper airplane could fly the farthest. They had never seen a paper airplane before.”

He has plenty of other travel stories, too.

“Once we went to St. John’s Island in the Virgin Islands,” Coxon said. “We took my foster son and it was his first time at the ocean. I’ve been scuba diving since I was 15, not very often, but I’ve only seen three sharks since then. Not 15 minutes in, we saw a 6-foot reef shark. Krystal almost took my arm off. My foster son asked me, ‘Do sharks eat people?’ I told him, ‘No, they’re fine.’ They usually don’t bother people.”

Article by Sarah Kidwell

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Rebecca Dohrman, PhD

Rebecca Dohrman, PhD
Assistant Professor, Communication

If you happen to see someone walking around campus wearing an “I ‘heart’ Belleville, IL,” you’ve probably come across new assistant professor of communication, Rebecca Dohrman, PhD. You may even be tempted to run up to her and tell her that you love Belleville, too. At least, that’s what Dohrman says often happens when she wears the shirt in random locations, such as visiting cities or cruises. Continue reading

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Paula Bohr

Paula Bohr, PhD
Director, Occupational Therapy Program

Paula Bohr, PhD, has been working at Maryville University for the past nine years. Along with her  teaching duties, as director of occupational therapy she also is responsible for program administration including compliance with accreditation standards, scheduling program classes, assigning faculty to teach, and mentoring faculty members.

Google has more to offer when you search her name.

“I have googled myself before. Some of my publications come up.  Of course, Maryville comes up.  It would probably come up with my husband’s Facebook page…I haven’t done that in awhile,” she said.

Along with her work at Maryville, Bohr finds time to pursue a variety of hobbies, which include singing, arts and crafts, woodworking, gardening and travel.  She has sung with the American Kantorei of Concordia Lutheran Seminary for the past two years.  She also enjoys traveling, often to Europe.

“My most recent trip was to Ireland for a wedding,” Bohr said. “My husband is a musician, and he was playing for the wedding.  I cantored for it.”

Although she loves to sing, Bohr said that if she had any superpower, it wouldn’t be about music; it would be a golden one.

“I guess I would want to be like Midas with the golden touch.  I could make money for charity, to help people in need. I’m not good at spending money on me, but I like to spend money on other people.”

Article by Sarah Kidwell

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