The “Up Close and Personal Speaker Series” presentation was hosted in Farrington Pit at noon last Wednesday. The speaker series is sponsored by the Sam Center as a way to help build relationships between students and faculty.
“I want students to recognize and understand how to build a mentoring relationship with them, and so this is just one more opportunity to bring their lunch and hear more personally from their faculty,” Dr. Bernice Strauss, director of Academic Support Programs at the SAM Center, said.
This month’s speaker was Dr. Karen Douglas, assistant professor of Sociology.
“A number of students have spoken to me about her impact on them. I chose her because students led me to believe that she was very committed to promoting student success and a number of students who I think well of have shared how instrumental she was in their development,” Strauss said.
Douglas graduated from the University of Texas with a Bachelors and Masters degree, and a Ph.D. She has been teaching for over a decade, first at Prarie View A&M University and now at Sam Houston State University.
“I care deeply about sociology and teaching,” Douglas said. “I’m very fortunate at Sam Houston. Here I have been allowed the opportunity to teach in areas that are my interests and my specialty”
With a Caucasian father, Japanese mother, and two adopted siblings, Douglas draws on her personal experiences with racial identity, as well as growing up in small town Texas.
“We are all shaped by our personal experiences, but that is not to say that everybody’s reactions are the same,” Douglas said. “I don’t feel like I have a racial category, it’s how I relate to other people.”
Past speakers for the series have included President James Gaertner and Dr. Katherine Pierce. Dr. Strauss has selected speakers from different departments, as well as looking at new faculty members to diversify the lectures.
“It has come to my attention that the faculty numbers are growing and we have this wonderful influx of new faculty to Sam Houston. This was a wonderful way to acknowledge and share their expertise with our students,” Strauss said.
The speaker series is an opportunity for students to forge new contacts with faculty members, as well as learn personal information about their professors not typical in a classroom setting.
“As Sam Houston grows, I was concerned that we will lose some of the informality, some of the warmth that really characterizes the culture of our campus,” Strauss said. “It is an opportunity to get to know the faculty members in an informal and more personal way.”