New Rider faculty discuss their backgrounds and online learning

By Hailey Hensley

A suite of talented new faculty are added to Rider’s roster each year, and this year was no exception with five new faculty members being added across various departments. 

These faculty members bring a wide variety of expertise, ranging from photography to African-American studies.  

Three of the new faculty members responded to requests for interviews with the Rider News and answered a few questions to help the Rider community get to know them. 

The faculty being profiled today are Jennifer King, Nicholas McLeod and Jessie Oliano. King is a lecturer in the department of psychology, McLeod is an assistant professor in the department of history and philosophy and Oliano is a lecturer in the department of communication and journalism.

All of the new faculty interviewed had plenty of positive things to say about Rider, offering good feedback about the “family feeling” in the university community.

“I love how Rider has a family-like feeling. Everyone is friendly, and you never feel like a stranger here,” Oliano said.

The faculty all offered different insights regarding the courses they are most excited to teach, with all of them emphasizing their focus on their respective specializations.

“I specialize in the history of Africa and the African Diaspora, specifically focusing on how the histories of people of African descent have always been interlinked. At the moment I’m teaching the ‘History of Africa Since 1800,’ which I expect to teach regularly.  The students in my History of Africa Since 1800 course have been amazing so far, so I’m excited about what’s in store for next semester when I teach my ‘Black Atlantic Political Thought’ course,” McLeod said. “Not only will we be exploring how Black political ideologies developed in their own local contexts, but also how these ideas have evolved, traversed national boundaries, and influenced black political movements across the globe from the Haitian Revolution to Black Lives Matter.” 

King clarified that due to her background from a large university, the prospect of Rider’s more intimate environment was appealing to her. 

“I was attracted to Rider’s commitment to providing a well-rounded, student-centered education. Coming from a large research university, I was eager to work at Rider where I could more readily form more personal, and impactful relationships with my students,” King said. “Additionally, they have numerous opportunities for professional development to strengthen my teaching, which was a huge incentive. I was also very impressed with the faculty’s investment with their students, as well as one another. Being at Rider feels like being part of a close-knit community.”

Oliano stated that she was not very nervous about her new position, due to her years of serving as a priority adjunct instructor for the department of communication and journalism. This contrasted McLeod and King who both expressed concern and nervousness regarding online teaching and learning in a pandemic. 

“I want my courses to be able to fill in the gaps and give my students context and deeper understandings about history in general. So if I’m nervous about anything, it’s the pandemic because of the challenges it presents to teaching and learning.  This pandemic is taking its toll on all of us. Hopefully, we are able to get COVID-19 under control soon and return to conducting classes in a normal fashion,” McLeod said. 

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