Monthly Archives: July 2015

Susan Gano-Phillips Appointed Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

This information re-posted from an email sent by Doug Knerr, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs:

I’m delighted to announce that Susan Gano-Phillips has accepted the appointment to serve as Interim Dean of theCollege of Arts and Sciences.  This appointment is pending Board of Regents approval.


CAS Interim Dean, Susan Gano-Phillips

Professor Gano-Phillips received her B.S. from the University of Michigan, her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and is also a licensed psychologist in the State of Michigan.  She joined the University of Michigan-Flint faculty in 1993 as a Lecturer, was appointed Assistant Professor in 1994, promoted to Associate Professor, with tenure, in 2000, and to Professor in 2011.  She was also appointed as a J. William Fulbright Scholar in general education to the City University of Hong Kong during 2008-09.

Professor Gano-Phillips’ administrative appointments include serving as Director for the Center for Learning and Teaching from 2003-07, faculty liaison for the University Outreach Center for Civic Engagement from 2007-08, Interim Assistant Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences in 2010, Chair of the Department of Psychology from 2012-13, Interim Associate Dean from 2013-14, and Associate Dean since 2014.

Professor Gano-Phillips’ scholarly activities include the book A Process Approach to General Education Reform: Transforming Institutional Culture in Higher Education, as well as over 15 refereed journal articles.  She has presented at over 30 conferences including a plenary address at the 2012 Association of American Colleges and Universities General Education and Assessment Conference.  She has also presented over 50 professional development workshops in Hong Kong, India, China, and across the United States.

Professor Gano-Phillips is the recipient of numerous teaching awards and is a strong advocate for civically-engaged learning, having worked in partnership with Whaley Children’s Center and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Flint to provide students with experiential learning activities in service to our community.  She has coordinated faculty development collaboration between four area higher education institutions (Quad-POD), served on community boards, and provided consultation to agencies such as Genesee County Family Court, KIND Program, Shelter of Flint, among others.  Her service record on campus is extensive and impactful, encompassing the full range of curricular, governance, and strategic committees and task forces during her tenure.

I look forward to Susan’s leadership in moving the College of Arts and Sciences forward.  Please join me in congratulating her and supporting her in her work.


Get to Know BIO Alum Derrick Townsend


CAS Alum Derrick Townsend, Biology 1996

Your name, major, and year of graduation:
Derrick Townsend, Biology 1996

What are you doing now?
I am currently a Quality Ingredient Manager for The Kellogg Company. I manage a portfolio of ingredients including vitamins, spices and seasonings, and sweeteners by assuring the materials we purchase are safe and meet the needs of our food developers and manufacturing facilities for use in our breakfast, frozen and snack foods. I get to visit supplier manufacturing locations to foster a cooperative working relationship between our suppliers and Kellogg’s. I get to work on complex projects with a cross section of experts from various fields including engineers, food scientists, marketing directors and regulatory experts. My role is extremely rewarding and a lot of fun – and how many people can say they work for Tony the Tiger?

How did your University of Michigan-Flint education prepare you for what you are doing now?
I am frequently recognized for having a critical mind and for being able to analyze processes. Often I am called upon to help improve a business process or evaluate a technical problem and provide solutions. UM-Flint provided me with the skills necessary to be successful in these tasks from a scientific perspective but also as someone who can get results in cross functional team environment.

Who made the biggest impact on your UM-Flint career and life?
I would have to credit two people who really had an influence on me. Dr. Kathy Lavoie (no longer at UM-Flint) and Ernie Szuch taught me how to be a critical thinker in the classroom, in the lab and in the field. I also learned a great deal from them after I graduated and was working as an adjunct in the Biology department. They taught me how to dig deeper into a question and not settle for the “easy answer.” I believe my critical thinking skills have allowed me to be successful in my professional career.

What is the value of UM-Flint professors developing curricula in which classroom learning & concepts are applied to real world situations?
UM-Flint is unique in this way. Many of my peers in graduate school and colleagues in my career did not have the same opportunities for interaction with professors outside the classroom that I was fortunate to have. Hands-on research experience as an undergraduate was definitely an advantage for me coming out of school. The benefit for students is to be able to explore your capabilities while still having a very close mentoring relationship with faculty. In addition, these opportunities might spark an interest in an area you might not otherwise get to explore.

Can you describe a firsthand example of an engaged learning experience at UM-Flint?
I was often fortunate enough to be able to travel with faculty to Mammoth Cave in central Kentucky and assist with research there. This experience taught me that research is hard – it doesn’t come easy. I learned that research is often slow and that it takes time to develop sound conclusions. It also gave me an appreciation for the behind the scenes work underway in many of our national parks in an effort to better understand their biology and ecology – all in an effort to help preserve these resources. Personally for me, it solidified a love of the outdoors and an appreciation for our natural world and its resources.

What does UM-Flint do better than any other university?
I think UM-Flint should take pride in the rigor of the academic programs offered. In my experience, the faculty at UM-Flint are there because they want to teach. They want students to get a good solid foundation in their respective disciplines and be successful after graduation. Because of this, they work hard at providing a top notch educational experience. This was explicitly evident to me in graduate school when I realized I had a much better foundation in biology and a more well-rounded education than many of my peers.

What advice would you give to an incoming UM-Flint freshman?
Become involved and engaged in the university culture. When you enter college you become part of a community. This is especially true at UM-Flint. Take advantage of this fact. Join a club – in my time at UM-Flint I was a member of the Biological Sciences Club, the Pre-Med Club, Amnesty International, and Student Government Council. Get to know the faculty – I developed some wonderful relationships with many of the faculty in the Biology department while I was a student. Often, this opens doors to opportunities for research or jobs in the departments. Get to know the staff in your department – the admins and support staff in the departments can be a great resource as you navigate through your education. Find a job on campus – I can’t even remember all the various jobs I had in different offices on campus – Computer Lab monitor, Advising assistant, Orientation, and Lab Assistant are just a few. This is a great way to meet people from other departments. Most of all – enjoy the experience. Trust me, once you’re done – you’ll miss the place!

How would you describe “the UM-Flint of the future”?
Considering that it has been almost 20 years since I was a student, I think what UM-Flint has become today is on the trajectory of what I would have imagined as “UM-Flint of the future” when I graduated. I am happy to see there is now a residence hall on campus – this was being talked about while I was there. I am also very impressed to see all of the graduate degrees now being offered. In my opinion, UM-Flint has taken great strides toward expanding their reach and increasing the breadth of their influence.

If I would describe “UM-Flint of the future” after today, I would expect increased investment in facilities and technology. Wouldn’t it be great to have a natural history or science museum on campus? What about an astronomy program with a high powered telescope facility! How about an enology/viticulture or brewing degree? How about an agronomy or food science program to educate scientists who can create solutions for the world’s agricultural, food and nutrition concerns?

I would absolutely expect UM-Flint to focus on meeting the needs of society by continuing to offer variety and rigor in the programs of study and by conducting meaningful research in order to better our world. Whatever UM-Flint becomes in the next years and decades, I am confident that it will be done with excellence and the result will be greatness and I look forward to what’s to come. GO BLUE!!!

For more alumni stories and news, visit the CAS Alumni Resources page:

Philosophy Alums Find Success in Grad School; Reflect on Time at UM-Flint

UM-Flint Philosophy alums have a long history of finding success in their academic and career fields. Douglas Grattan and Thomas Mann, two recent graduates, are no exception as they have both been accepted into teaching assistantships with full tuition waivers and annual stipends as they pursue their graduate degrees at separate institutions.


Douglas Grattan, 2014 grad with a major in Philosophy and a minor in Economics.

Douglas Grattan (2014) will be heading to the Master’s Program in Philosophy at Colorado State University. In addition to his academic duties, he will be working on revisions to a book he’s written. When asked how he expects to spend his time at CSU, Grattan said, “As far as plans go, most of my time will be spent teaching or working, and in my free time I hope to finish the book completely and look at getting it published, as well as continue working on another book that I have in the works. Other than that, I hope to get involved on campus as much as possible and try to present at conferences whenever the opportunity arises. The time I don’t spend on all of that will be spent exploring the hiking the mountains, biking, and exploring the state.”

When asked how his time at UM-Flint and in the Philosophy Department prepared him for this next step in life, Grattan said, “Above all else, the philosophy capstone course was a huge boost for me—I was able to work on a literary review (that was eventually published online), intern at a philosophy conference, and at the end of the semester present a paper in a conference-style setting, which are experiences that I will have to repeat as a graduate student and which I thoroughly enjoyed. Beyond that, every philosophy class that I took was beneficial to me in some way, as I used many of the ideas that I learned within them as springboards for parts of my books and for other research projects. In many ways, I have used or will use everything that I have learned at UM-Flint, and I am eternally grateful for it.”

Grattan speaks of Dr. Simon Cushing as the faculty member who made the biggest impact on his time at UM-Flint. “[He] was by far my favorite professor. I enrolled in every class of his possible because he was extremely knowledgeable, approachable, interesting, and witty, so I always looked forward to his classes. I learned a great deal from him, and in many ways I wish to emulate his teaching style as both a graduate teacher and as (I hope) a professor later in life. In addition, while I was only able to have him as a professor in the capstone class, Dr. Stevens Wandmacher had much the same effect on me and gave me a great deal of encouragement.”

Grattan’s time at UM-Flint was not entirely spent in a classroom. “Part of the capstone class that I mentioned above was a two-month internship with the Center for Cognition and Neuroethics, which is a joint collaboration between the IINN in Flint and the philosophy department at the college. Through this, students in the capstone class are given the opportunity to do research on particular subjects that are of interest to those that run the institute, which they in turn incorporate into their medical practices or use as means towards further research, as the research is published online in the form of a literary review. This benefits society because the topics are of immediate importance to the medical field and beyond, given the fact that they have to do with questions of morality, patient rights, memory, personal identity, and much more. This was personally meaningful to me because not only was I able to make an impact in some way, but the topic that I chose to research opened my eyes to a great many topics and problems that, more than anything, led to my decision to specialize in applied ethics as a graduate student. It also became the genesis for the second book that I am currently working on.”


Thomas Mann, 2015 graduate. Dual majors in Philosophy and History.

Thomas Mann (2015) will be heading to the University of Memphis for his philosophy MA this autumn. He also credits the faculty of the Philosophy Department for preparing him for this next step, “Certainly the philosophy department was extremely unique. Not only did the instructors do a wonderful job teaching, but they also got students to get excited in the subject. They also began the Michigan Undergraduate Conference and the undergraduate philosophy journal, which was very useful to me personally because it provided experience that very few undergraduates have.” When asked to describe the impact of specific faculty members, Mann said, “Dr. Cushing’s logic class for first getting me interested in philosophy, Dr. Veillet’s classes that gave me a perspective in philosophy I probably wouldn’t have been interested in otherwise; Dr. Wandmacher’s feminist ethics class and encouragement; Dr. Artis’ combination of history and philosophy, and Dr. Anderson’s classes that really got me thinking and writing better.”

Mann also found value outside of his first major’s department, “Also the history department was a big impact, especially Dr. Molnar, who not only took over the reins as my advisor but was always there for encouragement and guidance when I wasn’t confident I was much of a writer of history. There was also Dr. Kosnoski [of Political Science] and Dr. Lutzker [of Economics], who fostered and encouraged my interest in social theory, politics, and economics. I was also able to talk to Dr. Kietzman [of English] about the life and thought of some rather obscure figures, and that meant a lot to me as well.”

When asked about advice for incoming College of Arts & Sciences students, Mann said, “Do try and find what you love to do, what you are truly passionate about. And then try and find some other people who enjoy that as well. I would encourage this to be primarily academic, as it is an academic environment, but it can be extracurricular too. Sometimes students choose a major without a passion for it, or with an idiosyncratic passion for it, and it can die quickly if you think it’s too strange or too unusual. This should never be a reason to give up a/n (academic) passion! If there isn’t a club on campus, make one. If you don’t think anyone else is interested, ask around and see if there are majors in that subject. If nothing else, talk to a professor in the subject.”

Grattan added, “I would advise them to get involved as much as possible . . . and to get to know their professors. There are a multitude of opportunities on campus and within the city, as Flint is rebuilding and UM-Flint is a large part of that, giving students many unique chances to impact the community around them. In addition, professors are, in my experience, highly approachable and willing to give advice or help to students, meaning that they are invaluable to your education in a way that goes beyond just the classroom. Lastly, I would also advise them to open up in class, as many of my favorite memories at UM-Flint are the lengthy discussions within classes, as many of the professors strive to make their students part of the class and ask for their input rather than just lecturing. This allows for everybody to have a voice and hear many viewpoints or ideas that otherwise they would miss out on.”

To learn more about the Philosophy Department at UM-Flint and the ways in which they prepare students for their futures, visit their website. For updates and more news on alums and students, visit the Philosophy Facebook page.