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What MMC Means to Me: 5 Faculty and Staff Members on Reaching Milestone Anniversaries

Get ready to celebrate! MMC will host Charter Day—an annual event commemorating the day we received our charter as an independent college—on April 3. Each year, as part of the festivities, we recognize hard-working faculty and staff who help make the institution special. And in 2023, our dais will be full: We’re honoring 22 faculty and staff members who’ve reached a milestone anniversary at the College. Altogether, they represent some 400 years of service to our community. We spoke to five of them about their time here and what makes the College unlike any other.

 

Susan J. Behrens, Ph.D.
Linguistics Professor
25 years

What brought you to MMC?
A friend told me that MMC was looking for an adjunct in Speech Pathology—and the contact for the position happened to be Ann Jablon (Professor Emerita of Communication Sciences and Disorders). I recognized her name right away, and she remembered mine. We’d met at Queens College in the late 1970s, working as undergrad and grad student researchers for the same professor!

Although I applied, I had three other job offers at the time, one being a tenure-track position at a CUNY school I could walk to—and the MMC offer was for just a year with no guarantees. But Peter Baker (bless him!) spoke to me and impressed me with his take on career possibilities at the College and the amazing people I would meet there. So, I took the job and never looked back.

What would present-day you tell that young adjunct as she started her first day?
I didn’t know then that MMC would become the place I would settle into and spend the bulk of my career. I had been an adjunct at CUNY, SUNY, and Montclair University. I saw myself as a wanderer, although I knew that was sapping my energy. I guess I would tell that young adjunct, ‘You’re home.’

What have you enjoyed most about being part of this community?
The people! Peter Baker was right: My fellow faculty members, the staff, and the students at MMC are wonderful. From my first day here, I have seen such great teamwork. In particular, Ann Jablon and I became very close. I feel so fortunate to have worked side-by-side with someone who became a great friend, wise mentor, shoulder to cry on, ear to vent to, and an all-around lovely person to laugh with and grow with daily. I also developed close friendships with a half-dozen alumni.

Are there any stand-out moments from your time here that you can share?
Oh, let me think! There are so many. I had a student who took language and culture with me and really resisted the linguistic principle that all dialects are linguistically equal. She couldn’t let go of her belief that the standard academic form was superior. She wasn’t a major but went on to become an ESL teacher and wrote to me a good eight years after graduation to say how she saw what I was getting at now. That’s a wow moment! Also, whenever a student says, “I never thought about it like that before,” it makes my day.

 

Dennis “Austin” Clark
Purchasing Manager
10 years

What brought you to MMC?
I’d been going to night school and clocking into my job at UPS at 3:30 a.m., which was not ideal for me. So, I applied to MMC thinking I would work part-time in the mailroom until I finished school—I graduated from Mercy College in 2013 with a degree in Business Administration. But I stayed on and was promoted, first to mailroom coordinator, then purchasing coordinator, and now purchasing manager. My time here has taught me that you can achieve anything with hard work and dedication.

What have you enjoyed most about being part of this community?
The cheerful energy and warm and welcoming atmosphere. I like seeing how happy the students are walking around campus.

Are there any stand-out moments from your time here that you can share?
The theatre is right across from the mailroom delivery door, and when I worked there, we’d always hear the students as they waited outside for their classes to begin. They used that time to rehearse their lines and were so convincing that I sometimes thought people were really in trouble or arguing! We’ve got some great actors here!

 

Alessandra Leri, Ph.D.
Professor of Chemistry, Chair of the Department of Natural Sciences
15 years

What brought you to MMC?
I’d always wanted to work in a small liberal arts college, and returning to the city of my birth after many years away was icing on the cake.

What have you enjoyed most about being part of this community?
I had only two female science professors during all my years of schooling, and joining a faculty of female scientists was very empowering. I believe in the strength of MMC’s Biology programs. Our alumni outcomes are terrific, and it is such a pleasure to see what our students go on to accomplish in healthcare, research, and all sorts of fields. The science students at MMC have a true feeling of community, which is not the norm in many college science programs. Here, students help each other and have each other’s back. It’s a delightful and supportive learning environment.

Are there any stand-out moments from your time here that you can share?
The Class of 2021, which graduated in the midst of the pandemic, was an extraordinarily resilient class. I taught their freshman seminar in 2017, and we formed close bonds taking field trips all over the city to study the urban ecosystem. It came full circle in Spring 2021, when I taught their Biology senior seminar over Zoom. We spent that semester unpacking the latest research on the SARS-CoV-2 virus, vaccines, and treatments. On the last day of class, we shared emotional tributes to each other through our screens. It was the first time a class brought me to tears. They all went on to amazing graduate programs and careers, and I could not be more proud of them.

 

Teresa Yip
Library Technical Services Assistant and Academic Support Coordinator
20 years

What brought you to MMC?
I started my undergraduate studies at MMC and loved it here—I began working in the library at that time as a student. I wound up transferring for financial reasons but later got a part-time job in the MMC library and was offered a full-time position after I graduated.

What have you enjoyed most about your time at the College?
The energy and vibe of our community. Working here helped me break out of my comfort zone; I used to be very shy and quiet. I’m still a bit of an introvert, but I enjoy interacting with students, faculty, and staff. My experiences at MMC have also taught me to be a bit more patient, because teaching something new to someone requires a lot of patience and time. I try to turn that inward as well: I’ve learned to be patient with myself when attempting to master something new at work.

 

Eileen Doherty, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Communication and Media Arts
10 years

What brought you to MMC?
I joined the faculty in Communication and Media Arts right after finishing my Ph.D. in Interpersonal and Health Communication at Purdue University. I was very excited to make the move from Indiana to New York City. I remember being nervous on my first day and that my wonderful colleague and officemate, Jenny Dixon (associate professor and department chair of Communication and Media Arts), took me to lunch at EJ’s Luncheonette, which helped make things a little less stressful.

What have you enjoyed most about being part of the community?
I really appreciate the relationships—friendships, really—that I’ve developed with my colleagues over the years. I also appreciate the opportunities I’ve had to teach the courses and subjects I’m passionate about to students who are so open-minded and curious about the world.

Is there a favorite moment from your time here that you can share with us?
In the fall 2020 semester, I taught a Public Speaking class over Zoom. It was a fun group. During one of our sessions, my students were delivering speeches as I eagerly awaited news about my sister, who was due to give birth to her first child any second. I checked my phone and saw a text announcing that my niece had arrived and shared the big news with the class. Everyone cheered. I happened to be recording that round of speeches, so I have that very happy moment with my students captured forever. It’s one of my favorite MMC memories!

Published: March 27, 2023