This year’s UCC faculty of the year award went to Associate Professor Georgann Willis. “I’m incredibly honored” Willis said.
Completing her sixth year at UCC, Professor Willis said she had no plans of leaving UCC and will continue teaching the same courses: psychology, human relations, human development and human sexuality. Willis’ favorite course to teach is general psychology because it includes a full range of psychology and students don’t lose focus as often; also she gets to meet almost everyone on campus because it is one of the most required courses.
Another psychology course called abnormal psychology will be added next year but Willis will not be teaching it.
Prior to UCC, Willis worked at many other colleges including Germanna Community College, Lewis and Clark College and Southern New Hampshire University where she worked as a dean.
Willis’ favorite aspects of UCC include the beauty of the college and how close to nature and wildlife it is. She also likes getting to know the people here, especially the students. “My favorite part about UCC is to see students go through and finish school and being able to see them at graduation,” Willis said.
Her favorite memory so far was when she was able to go swimming one afternoon, right after the pool was remodeled, during a clear sunny day. She said it made her realize how beautiful the campus and the atmosphere really is.
Willis understands that students have many obligations and other duties outside of class. “Remembering who they are and how they stretch themselves so thin is the best way to connect with students,” Willis said.
Her favorite part about teaching at UCC is having day to day classes and term week countdowns. “The students are always excited about breaks between terms, and I get excited too,” Willis said, “It helps keep you motivated at your job.”
Some of her favorite moments as a teacher are when she sees students come into class thinking they aren’t smart enough or that they can’t pass the class, or college in general. Then, she sees them later in life with the opposite attitudes after they have realized they are smart enough and can accomplish things. After the shooting in 2015, Willis said it was amazing to see students and faculty return and continue to grow even after the recent trauma they had endured. There are moments when teachers can feel embarrassed. Willis says some of those things include messing up on a PowerPoint or forgetting to give out a test or even letting a class out early unintentionally.
Willis keeps up in her field by attending conferences. Willis learned that many new studies are looking into drugs like ecstasy to be used to treat PTSD in the military, ketamine to treat depression and oxytocin to help treat symptoms of autism. These studies are examining drugs that are usually tagged in a negative way and finding ways to use them to treat psychological disorders. She is also learning more about the significance of biology in the world of psychology and how much they really influence each other.
Willis said, “Environment matters a great deal. If resources are given to people with higher needs, like the poor, then it would help people a great deal psychologically.”