Campus Closeup: Rebecca Mead
Rebecca Mead (History) is involved with NMU in several ways. She is not only a professor, but also a representative of the bargaining council, a member of the human subjects research review committee, and an active member of the AAUP. “My day never ends,” she said.
Mead begins her daily routine with refining material or hunting for supplemental material on the computer. Her afternoons are spent teaching, attending committee meetings, maintaining office hours and advising students. “There isn’t really a time where I put down work-related things for good; there’s always something more to read or a new trend in the field to keep up with or an individual research project to work on.”
But as busy as she is, Mead still finds time for recreational activities. Outside of the office, she enjoys knitting, sewing, skiing, going to musical and theater performances, playing with her cats, and winter. A native of Nashville, Tenn., Mead is often questioned about her love for the cold season.
“I love the snow and skiing, and a lot of people think that’s weird since I was born and raised in the south. I also did my undergraduate work in New Mexico and wound up going to graduate school in California, which makes it even weirder, I suppose.”
Not wanting to jump into a job right away, Mead took her time deciding on a place she liked.
“I wanted to find a pleasant community, and Marquette is lovely. It has many recreational opportunities year-round. I just hate it in May when winter is still dragging on and it’s not exactly warm yet. I also love NMU. It’s large enough to have a lot of programs, but still small enough to maintain good contact between professors and students. The general friendliness on campus drew me in.”
Mead has been with NMU for four years. In that short period of time, she believes she’s significantly contributed to her classrooms.
“According to student comments that I’ve received over the years, I add energy and excitement to what I’m talking about, which is what I try to do when the class falls in my area of expertise. If I’m interested in it, then I try to get my students interested in it, too. I also try to encourage them to share their expertise in the subject; it should be a participatory thing.”
Her funniest classroom experience occurred last year. Upon entering the room with a fully prepared lecture, Mead welcomed her students to her Native American History class. To her surprise, they politely told her that she was prepared for the wrong class. “I was so distracted that week; who knows where my head was,” she said.
The belief that information should be made practical is what Mead believes sets her apart. “I feel very strongly that, while the acquisition of knowledge is valuable for its own sake, it should also be translated into practical use. I’ve done projects in this area that no one else has done for this purpose. I have a translative nature, and it makes me feel good to use it for a constructive purpose.”
Campus Closeup is a regular feature of the NMU faculty-staff newsletter. It profiles individual employees, offering a glimpse of their professional responsibilities and personal interests.