Professor Larry Brandolph recently asked his lecture hall full of more than 100 students how to fix TUportal and Blackboard.
The exercise was not a hypothetical scenario posed by a textbook, but was rather inspired by a real-word situation in which the problems with the two systems caused delays and frustrations among Temple’s student body during class registration this spring.
The professor was quite familiar with the case study, as he is one of the university’s top technology administrators.
Brandolph, assistant vice president of computer services, is one of several university administrators who bring experience from their respective fields into the classroom as part-time adjunct professors.
“I’m bringing in real-world data,” Brandolph said. “I was in the midst of troubleshooting [the issues with TUportal and Blackboard]. So I came to class and – we knew exactly what failed at that point – and I was like ‘OK, who’s going to guess what the problem was?’”
Jodi Levine Laufgraben, vice provost for academic affairs, is also an adjunct professor and teaches a graduate class on planning in higher education in the College of Education. The class meets roughly once every month a semester for a night session, the rest of the material is taught online.
Laufgraben said education goes both ways in her course, with some graduate students bringing unique ideas from other institutions. Brandolph said his undergraduate class is also educational to him because he can directly gauge student sentiment toward a computer services initiative by asking students in his course.
Laufgraben has been teaching at Temple since 1995 after she received her doctorate from Temple and has been teaching the higher education planning course for five years.
“Being able to discover ways that students are learning in my class is a great opportunity for me,” Laufgraben said. “During the day I spend a lot of time working with faculty and other administrators, so this is a way for me to have contact with students and to keep student interests in mind.”
Laufgraben said balancing the duties of an administrator and part-time professor is a delicate exercise in time management. She said weekends, evenings and university vacation time is when she finds time to grade papers and do course planning.
Brandolph said his decision to teach on the side was not motivated by money.
“Trust me, they don’t pay enough. It’s definitely not [a career choice] from a money standpoint,” Brandolph said. “For me, it’s easy: I love to teach.”
Lisa Zimmaro, assistant vice president of risk management and the treasury, said seeing her students’ success makes the time sacrifices worth it. She teaches an introductory course in risk management and said she’s seen students change their major because of the course to pursue careers in the subject.
“For the students who come in as a sophomore or a first-semester junior and they go, ‘Oh this looks great, I really want to do it,’ you can really see the incredible change in them, the professionalism,” Zimmaro said.
Zimmaro said she’s hired a number of her promising students as interns in her administrative office. She said they’ve gone on to get jobs after graduation at insurance-related firms like the ACE Group, Chris Born Agency and Martel Insurance Services.
“To watch them develop is amazing,” Zimmaro said. “They do so well. They’re the ones who have job offers in hand by their Christmas break to start in May after graduation.”
Other administrators who teach include President Theobald and Senior Vice President for Construction, Facilities and Operations Jim Creedon.
Theobald taught a two-semester, one-credit seminar starting last fall that focused on organizational issues facing Temple. The course is again registered for Fall 2014 and requires special permission of an advisor in order to get into.
Creedon teaches a graduate course with sections at Temple Center City Campus, Temple Ambler Campus and an online version for Temple Harrisburg Campus. The course focuses on operational planning for disaster recovery.
Creedon’s Facilities Office managed the university’s response to Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, as well as an unusually snowy winter this year, the third-heaviest in the history of Philadelphia.
“[Former students] come up to me and say, ‘Thank you so much. I had no direction. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t know where I was going and now I know exactly where my career path is going. Thank you so much,’” Zimmaro said. “You know, I’m on cloud nine. You don’t get that kind of feedback and feeling of appreciation and value like I get from students.”
Marcus McCarthy can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @marcusmccarthy6.