Dr. Nicholas Park, Social Sciences department chair, works to build equity-minded teachingby Jan Janes on Feb 5, 2021
Dr. Nicholas Park, Social Sciences department chair, along with a whole host of other titles, focuses his scholarship in multiple areas at Gavilan College.
“I get pulled into a lot of groups doing interesting work.”
Currently he serves as Professional Learning Liaison, leading the work group as they built out Professional Development Days. Last year, the program expanded learning opportunities from one to two days.
“We decided to try the two days again, Thursday optional,” said Park. “People could get their flex hours. This gives part time faculty the opportunity to attend, even if they are teaching at other colleges.”
The virtual environment, according to Park, offers pros and cons. “Many people are on the screen all day,” he said. “It is tiring, research has shown it is psychologically draining, and the medium has some limitations.”
The upside? “More people are able to attend, and there has been more participation of part time faculty in Academic Senate and other meetings,” said Park.
Professional Development Days featured 22 break-out sessions on Thursday morning and Friday afternoon, some of which were repeated to ensure participants had a good selection. As college staff and faculty navigate the COVID pandemic, they work with students experiencing many forms of stress. At the same time, they are dealing with their own.
“When planning those days, we wanted to have sessions on mental health,” he said. On Thursday, representatives from Community Solutions talked about domestic violence. On Friday, college psychology instructor Garrett Macedo spoke about living in the time of COVID, and his department colleague Dr. Lorraine Levy conducted a mandala workshop. Kinesiology instructor Nick Fortino led a yoga class, and English instructor Scott Sandler addressed mental health issues discussing Habits of Mind. Counselor Stephen Gaitan presented resources available with the Gavilan College Behavior Intervention Team.
In addition to his work as department chair and working on professional development, Park has also served on the Academic Senate, Academic Staffing Committee, and as GCFA membership chair.
Previously he served as Faculty Mentoring Liaison for two years. “I wanted to build collegiality, an equity-minded approach to it,” said Park. “I wanted to create more connectedness. This was an opportunity for people to share their work, give and get feedback.” Twice monthly he scheduled experts in different departments to speak about their programs.
Currently Park is a member of the Meaningful Assessment Inquiry Group.
“I wanted to see more opportunity for people to come together as faculty and talk about the art of teaching,” he said. “It’s important to have that pedagogy community on campus, both for our students, and for us to keep talking and growing as faculty.”
“I didn’t want assessment to just check boxes, but to have more meaning behind the data,” Park continued.
His journey in higher education began at Gavilan College. He attended for two years, transferring to another community college to be able to support a family member. He transferred to San José University, double majoring in sociology and radio, television, film. After graduation, he worked as a board engineer, then decided to focus on sociology.
Park attended University of Nebraska, Lincoln, with a special focus in family sociology. He earned his Ph.D. in Sociology, Women and Gender Studies, along with additional certificate specialization. After teaching as a post-doc in Nebraska for one year, he served as associate professor at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston for three years.
“When the position opened up at Gavilan in 2016, I went for it,” said Park. “Family is here, I wanted to be closer. And Gavilan has been part of my life for a long time.”