Professors honored for their commitment to engagement with 2019 Boehlke fellowships

McDaniel College professors named Boehlke Faculty Fellows for 2019
August 14, 2019

Five professors have been named Charles A. Boehlke, Jr., Engaged Faculty Fellows in recognition of their exceptional commitment to their students — in classrooms and research labs, in career and internship experiences, on football fields and farms.

The 2019 Boehlke Fellows are Jim Kunz, professor of Social Work and program director for the Department of Social Work; Richard Laird, associate professor of Kinesiology; Gretchen McKay, professor of Art History; Holly Martinson, assistant professor of Biology; and Amy McNichols, associate professor of Spanish and director of the Global Fellows Program.

As part of his $1.825 million gift to the College, alumnus and trustee Chuck Boehlke ’78 established the fellowship program to reward faculty members who provide strong mentorship and experiential-learning opportunities to students, especially within the areas of independent student research, community-supported learning, internship support and study-away experiences.

Engaged Faculty Fellows each receive a stipend of $5,000 per year or a course release, plus up to an additional $2,000 per year for professional development or other engagement-related work. Fellows are selected annually for a two-year period and are not eligible to reapply for a five-year period.

Each of the Boehlke Fellows provides mentorship, leadership and experiential opportunities to apply their learning to their students in a diversity of fields.

Jim Kunz has served as a field placement liaison for over 90 Social Work seniors to date and helped over 200 students complete an estimated 6,000 hours of service for 12 local non-profits, expanding the reach of a McDaniel education into the community. Kunz looks forward to exploring ways to support and promote independent undergraduate research in the field for his Social Work students. He will partner with the Maryland Center for Economic Policy to involve students in a research project looking at the challenges and opportunities facing Marylanders living in poverty, paying particular attention to equity along the lines of race, ethnicity, gender and other dimensions of identity.

As an exercise physiologist specializing in the human response to training, Richard Laird loves to take his skills outside the classroom. He has volunteered as the strength and conditioning coach for McDaniel athletic teams and is the academic advisor for the McDaniel Strength and Conditioning Club, ensuring he’s able to make an impact on students beyond those enrolled in his classes. He connects with students on an individual level through lab experiments, field trips, independent studies and internships, which he has served as faculty advisor for 24 times. In addition to opening his home to students for holiday meals and Dorsey Scholars gatherings, Laird has also conducted collaborative research with colleagues and undergraduate students that has led to students presenting their research at the Mid-Atlantic American College of Sports Medicine conference.

Gretchen McKay may be a professor of Art History, but the recently appointed faculty athletic representative has found a home on McDaniel’s football field. She’s been a mentor to the football team, helping the student-athletes focus on their academics, envision their futures and plan for their post-graduation careers. McKay also takes an interest in all students who may have faced struggles or will face them in the future, with a passion for helping those students who may need a little extra support on campus to push for success both inside and outside of the classroom.

Holly Martinson enjoys collaborating with students through Student-Faculty Collaborative Summer Research projects and constantly seeks out avenues for students to present their research. She has taken students to the UMBC Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences, the Maryland Collegiate Honors Council Conference and the Mid-Atlantic branch of the Ecological Society of America. Martinson and students worked together to build deer-exclusion fences, identify over 100 plant species at the Singleton-Matthews property and examine the effects of white-tailed deer on the plant and insect communities. She also established an ongoing and collaborative ecological research project that tests the roles of nutrients and herbivores on plant community structure and dynamics. Working on this project during the academic year with her ecology students, she hopes to make authentic research opportunities available for as many students as possible.

Amy McNichols is a strong advocate for intercultural and global engagement, diversity and inclusion on campus. She has been the advisor and co-advisor to the Hispanic-Latinx Alliance for a total of 10 years. She also helped a group of students create Palabras to Words, a volunteer program where students help community members learn English. She created the Global Fellows Program as part of Global Initiatives in 2012, and through that program has worked with students on research opportunities and led them in discussions about ethical global engagement. She started a new course for Global Bridge students to introduce them to cultural studies and literary works that reflect their real experiences, allowing them the opportunity to develop academic and critical thinking skills in a course with personally relevant content. Moving forward, she will work with a team of Global Bridge students to research and create culturally responsive academic programming and innovative ways for students like them to have an easier and more engaged transition to college life. Their work will include student outreach to regional high schools, a one-day summer achievement program and opportunities to present research at conferences.

Charles A. Boehlke, Jr., is a retired executive vice president and chief financial officer of MSC Industrial Direct, a publicly traded distributor of industrial supplies headquartered in Melville, N.Y., where he served on the company’s board of directors until his retirement in 2011. He previously spent 17 years at Black & Decker in various positions, including chief financial officer for Black & Decker Mexico. He has often served as a guest lecturer in business classes at McDaniel. He earned his M.B.A. from the University of Miami in 1980 and was inducted into the Beta Gamma Sigma business honor society in 1979.

2019 Charles A. Boehlke, Jr., Engaged Faculty Fellows are (l.-r.) Holly Martinson, Jim Kunz, Amy McNichols, Gretchen McKay and Richard Laird.