Dr. Richard Swanson – Exemplifying Sandhills Excellence
While there are community colleges from coast to coast, perhaps none attract the caliber of faculty that Sandhills Community College does.
Dr. Richard Swanson is a good example. With three degrees including a PhD, Dr. Swanson was a physicist in the U.S. Air Force for 22 years including a decade of teaching at the Air Force Academy and at West Point. This distinguished scholar also conducted research in high explosives, lasers, and condensed matter at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Air Force laboratories.
Professor Swanson now teaches physics, astronomy, math and engineering at Sandhills. He has led a statewide project for improving physics teaching and was involved in national physics teaching projects.
“This is a marvelous community in which to live and Sandhills is the right college for someone who loves to teach,” says Dr. Swanson, at Sandhills for 20 years. “At universities, faculty members often make research a priority. Community colleges attract people who genuinely like to teach.”
At Sandhills, Dr. Swanson says, the emphasis is on quality instruction. Even when he served as Sandhills’ Dean of Instruction (1998-2007), he also taught a class. “Just like deans before and after me, and just as President John Dempsey does today, I taught because I love teaching,” he reports.
Dr. Swanson himself has taken classes out of his expertise areas to, as he puts it, “keep on learning and realize what it’s like to be a student.” He has completed Sandhills classes in engine repair, singing, culinary arts and other diverse subjects.
Dr. Swanson points out that the support of the local community, including through the college’s Foundation, allows Sandhills to attract a high caliber of faculty.
“It’s exciting to see where Sandhills is headed,” he adds. “Often, the better jobs are for students with degrees in what’s known as STEM subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Sandhills makes sure that the right faculty is in place for what the students need.”
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