A Sense of Permanence: Snow and Parsons Land Tenure Track

As a junior here majoring in political science, I haven’t yet gone a semester at Roanoke College without having a class with Dr Parsons. I came in with some entry level credits accounting for my introductory courses, and jumped right into a 200 level State and Local Government course with Dr. Parsons. In each semester following, whether it was an INQ course or a departmental class for my major, I found myself in a comfortable seat i’ve been in before. The most interesting facet of my academic career is that Dr. Parsons has had a huge impact of my entire process so far at Roanoke College; however, Roanoke College is only in the beginning stages with him. The same can be said about Dr. Snow

Stephen Kim, a sophomore Political Science major, has endured this same comfort I have in the classroom. Althouh, he has found his academic place in a variety of Dr. Snow’s courses. Kim (Class of 2019) has had Poli 111, INQ 260, and one of Snow’s favorite courses to teach, The Arab Israeli Conflict. Kim implied his comfort in these courses by mentioning, “Dr. Snow is one of the brightest minds I have had the pleasure of meeting. The way he pays attention to everyone in class and ensures they understand the material is a quality students really value in a professor. It has been my absolute pleasure to have these courses with him, and I couldn’t be happier he’s here”. Kim also noted that he strongly feels other students in the courses he’s had feel quite similar to him in this regard.

The common thread amongst the words of Kim and I are quite simple: although we have been academically pushed by these professors to the limit and uncovered ways to test to our minds, we couldn’t be happier they’ve been apart of our college experience. I had the pleasure of sitting down with both Dr. Snow and Dr. Parsons to hear their comments on receiving a long term permanent job at the school, their experiences thus far, and advice for the student body.

Both Dr. Snow and Dr. Parsons asserted the welcoming sense of “permanence”, and being to settle in and truly call Roanoke College and the Salem community their home. They equally expressed a sense of gratitude both towards the student body and departmental faculty for welcoming them with open arms and making the college feel like home before it truly was. Similarly, they agreed that having a department that is moving in the right direction and that gets along well together made adapting to the new environment less challenging. Although, that is not to go to say that the two have not endured challenges during their beginning years here.

For Dr. Snow, it was quite challenging to teach five new courses his first year here at Roanoke. Snow noted “Prepping for that many courses was exhausting and left me with little time to research, which had been my primary focus for the preceding decade-plus. This year I feel like i’m finally getting closer to the right balance between the two”. For Dr. Parsons, who was an assistant professor prior to coming to Roanoke, the main challenge was figuring out the best way to teach more effectively in a more condensed, lecture-style classroom setting. Both of them equally agreed that having attentive students that ask good questions made challenges like these easier to overcome.

Now, lets get to the stuff that puts these professors in a comfortable seat.

If you have had a class with Dr. Parsons or have heard him speak at co-cirricular events, it is not very hard to uncover his desire to talk about health and education policy. Okay, maybe it’s impossible to not figure it out. I have personally seen his ability to use these policy areas as frontiers for learning public policy, which is his favorite course to teach. Parsons noted, ” I love discussing with students the interactions between American political institutions and actors in the policy process, and how these interactions facilitate or hinder change in our political system”. On the other hand, Dr. Snow specializes and enjoys material outside of the public policy sphere. Snow specializes in security studies and middle east politics, and hopes his courses Arab-Isreali Conflict and Comparative Middle East Politics can become regular offered courses in the future.

So, did they have any advice?

Dr. Snow asserted desirably that he strongly encourages students to ask questions. He felt that in order to make the best of your educational experience here, the classroom must be a cooperative effort between the Professor and the student, both through inquisition and insight. Dr. Parsons, who also expressed this same advice, mentioned that it was vital to thinking critically in the classroom and apart of the process.

All in all, Roanoke College has just become home for both Snow and Parsons. In a world where higher education can be so fluctuating, the sense of permanence certainly allows the two to take a deep breathe. Not only has the tenure track become a pathway for them solidify themselves as members of the community, but students know they here to say.

I think there is comfort across the board.

Welcome home, professors.

Contact: Zach Harrell