Getting to know you

Which answer is false? Matthew Henry, Ph.D., associate professor and chair, physiology and pharmacology, 1) as a youth, skated with pro skateboarder Tony Hawk on his Bones Brigade tour; 2) when living in Wisconsin, co-owned a pub with his father and brother called Henry’s House of Sandwiches; or 3) has been known to use class time to play the video game Guitar Hero against students.

Which answer is false? Wayne Wilson, Ph.D., associate professor of biochemistry and nutrition, 1) won a gold medal at age 12 in the junior division of the Scottish National Tae Kwon Do Championships; 2) has grown bonsai trees as a hobby for the past 15 years; or 3) as a teenager, had his head shaved in such a way that allowed him to style his hair into a Mohawk on weekends.

With these questions, emcees Henry and Wilson opened the University’s first-ever “Get to Know the Faculty Night,” an event sparked by student leaders seeking to build community and break down barriers among students and professors in all DMU programs. After the two faculty members posed their “Two Truths and a Lie,” participating faculty and students – strategically assigned in mixed groups in tables of eight in the Olsen Medical Center – played three sessions of the icebreaker, with students moving to different tables for each session.

Hilarity ensued.

“The best part of the event was certainly the conversations that were had at the tables, and this was the point,” Henry says.

The idea for the event sprouted from a conversation Christina “Crissy” Moynihan, D.O.’15, had last summer with an incoming student who wondered whether she would get to know her DMU faculty the way she’d interacted with her undergraduate professors.

New faces and other changes among the DMU faculty, as well as events Moynihan and some osteopathic classmates attended at the fall conference of the Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA), led to further brainstorming. They reached out to the student government associations of the College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery and the College of Health Sciences and enlisted the help of the student services office.

“The event was open to all students and faculty,” says Moynihan, president of the DMU SOMA. “We wanted students to meet faculty outside their program as well as faculty they haven’t had in class yet.”

The event fostered that opportunity. “First-year and second-year students sometimes do not get a lot of interaction with faculty unless they are in lab, are very proactive or are having trouble with a course, so this was a great, stress-free way to get to know the faculty,” says Mali Schneiter, president of the D.O. Class of 2015 and vice president of the College of Osteopathic Medicine Student Government Association (COM SGA).

Tara Hughes, D.O.’15, COM SGA president, says the inaugural Get to Know the Faculty reinforced DMU’s “caring atmosphere.”

“Not only did students and faculty get to know each other a little better, but it was an opportunity to have fun and again remember what an amazing family we have at DMU,” she adds.

Responses to a survey taken after the event further attested to its success.

“I received survey comments like ‘I’ve not laughed that hard in a long time,’” Moynihan says. “So many students came up to me afterward to say thanks, and the e-mails kept coming.”

Answer key: The “lies” Henry and Wilson offered at “Get to Know the Faculty” were their second responses.

Web extra! Watch Associate Professor and Physiology/Pharmacology Chair Matthew Henry, Ph.D., take on a DMU student in a blazing Guitar Hero match up:

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