While 2020 has brought unexpected academic challenges across the world, the faculty at Columbia College have adapted quickly to virtual classrooms and maintained a high level of support for students amid the COVID-19 global pandemic. We took to the CCAA Facebook page to ask alumni about the Columbia College educators who made an impression on their personal and professional lives. Responses flooded in from experiences spanning five decades, a testament to the lifelong impact of education.
Lisa Isaacson joined the faculty of Columbia College’s Evening Program in 1982 and, for the past 16 years, she has channeled her passion for instruction into developing and teaching upper-level philosophy and religious studies courses through the college’s Online Program.
Courses include Introduction to Philosophy, Ethics, Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, Logic, Religion and Human Experience, Comparative Religion, History of Christianity, Introduction to the New Testament and Asian Philosophy and Religion.
Loved all the staff but would like to give a specific shout-out to Lisa Isaacson, who has been supportive both as an instructor and mentor.Tiffany Jefferis ’19, Online Education
“Lisa is meticulous in her course preparation and collaboration with Online staff in maintaining the currency of the courses she develops,” says Grainne Redmond, an online instructional support specialist. “Her knowledge is frequently praised by students in course evaluations. They also speak highly of Lisa’s commitment to their learning and growth as she connects with them and encourages critical thinking of the content.
Isaacson finds she gets to know her students better than ever through online courses. “I love teaching, and that’s fortunate because a degree in Philosophy pretty much means one will teach in higher education,” Isaacson says.
In fact, Isaacson has earned four degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia: a bachelor’s degree in music education, master’s degrees in philosophy and religious studies and a doctorate in philosophy. In 2018, she received the inaugural Deans’ Award for Excellence in Online Adjunct Teaching.
Richard James “Jim” Metscher inspired countless students during his 35 years at Columbia College. An adjunct instructor of sociology, Metscher started teaching Day classes and was one of the first instructors for the Evening Program in the mid-1970s.
Allyson Lesinski ’10 enjoyed his teaching so much that she took nine of Metscher’s classes and double majored in sociology and criminal justice. “If you were having a bad day, you would come into class and see him smile, and your spirits would immediately be uplifted,” she says.
The best professor I have ever had was Jim Metscher. This man went out of his way for everyone. Mr. Metscher was so down to earth, had stories for days. He knew everything about everything (literally) … We were all heartbroken to hear of his passing. RIP to the best professor ever.Allyson Lesinski ’10, Day Campus
Dr. Terry Smith, a longtime history and political science professor who served as dean of Academic Affairs from 1996 to 2015 and interim president in 2013-14, remembers his colleague fondly. Both avid and eclectic readers, they often exchanged book recommendations. When Metscher died unexpectedly in 2009, a memorial service was held in the college’s Launer Auditorium. “He was also a big Cardinals fan,” Smith says. “The only song played at his well-attended memorial service was ‘Take Me out to the Ballgame.’ ”
A scholarship created in 1983 in honor of Jim’s wife, Lizbeth Brydges Metscher, and a second scholarship created in Jim’s memory merged to form the Metscher Family Scholarship. Lizbeth was a respected humanities instructor in the Columbia College Evening Program.
More than 25 student recipients have benefitted from the scholarship over the years, upholding a family legacy that will continue to support students for generations to come.
A professional registered nurse for 35 years, Dr. Faye Fairchild spent the first 20 years in various ICU staff nurse positions, including nurse manager, quality improvement coordinator and senior-level leadership roles. However, she recalls her favorite days were those when she had a student assigned to her charge.
It was a natural next step in her career when Fairchild joined Columbia College’s full-time nursing faculty in 2005. Dr. Joyce Gentry credits her colleague with leading “creative, motivating and rigorous” courses. “She builds strong, professional relationships with her students and ensures that the students are prepared for the real-world of nursing,” Gentry says.
I played soccer for Columbia College, and Dr. Fairchild attended several games, pompom in hand, cheering on myself and a few of the younger nursing students who also played on the team. She knows her stuff, but she also knows how to teach the information as well as make it fun for us to learn. This may or may not include AC/DC music at 8 a.m.Kaitlyn Tambke ’19, Day Campus
Fairchild received the 2020 Trustees Award for Teaching Excellence, which is given to a full-time faculty member who demonstrates consistent excellence in the classroom and teaches rigorous classes with high academic expectations. In 2019, she was a recipient of the Columbia, Missouri, “Top Nurse” award recognized by the Internationa Nurses Association during National Nurses Week.
Her research interests include the retention of at-risk nursing students by applying remediation intervention strategies. Most recently, Fairchild presented her research at the International Conference on Nursing Education: Practice & Research in February 2020 in Valencia, Spain.
Fairchild received her BSN, a dual MSN (Administration & Education) and her Doctorate of Nursing Practice in Healthcare Leadership and Innovations from the University of Missouri–Columbia Sinclair School of Nursing. She is a nationally certified nurse educator and leads national one-day leadership workshops for charge nurses.
When talking to students, she encourages them to keep an open mind. “I have held numerous positions over the years that at first I wasn’t sure about,” Fairchild says. “I was glad that I was willing to ‘give it a shot’ and try because I found out so much about myself and interests that I didn’t know I had.”