We’re back! Get To Know Dr. Tryan McMickens

It’s been a few years since the inception of a wordpress blog, facebook page, and twitter, but we are here to stay now. Please join us in our excitement as we re-ignite our flame and have our community come together again virtually. Near, far, recent graduate or legendary professional – welcome back! We’re glad to see you again.

Who better than to start us off than our very own Dr. Tryan McMickens, Director of our Higher Education program.

Who has made the biggest impact on your career? Portrait of Suffolk University professor Tryan McMickens.

The work ethic of my life-partner, parents, and family shapes and impacts my career. Current and former university presidents, colleagues, research assistants, and former students contribute to my thinking and career development. In addition, former professors, colleagues, and peers are instrumental to my career. I have a Board of Mentors who consistently challenge and support my professional endeavors. My board consists of Dr. Shaun R. Harper, Dr. Marybeth Gasman, Dr. Vivian Gadsden, Dr. Kimberly Truong, Dr. James Earl Davis, and Dr. James Antony.

What are your assumptions and knowledge about higher education?

My assumptions and knowledge about higher education continue to evolve over the years. I’m convinced that research and knowledge dissemination can be useful to a range of constituents who work within and beyond the formal parameters of postsecondary education. For example, I have witnessed how faculty who research issues related to social and racial justice can be activists who work collaboratively with practitioners, foundation officers, parents, students, and community leaders to enact change.

What inspires you the most about higher education?

I’m most inspired by my work as a professor who writes and teaches on issues of equity and diversity. My research agenda focuses on the ways Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) continue to shape and inform American society. Specifically, my research team and I pursue questions such as:

  • What role do these institutions play in the contemporary education and advancement of African Americans?
  • Specifically, how do these institutions prepare and socialize their students to respond to encounters post-college?
  • Historically and contemporarily, what role do college presidents play in these processes?

These themes are integral to the study of higher education in order to develop a more in-depth understanding of institutional complexities, fill the gaps in existing literature, and offer action-oriented implications for the future of these institutions. Given that the contributions of HBCUs are taken for granted and they are continually perceived as inferior to predominantly White institutions, I am committed to strengthening this body of scholarship.

What are your long-term goals?

I aim to be an effective scholar, teacher, mentor, and asset to the improvement of higher education. After a productive career as a faculty member, I believe my training as a professor and quasi-administrator will be an invaluable asset in helping me realize my ultimate goal of leading a college or university.

As the new program director, what are you looking forward to the most as Suffolk AHE celebrates its 40-year anniversary? 

Suffolk University’s Administration of Higher Education (AHE) Program started in 1976 and is now celebrating its 40th anniversary as a program. The AHE program is making significant contributions to higher education around the world. Alumni have assumed a wide variety of positions, including education policymakers, college and university presidents, vice presidents, doctoral students, faculty, deans, and persons serving in a wide variety of other diverse functional areas. The AHE program is looking forward to celebrating its alumni, students, and faculty and developing a strategic vision for its future.

What are your teaching, learning, and leadership philosophies?

My teaching and learning philosophy is to create a learning environment with an emphasis on discussion, critique, and a trustworthy community that embraces the perspectives that graduate students bring to the classroom. The essence of my teaching philosophy is to foster learning through critical analysis of extant theories and literature; encourage clear and concise writing; and use reflection for introspection and thoughts, assumptions, and beliefs regarding student populations. In addition, I aim to facilitate thought-provoking appraisals of course readings, identifying gaps in the literature, and incorporating the use of interdisciplinary perspectives from a wide variety of disciplines.  I partner with students on journaling during class sessions and in out-of-class contexts. This allows us to deconstruct our knowledge and assumptions about the social context of education and this encourages deeper examinations of theory and practice.

When you’re not immersed in the world of higher education, what are your hobbies?

My hobbies outside of work include spiritual development practices, fitness and health-related activities, volunteering, philanthropy, and time with family. I like to read, meditate, run, and spend time with my life-partner. These activities help increase my energy, vitality, and ability to manage life-stressors.

Contact Dr. McMickens  (tmcmickens@suffolk.edu for any questions or comments regarding his segment!