This week I am introducing our first “Up Close and Personal” feature. So, let’s meet with Fr. Mark Nowel, dean of undergraduate and graduate studies and associate professor of biology (he also happens to be my boss).
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in Union, New Jersey, where I attended a parochial school staffed by Dominican sisters. It was when I was a graduate student studying developmental biology that I first met the Dominican Friars who were the chaplains at the University of Leicester in England. I was impressed by their preaching, their dedicated pastoring of the university students, and their life of evangelical poverty and common prayer.
So, it was after being surrounded by their example and guidance for the five years of my stay there that I decided to apply to the Province of St. Joseph. By God’s grace, I was accepted, and I joined the novitiate class of 1980 — along with Brian Shanley (now PC’s president) and Chris Cardone (now the Archbishop of Honiara in the Solomon Islands) and eight others. I arrived at PC in 1986 — shortly after my ordination — to teach biology and to assist the residence life office as a hall director in Raymond Hall. Since then, I’ve taught in the biology department, headed the residence life office, been assistant academic dean, and now the dean of undergraduate and graduate studies. I’ve moderated The Cowl and the Pre-Health Professions Honor Society, served as NCAA Faculty Representative, and assisted in the parochial ministries of many parishes in the Providence area.
What do you like most about your role as dean of undergraduate and graduate studies?
I enjoy problem-solving as our students strive to find their passions and overcome the obstacles to earning their degree. I also enjoy witnessing the passions of our faculty as they propose new courses from their impressive backgrounds to enrich our students in their areas of expertise. And, I tremendously love feeling the joy each year as our graduates cross the stage as I read their names — sharing in the well-deserved celebration of their accomplishment and attesting to their growth as human beings.
When you are not wearing your “dean’s hat” what do you like to do for fun? Any special hobbies?
I’ve always loved to travel, ever since I was given the life-changing opportunity to travel to England to begin my graduate work as a Fulbright Scholar. I’ve taken groups of students to China several times for an educational/travel summer opportunity. I’m fascinated by that complex country and culture. I love snorkeling, and I do a little woodcarving in the little free-time that Fr. Shanley allows me!
(Editor’s Note: I think Fr. Nowel is being pretty modest here. His “little woodcarving” has resulted in some beautiful pieces of work.)
Do you have any advice for parents as the end of the semester draws near and their students are faced with approaching deadlines for papers, class projects, and final exams?
If their sons and daughters have left finishing their major projects until the last minute, they should tell them that they need to take control of the situation to get their work done. There will be plenty of time for rest and relaxation and to catch up on their sleep AFTER their final exams are over and their papers have been submitted: THAT’s what the Christmas break is all about!