Samantha England, Staff Writer
As the 2018-2019 school year begins at Saint Martin’s University, the campus welcomes a host of new freshman, eager transfer students, plenty of returning students, and also several new faculty members to the ranks of the Saints. Though there are many new faculty members who deserve recognition, we highlighted four who gave us a brief look into their past and future goals here at SMU.
William Stadler, Ph.D., started feeling lost in college and did not know which direction to take his life or career. Although he received his BA in political science, his interests spread to other social sciences and journalism as well. It was later in his political science program that he met his first criminal justice professor. From there, Stadler’s path was decided.
“…he really inspired me, and I just enjoyed his openness,” said Stadler, “The learning, the teaching, and [the] encouragement of students to learn more about the subject. So, he inspired me to continue taking classes, so I took an additional class and then another and another… I kept taking classes thinking ‘oh, this is a really cool topic.’”
This continued even after his undergraduate studies were completed, and he eventually exhausted all the undergraduate classes he could take concerning criminal justice or anything related to it. The faculty of the university suggested that he earn a Master’s degree in criminal justice. He did just that, going even further to achieve a Ph.D. Stadler became a juvenile corrections officer, where he found his great interest in the correctional side of criminal justice. He also worked for a company that developed and provided electronic health records for hospitals, healthcare organizations, and prisons. With all of this experience, Stadler had plenty of knowledge about working with those who were being served by community corrections systems. Between these jobs, he also taught at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, Mo.
Now returning to teaching, Stadler is eager to get involved with the Benedictine values and traditions that drew him to Saint Martin’s. Like his professor before him, he wants to bring that same inspiration to our campus and introduce students to criminal justice and how it affects our daily lives. He is deeply involved in the Criminal Justice Club at Saint Martin’s and wants to encourage students to join and to expand their opportunities and knowledge on the subject. In tandem with this, he also wants to help establish a chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma at Saint Martin’s, a national Criminal Justice Honor Society.
Keith Schuster, Ph.D., finished his undergraduate studies with a degree in marketing from the University of Washington. From there, he went to law school and was enrolled in a joint four-year Master’s of Business Administration program. He ended up liking finance more than law and earned his MBA in finance. Not long after that, he earned his CPA. For over 30 years, Schuster has been a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
A very interesting part of his work history is something that falls into Stadler’s area of interest. Schuster was a Special Agent with the Gambling Commission in Tacoma, Wash. for 15 years and spent a short time as a patrol officer—very comparable to James Bond, if Bond had decided to go into finance instead of international espionage. “[I] was an accountant with a gun. So, I carried a weapon for 15 years [and] did financial investigations.” Schuster described. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. He is also a veteran of the United States military and served in active-duty for combat operations such as Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and on reserve for Iraqi Freedom. He spent 28 years as a helicopter pilot and instructor and served on the maritime side as well as a Vessel Master for a short time, ending on the General Officer’s Staff.
His happiest memories, however, are with his family. Schuster met his wife in South Korea and has three kids. However, they are now empty-nesters with their youngest child attending the University of Portland this fall. His eldest son has recently joined the army to become a helicopter pilot, his second son is currently in South Korea as a fighter pilot flying F-16s, and his daughter has plans to become a pilot as well.
His message for the students of Saint Martin’s University is “…you’ve got to follow your heart, where do you want to go? But that’s hard to know sometimes. So, when I look back on my life, I’ve been very, very fortunate.” Schuster is all for the spirit of the year of service and is eager to give back to the community whose values he believes in wholeheartedly.
Dustin Zemel comes to Saint Martin’s University with a Ph.D. in English and a deep interest in film and media studies. He finds that in today’s world, English departments in universities are homes for critical studies and critical thinking across all platforms. “It’s not just about literature for rhetoric anymore. A lot of English departments are building classes and programs and curriculum where students can apply some of the theoretical skills that one would normally learn English from it for media, film, television and digital.”
Zemel had the opportunity as a graduate assistant to work with one of his English professors on a documentary film at Louisiana State University. The film discussed prohibition and its links to American oyster farms in southeastern Louisiana and the community they developed in that area over the past eighty years or so. It was a wonderful learning experience for Zemel as he was tasked with turning the footage into a cohesive and coherent narrative.
A far cry, certainly, from his undergraduate study days when he avoided English and humanities classrooms like the plague. This changed as his path after college brought him back around to appreciate both subjects more wholeheartedly.
Zemel came to Saint Martin’s University after applying for a job opening that employed his background in film and media and utilized his ability to approach the discipline from several different angles. He also encourages his students to gain insight on how to interact with communities and gain a practical skill set in class. “…one thing I really hope to achieve in the classroom is, you know, to help students get excited about what they’re learning, [and] to keep students engaged and excited about the media that they’re interacting with on a daily basis. Because that excitement can fuel critical engagement and thinking skills so they’re not just passive consumers of the different media, but excited participants in the larger media landscape.”
Patrick Cooper, Ph.D., entered the field of theology by his own personal interest and questions, having been brought up as a Roman Catholic. He actively pursued those questions and was encouraged throughout his education to do so, from an all-boys Jesuit high school in Cincinnati, Ohio all the way to the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. For him, it was a deep learning experience, especially concerning theology and its relationship to philosophy: “ So theology for me… and a vigorous type of questioning of assumptions and one’s view of the world.”
Shortly after becoming married in Cincinnati to his wife Helena (from Bern, Switzerland), Cooper was accepted to the University of Leuven’s theology graduate program and thus moved to Belgium and months into his marriage became an expectant father.
After he finished his doctorate at the University of Leuven, he became a professor and a director at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology, another Benedictine institution, though a seminary rather than a liberal arts university. Cooper was familiar with the Benedictine values at Saint Martin’s University, saying “I think that Saint Martin’s is a tremendous place that I’ve been greatly impressed by in so many different respects. But I feel that I have kind of a unique perspective on the differences of various Benedictine monasteries and institutions, You know, each monastery has a bit of their own character.” And Cooper would like to bring out that uniqueness in his work at the Benedictine Institute.
It’s this character and the relationship between the monastery and the university that Cooper wants to facilitate and build upon while here at Saint Martin’s. He finds that it fosters the relationship between faith, and reason, opening up dialogue that is truthful, respectful, and productive. Especially when there’s a monastery promoting a liberal arts college such as Saint Martin’s University, and in this Cooper feels that as long he can help usher this into the community and have it spread to the wider world, he will have done his job.
Certainly, Saint Martin’s University is honored to have these four professors, along with many others who have joined our faculty this year.