Diplomacy faculty member honored as online teacher of the year

ByMike V. Cooper

May 22, 2020

A global pandemic has not stopped Seton Hall from recognizing and honoring professors for their outstanding research and the quality of their teaching. In conjunction with the Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology, the Provost named Associate Professor of Diplomacy, Dr. Fredline M’Cormack-Hale, the University’s 2019 Online Professor of the Year.

M’Cormack-Hale joined the School of Diplomacy in 2008, where she teaches courses on international economics, African affairs and post-conflict state building. She also leads the School’s efforts to maximize the student experience in online learning as Director of Online Programs. Outside of teaching, M’Cormack-Hale conducts research in areas such as gender, development, international aid and reconstruction.

Her role as Director of Online Programs is key to ensuring that students who take online courses, either in addition to their in-person teaching or exclusively through the Online Executive MS program, have a rewarding and user-friendly experience.

“When I first started teaching online, I used to worry that I would miss interacting with students. But I’ve found that teaching online can be just as rewarding as traditional classroom teaching, “She continues,

“At the same time, it is a different medium and requires a different approach in order to create learning outcomes and experiences that, while different, can be qualitatively as good as what can be done in the classroom. online, I actually feel like I interact more with my students, especially one-on-one, which has really given me the chance to get to know them beyond the classroom.”

M’Cormack-Hale’s classes have been particularly popular, which comes as no surprise to his former students. “The fact that his online courses are among the first to be filled is further testament to his prowess in the format,” notes a recent alumnus. Outside of class, students agree that M’Cormack-Hale is affordable and accessible, any time of the day.

“It can be too easy,” M’Cormack-Hale says, “to just be nameless and faceless, especially because we can’t meet in person. To help counter that, I try to be as accessible as possible to my students.” She develops,

“Even though we don’t meet in class, sometimes I feel like I have more contact with the students than less, because they can reach me anytime and I talk to many of them regularly. J try to make sure that students know they can talk to me about anything and everything; it can be course-related, but we can also discuss career goals, questions about continuing their education, internships , jobs or student life in general.”

The impact of M’Cormack-Hale’s work has extended well beyond graduation, leading former students to describe her as “a dynamic and innovative practitioner whose courses have contributed positively to a knowledge of diplomacy and international relations as well as the overall experience at Seton Hall University. Another recent alumnus explains that “his thoughtful content and commentary made for some interesting lessons and reading that I continue to refer to in my professional career in the nonprofit sector.”

Undergraduate and graduate students confirm that M’Cormack-Hale exceeds its goal of making the online learning experience personal and engaging, with ongoing support available for coursework and extracurricular activities. An alumnus of the Executive MS program, exemplified this by sharing that due to M’Cormack-Hale’s mentorship, he will not only be presenting a paper he wrote for his class at the international conference “Central Africa’s Renaissance 1960-2020”, but his article will also be published. He sums up by stating, “Dr. M’Cormack-Hale’s pedagogy and teaching philosophy captures the spirit of excellence that Seton Hall University seeks to promote.”

But there’s no greater compliment than this: “When I heard that Professor M’Cormack-Hale had been named Online Teacher of the Year,” says a former student, “my heart filled with happiness. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award besides her.”

M’Cormack-Hale expressed her deep gratitude and humility upon learning that she had been named the recipient of the award, and thanked current and former online students. “I am truly touched, flattered and honored by the recognition,” she recalls. “I am so proud of our students and the work they have done.” She keeps,

“Many of them are juggling families, careers and life in general. Some are overseas in different time zones, while others are in active combat zones. Yet every week they will take time to work on assignments, interact and learn from each other and reach out to me. Each cohort is different, shaped by the different personalities, experiences and skills that each group brings together. This award pushes me to work harder to create the kind of environment for them that all deserve this praise and recognition.”

M’Cormack-Hale also highlighted the support she has received from her colleagues at the School of Diplomacy and the Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology (TLTC).

“Those of us who teach online usually have an entire semester to prepare our online classes. But a few weeks ago, in no time, everyone moved classes online, and according to this students have shared, my colleagues are doing an amazing job. I’ve spoken with them and learned some tips about what they’re doing that I’d like to incorporate into my own classes as well. We’re discovering new best practices and we are all growing from this experience. And we couldn’t be more grateful to have a very supportive team within the TLTC who go above and beyond to help teachers do a great job.”

In addition to M’Cormack-Hale’s graduate-level recognition, at the school level Associate Professor Martin Edwards was named Researcher of the Year, Assistant Professor Zinaida Miller won Professor of Diplomacy from the year and Adjunct Professor, Amy Higer, was appointed Adjunct Faculty. Teacher of the year.

Learn more about M’Cormack-Hale and her colleagues at the School of Diplomacy by visiting our faculty webpage.