Heather Brennan Congdon

Heather Brennan Congdon is the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy Assistant Dean for Shady Grove, among many other various positions. Heather knew she wanted to be a Pharmacist at an early age and in high school she started making her dream become a reality. One summer she had the opportunity to teach children English and Math and she found herself really enjoying teaching. That feeling was reinforced during her Residency when she started teaching Pharmacy students. She discovered that her love for Pharmacy could be combined with her love for teaching and she found the perfect fit as a professor at a pharmacy school.

As the Assistant Dean she enjoys engaging and interacting with fellow faculty and staff at USG and the partner institutions, to develop innovative ideas and implement positive change. One specific innovative idea was the creation of the Interprofessional Education (IPE) concept that combines students from different healthcare programs and allows them to work in a team environment – gaining important real-world experience.

Heather and her fellow colleagues created the course: “An Interprofessional Approach to the Critically Ill Patient.” Students work in teams to solve simulated patient cases through three stages. The first is the introductory experience, where students learn their roles and responsibilities on a team in a classroom setting. The second is simulation and immersion experiences, where students practice cases with simulated patients in a safe environment. The third and final stage is experiential and clinical experience, where students work on a team to care for an actual patient in a clinical environment. The success of the course has been a rewarding experience for Heather, “My vision is to enhance and increase the number of interprofessional learning opportunities available for students on campus.”

Her advice for students is about team work, “Know your strengths and the areas you are not as strong in and align yourself with team members that compliment your strengths and other areas, so that the team as a whole can provide the best output and outcome as possible.”

Val Sharpe

Val Sharpe came from a family of teachers, so it was only natural that she would become a teacher herself. She graduated from Hood College in 1976 with a degree in Early Elementary/Special Education. She spent 17 years teaching in Baltimore County, before becoming an adjunct professor at her alma mater, Hood College. Through the years she worked in various positions, and then retired from Hood College, only to be contacted for a position at Towson University. Little did she know that the position was actually located at The Universities at Shady Grove (USG). Upon stepping foot on the USG campus, she knew this was a place she wanted to be, and promptly accepted the position as program director and faculty member for the Early Education/Special Education program (EESE) at Towson University at USG.

In her five years at USG, Val has become well-known as being a dedicated leader who goes above and beyond to support her students academically, emotionally, and professionally. As the program director, she arranges all of the internship placements and serves as the liaison at seven different schools around the county. She is an advisor for the student Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) at USG and brings students to the CEC convention every year, including this year where she was a presenter. Recently, Val was honored with the Kendall Service Award for Outstanding Program Director, for which she was nominated by her students and peers.

Every day she serves her students, the program, Towson University and USG in an exemplary fashion, with her palpable love of teaching children, professional connections, positive and caring attitude and warm smile. This is why Val Sharpe is the featured faculty member for the spring 2015 Faculty Focus.

Tina DiFranco

Tina DiFranco has gone from taking care of patients to fighting for patient rights to teaching students at UB's Health Systems Management program. Her life story about transitioning through three diverse careers is amazing.

Tina graduated from UMBC’s School of Nursing and spent 20 years as a nurse. There was a turning point in her nursing career when a patient did not want to be placed on life support and a battle for her rights ensued. It was the catalyst that Tina needed to pursue her dream of going to law school. She enrolled in the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America. She attended school full-time while still working as a nurse in the Emergency Room. Upon graduation she was able to fulfill her dream of becoming an attorney and advocate for patients’ rights.

Several years into her law career, a colleague asked her to cover a Health Systems Management class at UB. Tina decided to give it a try and realized that she really enjoyed teaching. Tina transitioned from the corporate world into the world of education. Tina has been teaching at UB for the past 14 years and is also the Program Director for the undergraduate Health Systems Management program at The Universities at Shady Grove (USG). The program is a combination of weekend and online classes, which accommodates students similar to Tina who may be transitioning into a new career.

When Tina first started out as a nurse she never thought that her career would eventually lead to teaching. Her career evolution and dedication to advancing her education is the reason why Tina DiFranco is the featured faculty member for the Fall 2014 Faculty Focus.

Dr. Henry C. Boyd III, Esq.

Even before Dr. Hank Boyd traveled to Hua Hin, Thailand to advise business leaders in Southeast Asia or to lead a group of MBA students in Cape Town, South Africa, he was on his own journey and unsure of where the road would end. Now, as a professor at the Robert H. Smith School of Business on the College Park campus of the University of Maryland, he also teaches at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG). Boyd has decidedly ventured down a road which has no end – the life of the mind. Well on his way, he continues to grow from his experiences inside the classroom and the corporate environment.

“I think that teaching is something where you feel like you are moving in the direction of mastering it, but you never fully master it,” Boyd said. “So, for me, it’s an endpoint I know I’ll never reach where you say ‘I finally have it’ and that way I have got to keep going and I’ve got to keep up.”

Hank Boyd took his first steps in academe at Princeton University as an undergraduate chemistry major stating he was “too entrepreneurial” in the lab. “I blew up a few things,” he admitted. Boyd then decided to apply his keen intellect and gift of gab in another realm – business. He subsequently pursued his MBA in Marketing from the University of California at Berkeley and then obtained his Ph.D. in Marketing from Duke University.

It was during the latter part of his self-exploration that Dr. Boyd realized he wanted to be an academic. He had always been enamored by the idea of teaching. As a child, Boyd would often visit the University of Maryland, College Park, where his mother was earning her doctorate in Counseling Psychology. The precocious boy would stand in the middle of a large lecture hall and pretend that he was a spellbinding professor in front of a captivated audience. Many years later, Boyd accepted his first teaching position at University of Wisconsin-Madison where he would also eventually earn his J.D. in Intellectual Property.

Beyond his academic credentials, Hank Boyd brings to the USG campus his diverse array of career experiences. His areas of expertise include biotechnology, consumer behavior, business consulting, pharmaceutical sales, advertising and marketing research. His research has been published in notable journals and his opinions have appeared in national publications such as The Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun. He has worked as a pharmaceutical rep at Merck, an economic forecaster at IBM and has consulted at firms including ExxonMobil, Verizon and SAIC.

Dr. Boyd’s diverse resume mirrors the character that prospective students will find at USG. This institution of higher learning attracts a student body dedicated toward advancing one’s career.

“I think they would find that this [USG] is a very intellectually challenging institution. I think they are going to find a wide array of classes that are available so they can take on various pursuits, but I think what’s neat is that the students they will be working alongside will have real like experiences and that’s something they can tap into. And that’s something you may not find at other institutions.”

“Students are thirsty for applicable, real-world knowledge,” said Hank Boyd who aims to avoid traditional lectures and instead encourage discussion and problem solving sessions geared toward contemporary issues. How to strategically market a local DC band or the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa are the kinds of topics he uses to engage critical thinking on the part of students.

Dr. Boyd is always eager to inject his lessons with cutting-edge material from own consulting endeavors. As he grows professionally, so do his students. On a recent project, he traveled to Thailand to serve as an executive education consultant in which he taught an intensive marketing workshop to industry leaders in the Oils & Lubricants division of a Fortune 500 multinational company.

“So when you look over your life and you think ‘where will the road take me?’ I had no idea. I could have never imagined that someday [I’d] be working for this major multinational corporation and be in Thailand teaching executives from various parts of South East Asia. It was really an amazing sort of event that happened.”

In the end, regardless of where the road of life might take him, Hank Boyd will remain a professor at heart.