Jamie McMinn: Teaching it Forward

Posted on: Tuesday, November 11th, 2014 by Brent Treash
Nearly 20 years after graduating from Emory & Henry, Dr. Jamie McMinn can still hear the voices of his professors as he performs his job as associate dean of academic affairs and associate professor of psychology at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Penn.

Nearly 20 years after graduating from Emory & Henry, Dr. Jamie McMinn can still hear the voices of his professors as he performs his job as associate dean of academic affairs and associate professor of psychology at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Penn.

“I must admit that on any number of occasions as a faculty member or associate dean, I have found myself thinking, ‘What would Fred do,’ said McMinn, reminiscing about one of his most influential professors, Dr. Fred Kellogg, professor emeritus of religion. “If I bring even a modicum of his intellect and compassion to a situation, then I consider that a success.”

McMinn, a 1996 graduate, joined the Westminster faculty in 2003, teaching courses in social psychology, personality, Internet psychology, sexuality, and organizational psychology. He also teaches a Psychology Senior Capstone course, which focuses on advanced statistics and research methodology.

“For the general education curriculum, I have taught our introductory liberal arts course, which is parallel to E&H's former Western Traditions sequence,” he said.

McMinn never doubted his choice to attend Emory & Henry. He recalled that an E&H alumna presented him with a scholarship at his high school scholarship day. 

My parents were already impressed with E&H, thanks to Henry Dawson and Dr. Terry Griffin, and this sealed the deal. I had no choice, according to my parents, but to attend this wonderful school in southwestern Virginia. I packed the car to head to exit 26, and I never regretted it.Dr. Jamie McMinn

The professor always knew he wanted to teach when he was a student at E&H, but he wasn't sure of what until he observed Dr. Steve Hopp in a guest lecture. “Watching him teach in his idiosyncratic way resonated so deeply with me that I couldn't think of anything else but teaching psychology in a college.”

After developing more institutional experience while writing accreditation reports, McMinn began to explore administrative interests. This led to his appointment as the Interim Director of the Adult and Graduate Studies Office, and then to his appointment as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in January 2014.

As associate dean, McMinn confessed that the day he plans is often very different from the day he experiences. “At times, I am not sure which image best applies to my position:  the juggler, the firefighter, the counselor, or the negotiator.  Regardless, my love for students and learning makes my job a passion.”

McMinn, a psychology and English major while at Emory & Henry, said he made it a point to connect with professors at the College while he was a student because he recognized their incredible intellect would remain a life-long influence on him.

“I would not be in the positions I am today were it not for the academic training and the faculty models that the college provided,” McMinn said. “That environment helped me to grow into the person I am. My E&H education taught me how to think critically, to see problems from multiple perspectives, to answer questions that are important to me, and to approach people with compassion and professionalism. E&H taught me to believe in my own worth, to search for truths, and to remember that service to humankind is virtuous.”

Those same skills have helped him to advance in his own career. “The college's emphasis on giving back and leaving the world a better place underpins my service activities, including volunteer work at hospice facilities,” he said.

In addition to the knowledge and abilities he developed from coursework, McMinn said he carries with him the college's motto, Increase in Excellence. “That phrase is always with me, and rarely is there a day I don't use it to set my agenda. By increasing in excellence, I hope to leave my little part of the world better than how I found it.  That, to me, is a marker of success.”

The Facts

Hometown:  Tuxedo, NC
Major:  Psychology and English
Extra Curricular Activities: Psychology Club, E&H Psi Chi, a national honor society in psychology, Gender Alliance Group, Sigma Alpha Kappa, tour guide for Admissions Office, tutor for statistics students, and various theater productions.


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