Geneva Core Values: Foster Academic Strength - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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April 5, 2019

Geneva Core Values: Foster Academic Strength

“God writes a different story in each person’s life,” says Dr. John Stahl, chemistry professor at Geneva. Dr. Stahl’s love for chemistry started when his aunt gave him a book of science experiments for his eighth birthday.

“I was hooked,” he says. “It was when I attended Geneva myself as a freshman that my love of chemistry really blossomed under the teaching of Dr. Roy Adams and Dr. David Badger and other faculty.”

After acquiring his PhD from Penn State University and working elsewhere for a time, Dr. Stahl felt a calling to return to Geneva and teach at the college level. “God made it clear that this was His plan,” he says.“So, I joined the faculty here in 1985. I have not regretted it – this is a wonderful community to be part of.”

In over 30 years of teaching, Dr. Stahl has watched technology develop and change, and students come in and out of the chemistry department and go on to thrive in their respective fields. Although much has changed, the faculty’s care for their students has been a constant.

The Chemistry Department’s academic rigor as an ACS approved program continues on through the dedication and hard work of the faculty, but the success of the program would be impossible without the intellect, willingness and perseverance of Geneva students.

“Having good students in our program helps raise the level of academic strength and the academic atmosphere,” he says, noting that academic excellence is contagious.

Dr. Stahl hopes Geneva’s scholarships, such as the Dr. Roy M. and Madelyn W. Adams Endowed Chemical Sciences Scholarship, which was established in 2016, will let capable students attend the college regardless of financial situation.

“The Roy and Madge Adams Scholarship can give that extra incentive and help to a few interested and capable students to attend Geneva and study chemistry with us,” he says.

Geneva ChemistryGeneva has prepared hundreds of graduates in biochemistry, chemistry or chemical engineering through the years. Many students have earned PhD’s in chemistry and chemistry-related fields and gone on to teach, create and serve.

Jon Neiswinger ‘07 married his college sweetheart and earned a PhD in Immunology. He’s currently a college professor, Stahl says, and Susan Wilderman ‘06 helped build the chemistry club’s best ever homecoming float. She went on to a master’s degree in environmental science and serves the Lord and her students at a Christian school in New England. Sam Shouse ’12 and Cally (Cooper) Shouse ‘13 were the first of five Chemistry Department marriages over the past ten years, and they are doing excellent work in their careers.

“I could go on and on,” he says, noting that many chemistry alumni come to mind when he thinks about successful graduates. “It is hard to pick out just a few.”

Although Dr. Stahl says he enjoys hearing how professionally successful his students have become, he says that hearing about the Lord’s provision in their lives trumps it all.

“It’s great to hear about job and career developments and all of the interesting chemistry they are doing,” he says, “but it’s also great to hear about their families and their church involvements and mission trips, and about how God has been faithful in their lives.”

Geneva’s Chemistry program offers a dynamic approach to educating students to promote academic strength in three ways. First, the department’s curriculum follows the guidelines established by the American Chemical Society’s Committee on Professional Training, and the program has been approved by that committee since 1958.

“This means that our courses contain the subject matter that is important for a good foundation of knowledge in the chemical science,” Dr. Stahl explains.

Second, the student-professor relationship is strong because small class sizes allow intimacy between students and teachers and also because professors purposefully care about their students. “The best education happens in an environment where Christian love and caring are the foundation,” according to Dr. Stahl.

Third, students get practical experience through research and design projects, which allows them to apply chemical principles they’ve learned in class to the real world. “Research teaches our students how to think on their own at a higher level and also how to solve problems. It is a great way to develop scientific maturity,” he says, noting that the faculty have even been able to present some of the student’s work during regional chemistry meetings.

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This post is part of a series highlighting Geneva College’s Core Values and the people in the Geneva community who bring them to life. It was originally published in the Spring 2018 edition of Geneva Magazine.

Geneva College is a Christ-centered academic community that provides a comprehensive education to equip students for faithful and fruitful service to God and neighbor. To learn more about resident life as an undergraduate, contact Admissions at 800-847-8255 or admissions@geneva.edu.