Meet Jane Drexler, Ph.D., associate professor in the Philosophy Department and Faculty Senate president.
“Would you like to get a cup of coffee before we start?” invites Jane (as she asks to be called) while sitting at Salt Lake Roasting Company. Any awkwardness from being a few minutes late to meet her was immediately put to rest, and I quickly discovered in conversation her balanced and healthy demeanor.
Remaining open to others’ thoughts and ideas, combined with a passion for sharing dialogue, is a quality Jane brings to her courses as teacher. She encourages intelligent and active discussion.
“I get excited when I see students who wouldn’t normally think to interact with each other, or who don’t know each other, begin having in-depth conversations on an issue,” says Jane. “When I see them meeting socially outside of class for coffee or in the halls having a dialogue, then that’s something.”
That idea resonates in our conversation, which spans a number of topics from the recent convergence of visual arts and communication programs on the South City Campus, to architecture and accessibility issues, to teaching pedagogy and the challenge of online courses and to philosophy.
Jane is currently finishing her term as Faculty Senate President, an important role on campus, where a variety of concerns, such as curriculum matters and directions, are reviewed and discussed across several disciplines of faculty.
She believes in the benefit of a more integrated and cross-disciplinary approach to learning, something she would like to see more of at Salt Lake Community College.
“A great example is that I am among a small group of instructors in Professor Keleher’s biology course. That is interdisciplinary, and it’s been successful. We each teach a different subject focus based on our expertise,” says Jane. “It’s this cross-disciplinary approach that makes what is happening at the South City Campus exciting where synergy between students from different programs can flourish. I would love to see more classes taught with that general idea in mind.”
The newly opened Center for New Media combines under one roof the visual arts programs, Communication programs, Theater and the school’s Mass Communication broadcast center, creating opportunity for cross-disciplinary collaborating and learning.
Sparking synergistic thinking is something Jane has incorporated in her own teaching, including online courses.
PHIL 2300 Introduction to Environmental Ethics is an example that has been carefully designed and organized to both challenge and inspire the student.
Students are encouraged through workshops to have lively discussions in highly charged topic choices that range from historical philosophers up to current figures and issues that affect our world in recent decades.John Stuart Mill or Rene Descartes on basics of ethics might be in the same breath as Michael Pollan or Tim DeChristopher on water rights, biodiversity or genetically engineered foods.
Professional peers and students have recognized Jane’s passion for teaching.
She has received teaching awards and high reviews from her early tenures at SUNY-Binghampton, Kent State University in Ohio and now more recently with SLCC. Teaching in New York or in Ohio ultimately did not fit her sunny personality or her love of the more arid Western climate.
“I am from Colorado and basically targeted the Four Corners states of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah for where I wanted to teach, eventually landing a position here [at SLCC],” Jane explains.
The shift from teaching at a four-year university to a two-year college may be curious to some, but to Jane, it was not really a problem.
“I could not be too selective as full-time teaching positions in philosophy are few and far between,” says Jane.
“Also, teaching first-year courses is pretty much the same whether it is a four-year or two-year program. I love teaching here at the college and in Salt Lake. I live downtown, and the people are great.”
Jane’s educational background also includes two B.A. undergraduate degrees from Colorado University in Colorado Springs, one in Communications, the other in Philosophy.
She completed her master’s and doctorate degrees in philosophy at the State University of New York at Binghamton, a small upstate town at the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers.
Utah suits Jane fine, however, providing plenty of opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities and live a healthy lifestyle.