Professor David Szymanski: Natural and Applied Sciences and Valente Center Director

Professor David Szymanski: Natural and Applied Sciences and Valente Center Director

Her Campus Bentley: Where did you attend college and how long have you been at Bentley?

David Szymanski: I went to the University of St. Thomas for my undergraduate education in St. Paul Minnesota where I majored in geology and minored in criminal justice. All of my graduate work was at Michigan State University.

This is my 7th year at Bentley and I was confirmed for tenure in February of last year.

HCB: A lot of students don’t know what the Valente Center is and does, could you explain the center and your new position there and any goals you have for the future of the Valente Center?

DS: Our mission in the Valente Center is to ensure that the arts and sciences remain an important part of student education, but also research, teaching, and the intellectual life of the campus. We support faculty research, student programs in undergraduate student research, and programs to bring speakers to campus, all of which are in fields that are not just business, but also the arts and sciences. Everything we do at the Valente Center are things you just wouldn’t get in the classroom. A specific example of one of our programs is the Humanities Research Seminar which brings together faculty, students, and scholars from the Boston area to discuss research related topics.

My main goal is to raise student awareness and bring more students into our programs. Hopefully next year we will be able to say that more students know about what the Valente Center does at Bentley.

HCB: You’re the LSM coordinator for Earth, Environment, and Global Sustainability, why do you recommend students pursue an LSM and this LSM in particular?

DS: You consideration should be which LSM, not whether or not you do the LSM. It’s a second major that everyone can fit into their schedule and you get the benefit of demonstrating that you have a well-rounded liberal arts education in addition to your competency in the business side. You become twice as attractive to a perspective employer but it also has the second advantage of fulfilling your interests in a particular area.

EEGS is good with any business major because every business is going to encounter issues of sustainability whether it’s the price on carbon, how to improve energy efficiency, how to tell customers what they’re doing for the environment, or the triple bottom line. It’s important to address those problems in any business discipline, and the advantage in terms of sustainability is that you are that much more attractive and better sense of complex nature of sustainability.

HCB: What is your favorite course to teach at Bentley and why?

DS: This is my least favorite question because I love all of the classes that I teach. If I had to choose it would be The Geology of Cape Cod (NASE 334) which is a May intensive course. We work out on the beach all day learning about coastal terrorism and sustainability, and sea level rise and what that means for coastal areas. I like it because in any environmental science you can learn more in a week in the field than you can an entire semester in the classroom. I do love the other two courses I teach though. If I’m teaching it that semester than it’s my favorite course to teach.

HCB: What is your favorite Bentley memory?

DS:  My first semester at Bentley, I had a very small section of Environmental Chemistry and I invited the students to my house for a study session before the final. It was about 10 students and we sat around the table answering questions. We had pizza and they got to meet my family. I like those kinds of experiences because you are more of a mentor than a teacher which is one of the most important things you learn. Professors aren’t necessarily smarter than anybody else, they just have more experience thinking about problems and they like to teach that to other people. Good professors are ones you can relate to and you think of as both a mentor and an advocate for you. If you find a small group of those professors in college it can change your life, it did for me.

HCB: Do you have any cool hobbies?

DS: One that people don’t expect is that I ride a motorcycle. It’s a cool hobby, I think. My other hobbies are not cool. I’m a huge star wars fan and love Legos because of my kids. My wife and I have also been following a band called The Floating Men around the country for 20 years and we’ve gotten to go into the studio with them three times.

HCB: Do you have any funny science jokes? I know you like puns…

DS: I have a ton of jokes about elements, but I only use them periodically.

HCB: Have you eaten at LaCava or the 921 and if so what is your favorite meal?

DS: The Greek lemon chicken soup at La cava is the best thing ever.