Martina Nieswandt

An Exploratory Journey That Crosses Many Disciplines Led Me to Chapman University

Anyone who has been a candidate for a position knows that research skills come in handy throughout the exploratory process. On my way to becoming the new vice president for research at Chapman, I made a point of digging into the university’s website and seeing both Chapman campuses, where I spoke with faculty members, staff and students.

What fascinated me more than anything was the depth of student engagement I saw across all areas of research and scholarly activity. I learned that these connections often continue after Chapman students graduate, as many return during their careers to work with mentors as well as with new faculty members.

As I met new people, I often heard the term “Chapman Family,” and here I was experiencing it as if I were already a family member. It confirmed for me that there’s something special about Chapman. I knew that I wanted to be part of this community.

So now I’m here, and the hard but immensely rewarding work is in full swing. I see next-phase opportunities for a university that, in a relatively short time, has developed a significant research community as an R2 institution while also modeling the best aspects of the teacher-scholar model. The challenge of my office is to provide the support and resources so faculty in all 11 Chapman schools and colleges can pursue their research, teaching, scholarship and creative activity, fueling the university’s continuing climb as a research institution.

One of the important roles for our Office of Research and Creative Activity is to provide the space for researchers to create together, so that even across disciplines we can learn to speak the same language and share our unique perspectives, whether we’re computer engineers, social scientists, choreographers, historians, physicists or filmmakers.

As we consider the value of perspective and the bridging of communities, it’s vital that we also prioritize equity and inclusion. The only way we’re going to solve complex global problems is if the creative people at the table reflect the diverse composition of our society. On this I know that my new colleagues share my perspective.

It’s clear to me that at Chapman, we have a substantial foundation on which to build even more research success. Over the months since I started in October, my appreciation for this community has only grown, and I continue to draw inspiration from the work of our scholars.

Indeed, there’s something special about the Chapman experience. And the best part is that together, we have lots more exploring to do.

Martina Nieswandt, Ph.D., is vice president for research at Chapman University.


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