Dr. Timothy Neary wants his students to be more like the ancient Greeks. No, really. "Socrates recognized that serious study exposes how much more there is yet to learn," says Neary, the coordinator of Salve Regina's American studies program and an assistant professor of history.
"I hope my students gain confidence and pride in the knowledge, skills and wisdom they acquire through their scholarly exploration and hard work, but at the same time maintain an intellectual humility which recognizes how much more there is yet to learn," he continues. "This approach leads to a lifetime of learning."
A specialist in U.S. urban history, Neary's own lifetime of learning includes research in the areas of race relations, religious practice and neighborhood identity. He is particularly interested in encounters between different religious and racial groups in urban spaces, and his doctoral dissertation - which he plans to publish as a book - examined the role of the Catholic Youth Organization in Chicago between 1930 and 1954.
"Race, religion, politics and sport mixed to create a fascinating story," Neary says.
Neary has conducted additional research on the post-World War II urban renewal in Newport, the city Salve Regina students have called home for more than 60 years. While Newport's rich history, cultural resources and natural beauty attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, the city has fewer than 25,000 permanent residents.
"Newport must be one of the most cosmopolitan small cities in the world," Neary says. "Salve Regina students enjoy access to cultural benefits usually found in much larger cities amid the magnificent beauty of Narragansett Bay."
Neary, who joined the Salve Regina community in 2005, enjoys teaching courses such as Urban America and American Civilization I: Introduction to American Studies because they allow him to share his love of urban history and American studies with his students.
He notes that the study of history and American studies is relevant today because it helps students ask the big questions in sophisticated and analytical ways. "Moreover, the research, analytical and communication skills developed by history and American studies majors prepare them for success in a wide range of professional careers," he adds.
After graduating from Georgetown University with a bachelor's degree in American studies, Neary initially taught middle school in Baltimore, Md. "I loved the classroom teaching but wanted to integrate research and the life of the mind into my career," he says. "Getting a Ph.D. [from Loyola University Chicago] and becoming a professor has allowed me to do that."
Neary says his mission as a Salve Regina faculty member is to continue the work that the University's founding Sisters of Mercy have been doing in the field of education since 1831. "The University's mission statement calls on us to work for a world that is harmonious, just and merciful," he says. "This vision coincides with my view of higher education, which I believe is at its best when it unites a quest for personal development with a commitment to service."