Name: Mark Schmidt
Academic Rank: Assistant Professor
Department: English and Philosophy
School: Liberal Arts
Office: CH 337
Phone: 973-328-5457
Education: M.A., Emory University
B.A., Rutgers University

Hired: 2017

For those who thoroughly enjoy reading novels, picking a favorite author is like a parent picking a favorite child – it’s impossible to only pick one. For Professor Mark Schmidt, he’s torn between two authors who are both regarded as among the greatest novelists of their time.

“I really admire Charles Dickens,” Schmidt says. “He saw ordinary, everyday things as absurd, but he presented a view that said, ‘I find these things as absurd as you do, but I’m not going to present them in a cynical way.’”

Schmidt classifies himself as an Americanist – a specialist in American culture or history. As for his other favorite author, Schmidt really respects F. Scott Fitzgerald. “Fitzgerald focuses on class issues, even though he tends to ally himself with the upper class. He seems conscious of the role that class, economics, self-presentation and definition play in our lives.”

Different types of writing can make readers feel a variety of ways, Schmidt says. In the classroom, he encourages his students to use writing as an outlet for their thoughts and feelings. One such student was a young woman who was in a difficult situation regarding the laws surrounding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy.

“She was very concerned about herself and her family, and it was impacting her schoolwork. I urged her to capture that feeling and communicate it to her readers in a class assignment that we later revised for inclusion in the Youngtown Edition. She did a really good job, and people in similar situations who read her piece saw that they weren’t alone,” he recalls.

Schmidt adds that he really enjoys helping students feel confident and become successful. While working at Rutgers University, he was involved in two programs: REACH and Upward Bound. In the REACH program, he worked with incoming freshman the summer preceding their first year at Rutgers to introduce them to the college environment. The Upward Bound program conducted classes after the school day with high school students who had not necessarily been accepted to colleges, but were most likely college bound.

“Teaching is a way to make an impact,” he says. “As a professor, I can bring my own experiences and often times failures to the classroom, so that when your students encounter the same situations, they’ll be better equipped to deal with them. Who knows where your students may go, and if you can be a little part of that, that’s really rewarding.”