Truman Review Winter 2002 - Index

Winter 2002
Vol. 7. No.2

Hopes and Dreams Come to Life for the Fine Arts Division

Homecoming 2002

Around the Quad
Faculty / Student Profiles
Foundation News
Alumni News

Class Notes*

*The Class Notes section for this issue is no longer available online. To request a copy of Class Notes for this issue, e-mail

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Truman Review Winter 2002 - Profiles

Russ Baughman

They Think, Therefore I Was

All it took was one little science requirement, and before he knew it, Russ Baughman was hooked on chemistry.

Picture of Russ Baughman

In the ninth grade, Russ Baughman took a general science class to get the required unit of science out of the way. Then he planned to focus on his favorite subject area - shop classes. However, that one science class involved half a semester of chemistry that was destined to change his future. “Bottom line is I never took another shop class,” says Baughman, who began his 26th year as a professor of chemistry at Truman this fall.

Maybe it’s this same adaptable nature that allows Baughman to move so easily from the chemistry lab to playing in the orchestra to playing slow-pitch softball in the city league. His wide range of interests exemplifies the well-rounded individual who is at the heart of a liberal arts and sciences institution’s mission. “I tell my students - especially in CHEM 100 - that I’m trying to help them get in the habit of going from one area to another, whether it’s a professional situation or simply a social setting, and have some idea of what is going on or maybe be able to intelligently contribute,” says Baughman.

With a mother who was an opera buff, and a father who was a member of the Army Band in World War II, Baughman grew up listening to classical music. Today, it is not uncommon to hear strains of Wagner or Beethoven coming from his office. On days that the University Symphony rehearses, Baughman can be seen heading across campus carrying his French horn. As a member of the Truman Symphony, he is currently the only non-music faculty member who goes on tour with the group.

On warm days, one might find Baughman playing slow-pitch softball. His team - made up mostly of chemistry faculty and students - has taken the open league intramural championship twice. He enjoys playing because it gives students a chance to see him in a different setting. “Some really good friendships develop,” says Baughman. “And it shows that we do get out of the lab occasionally.”

Among his many and varied interests, teaching is where Baughman gets the greatest satisfaction. For him, it is crucial that his students feel comfortable coming to him with any question on any topic. “In the kind of classes that I teach, physics and chemistry kind of merge with each other and there’s often lots of calculus in all that,” says Baughman. Because of this complexity, Baughman realizes a student may not be at top speed in all three areas. “I set the bar high to maintain certain standards, but I let them know I’m going to be there.”

Working with research is an added benefit to being part of Truman’s chemistry program, and Baughman enjoys being able to show the latest results in his classes. Seeing the impact of results from these real research-level experiments taking place on the Truman campus provides students with up-to-the-minute ideas that are currently being promoted in science. “It’s way ahead of the journals because it hasn’t even been written up for publication,” says Baughman.

Because of his genuine interest in his students, the connection Baughman builds with them frequently continues beyond graduation. He considers all of his students members of his extended family and is always pleased to hear about their many successes. The pride he feels is evident in a phrase he coined by making a slight twist of the familiar “I think, therefore I am.” Baughman’s version goes like this, “They think, therefore I was.”

Susan Nelson

Living and Learning

Graduate student Susan Nelson knows how to make every minute count, and on any given day, one might find her preparing her graduate thesis, training for a marathon, or
jetting around the country on business.

Susan Nelson

Susan (Johnson) Nelson holds one of the greatest gifts a person can have - a lifelong love of learning. A graduate student at Truman, Susan not only seeks knowledge through her studies, but also through her work, as well as in her life outside the classroom. Between pursuing a master in English degree and working at a travel-intensive job, she still finds time to discover new and exciting ways to continually broaden her horizons.

Susan’s boundless energy flows into all aspects of her life, including her studies. This semester, the instructor for her Ethnic Literature course feels honored to have a student like Susan in her class. “Susan is an extraordinarily superior student, easily one of the most brilliant it has been my privilege to teach,” says Hena Ahmad, assistant professor of English, who is especially impressed with Susan’s ability to articulate her thoughts, verbally and in writing, with elegance and precision. Her professor enjoys seeing Susan’s enthusiasm about her work and how she carries that energy with her to class.

This same high level of energy carries over into Susan’s professional life with a job that often has her traveling around the country. As the assistant director of admissions at the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, she gets endless opportunities to journey around the United States meeting with prospective students and health advisors. A frequent business traveler, Susan’s job has taken her to the east and west coasts, as well as all four corners of the country.

Susan’s travel adventures have not been confined to purely business travel. During her undergraduate years, Susan had a case of wanderlust and took a year off from school to spend time exploring Australia. Her list of travel escapades around the globe also include Ireland, England, Fiji, and France. In addition, she enjoys outdoor education and has participated in Outward Bound courses in both Australia and North Carolina.

In spite of her busy schedule at school and work, Susan still finds time to broaden her horizons in her personal life. Last year, she decided to test her stamina as a runner. After many months of training, she successfully completed her first marathon in New Orleans. In the upcoming spring, she plans to complete training to receive her pilot’s license. Once she officially becomes a pilot, Susan will be off and running after her next challenge.

There is no question that Susan has already learned one of the greatest lessons of all - an education is not limited to what one learns in the classroom; it also encompasses one’s life experiences. And with a goal of pursuing a career in higher education as a professor of English, Susan’s passion for living and learning will be one of the greatest gifts that she will pass along to her future students.