June 11, 2013
Mount Saint Mary College professors on sabbatical
take on a variety of academic adventures, both at home and abroad,
to brush up the knowledge they share with students.
Stanley Pycior (left), a longtime Mount history professor, spent
weeks poring over the League of Nations archives in Geneva,
Switzerland. It was the experience of a lifetime for the dedicated
“While working in the archives, I took a self-portrait and
noticed the painting of [United States President] Woodrow Wilson
behind me,” Pycior noted, realizing, “He was looking over my
shoulder as I reviewed League records.”
In 1918, Wilson, hoping to avoid the bloodshed of another World
War, outlined 14 points for world peace. The League of Nations,
formed in 1920, was based on Wilson’s ideas, including his final
point: “A general association of nations must be formed under
specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees
of political independence and territorial integrity to great and
small states alike.” The organization was a forerunner to the
Ironically, America did not join the League, leaving Wilson
Back in the United States, education professor Frances
Spielhagen spent her sabbatical as a visiting scholar in residence
at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. She crafted
a longitudinal study involving her former high school students, now
approximately 30 years old.
“When I was their teacher, I involved them in problem-based
service learning activities that resulted in significant community
problem solving,” she explained. “I have been interviewing these
young people to determine the possible effects of their involvement
in my classes and this specific project on their lives as young
adults, their civic engagement, and their attitudes toward
As adults, all of the former students perform regular community
“They attest to the importance of the
service learning activities they did in my classes,” said
Spielhagen (pictured at right looking over the shoulder of a Thomas
Jefferson statue, in the Colonial Williamsburg restoration).
Spielhagen also conducted a seminar for doctoral students at
William and Mary, detailing content analysis of qualitative
interviews; and presented her emerging research on the longitudinal
effects of service learning at the annual meeting of the American
Educational Research Association in San Francisco, Calif. She spoke
on various topics at the University of Muenster in Germany, and at
the Association for Middle Level Education in Portland, Ore.
During her research, the writing bug bit Spielhagen. She revised
and enhanced her book, “Debating Single Sex Education,” to be
published in July 2013, and served as editor-in-chief of Middle
Grades Research Journal.
She also co-edited a book based on three of the Mount’s Center
for Adolescent Research and Development conferences, along with
psychology professor Paul Schwartz. The book, titled “Adolescence
in the 21st Century: Constants and Challenges,” and containing
chapters written by several Mount scholars, will be published this
“I have been grateful for this sabbatical as a time of study and
research,” noted Spielhagen. “It will inform my practice as a
Sociology professor Margaret Bussigel stayed close to home
during her sabbatical, engaged in research.
In addition to developing an honors
component to the introduction to sociology course at Mount Saint
Mary College, Bussigel completed an analysis of Medicaid data over
the last five years, and surveys of providers and homeless clients.
The project was funded by the Department of Social Services on
homelessness in Orange County, NY.
She also designed a new program for adolescents who have been
classified as persons in need of supervision. The research,
continuing over the next three years, will evaluate the
effectiveness of nine specific programs in eliminating recidivism
and maintaining adolescents in their family home.
“The research will involve collecting data from the agencies
serving the adolescents, as well as surveys of the adolescents at
entry and exit from the programs, and interviews with a sample of
their families,” explained Bussigel (left).
Finally, she researched family justice centers across the United
States for the purpose of identifying the range of goals they have,
and determining the extent to which these centers represent a
consistent and innovative approach to the problem of domestic
Religious studies professor Sr. Peggy
Murphy, O.P., said of her sabbatical, “The gift of time has been
(Right) Sr. Peggy Murphy, O.P., sings at an early monastery in
Glendalough, Ireland. It was founded by St. Kevin and is one of the
first Christian sites in Ireland.
Sr. Murphy headed to Ireland’s Glendalough retreat house, one of
the earliest foundations of Christianity in country, where she
increased her already expansive knowledge of the faith. Glendalough
was founded by St. Kevin., patron of animals.
She also submitted an application and proposal to the National
Catholic Center for Holocaust Education of Seton Hill University,
and received a scholarship for the 2013 Summer Institute in Israel
sponsored by Seton Hill, Yad Vashem’s International School for
Holocaust Studies, and Hebrew University’s Vidal Sassoon
International Center for the Study of Antisemitism. The National
Catholic Center focuses on historical dimensions and moral and
philosophical issues raised, in response to the call of Pope John
Paul II to promote the necessary historical and religious studies
on the event which concerns the whole of humanity today.
“There will be educators from across U.S.,” she said, “so I'm
very excited for that.”