Random Sample

  • Hometown: "I was born in Brooklyn. As my mother tells the story, almost on the Brooklyn Bridge during the New Year's Eve blizzard of 1947."

  • Member since: 1977. Fellow since 1990.

  • Occupation: Professor of psychology and co-founder of the department of integrative studies at Arizona State University West. The department blends two to three interdisciplinary aspects in each course, such as psychology, literary theory, applied ethics, religion and ethnic studies. In 2003, the Carnegie Foundation selected him as Arizona Professor of the Year.

  • Family ties: "I went to my high school senior prom with [the woman who would become] my wife, Patricia. We grew up together." He is the proud father of three grown children, daughters Maureen and Beth, and son Matthew, and has one granddaughter. In a gender-role reversal, Patricia owns all the power tools and manages the money. He does the laundry and cooks: Italian is his specialty.

  • Unexpected detour: Ten years ago, while teaching a National Science Foundation-sponsored community college workshop on multicultural pedagogy, he felt his legs weaken and begin to tingle. Within two days he was paralyzed, stricken with Guillain-Barr syndrome. McGovern's legs, arms and face were paralyzed and his colon shut down. He was told he would never walk again. But with an aggressive rehabilitation plan he beat his diagnosis and returned to work a year later. He is able to walk again, although he still deals with pain and chronic fatigue daily.

  • Passion: Golf. "My first time playing after I was paralyzed I had a hole in one."

  • What he learned from being sick: To have more empathy for students who have been out of school for a while and then decide to go back. "It gave me a sense of how difficult it is to walk into a classroom having to start from scratch." McGovern also discovered that he had tremendous support from his academic community. "There was not a day that went by that I didn't get a call or a note to check in on me."

  • Where he'll be in five years: Retired, living wherever his grandchild is and writing books. "My wife and I plan to go full circle and end up back by the water."

-D. Schwartz

Each month, "Random Sample" introduces you to a randomly chosen APA member. You might be next.

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