By DAN SEUFERT
Union Leader Correspondent
PLYMOUTH — He grew up a “faculty brat” as the son of a Plymouth State professor, and became a star athlete on several Plymouth High School teams.
Now, he’s being honored as the university’s most outstanding teacher.
Mark Fischler, 43, the chairman of Plymouth State University’s Criminal Justice program, is being honored with the university’s 2014 Distinguished Teacher Award.
“I’m honored, and very humbled,” said Fischler, a UNH graduate who is in his 10th year at PSU.
“It’s a privilege to be able to teach in the area where I grew up, and it’s a testament to the good teachers I had along the way at Plymouth High,” he said.
Dr. Julie Bernier, PSU provost and vice president for academic affairs, said Fischler’s commitment to excellence in teaching has earned him the respect of students, staff and faculty.
“Mark is a truly gifted teacher and a kind and generous human being,” Bernier said. “Mark was recognized because his students and colleagues felt so strongly that he deserved this honor. I quite agree.”
Fischler’s father, Michael Fischler, is the director of PSU’s Counseling and Human Relations Center, and is a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, Learning, and Curriculum.
Mark Fischler grew up among educators, and then became one himself.
“I think it’s a privilege to be able to raise the level of consciousness of the future leaders of the world,” he said.
But he credits his former head football coach at Plymouth High School, Chuck Lenahan, and his former baseball coach at Plymouth, Tom Underwood, with giving him leadership skills needed to be a good professor.
“Both of them taught me a lot about how to lead a group, and how to play as a team member, as did all of my teachers at Plymouth High School. That had a lot to do with who I am now,” he said.
After graduating from UNH with a degree in political science, he earned a law degree from the University of Maine and worked as a defense attorney before starting at Plymouth State in 2003 in the Criminal Justice department, eventually becoming the department chair in 2011.
Fischler’s classes focus on “Integral Theory” and the practice and interpretation of the law. He has many publications and has presented nationally and internationally on legal issues.
“Teaching comes first (at PSU). Relationships matter,” he said. “There’s an appreciation from everybody who works here — from the folks who work the cash register for Sodexo (at the university’s dining facility) to the custodians that clean the buildings to the president of the university. They’re all on the same page, trying to make the students’ experience a meaningful one.”