Criminal Justice Department Chair is Plymouth native
PLYMOUTH — It’s class time for Professor Mark Fischler’s Criminal Justice course: Society, Ethics, and the Law. Fischler looks at his watch, strides to the door, locks it and asks that all cell phones be placed in silent mode and hats removed. The message is simple: be on time and be ready to learn.
It’s an old-school approach in a 21st Century classroom, but Fischler is anything but a stern authoritarian. He wants his students’ full attention, because he’s giving his full attention to them. It’s a style that makes him one of PSU’s most respected and effective teachers and the recipient of Plymouth State University’s 2014 Distinguished Teacher Award.
“It feels good to know my students and colleagues feel positive about what I authentically put forth in the classroom,” Fischler said. “I demand a lot of my students but I also give them my best. I just consider it the greatest privilege to invite their growth.”
PSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Julie Bernier, 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 a 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 research focuses on Integral Theory and the practice and interpretation of the law. He has numerous publications and has presented nationally and internationally on legal issues.
A Plymouth native, Fischler has strong roots in the community; his father, Michael, is a faculty member at PSU, and Mark grew up immersed in the collegial atmosphere of the town and institution. He attended Plymouth Regional High School, where he excelled as a student and athlete, garnering All State honors in Baseball and Honorable Mention All State in football.
After graduating from University of New Hampshire 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.
“I have a lot of history here. People I’ve known my whole life have worked here, so I consider it a real privilege to be in the classroom,” said Fischler. “Teaching comes first here. Relationships matter. There’s an appreciation from everybody who works here – from the folks who work the cash register for Sodexo 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.”
Fischler credits a wide range of mentors who have helped guide his career path as an educator, starting with his father, Michael, Plymouth Regional High football coach Chuck Lenahan, former PSU Provost and current Commissioner of Education Ginny Barry, UNH Professor John Kayser, former PSU Criminal Justice Professor David Kent, and philosopher Ken Wilber. As surprised and happy as he was to win the Distinguished Teaching Award, Fischler says it really is a tribute to his background.
“It’s a nice moment for PSU to have one of the kids that’s been raised in the community receive this award,” noted Fischler. “It’s a good moment for the town of Plymouth and the University itself. I’m happy to be born and raised here and to win an award here.”