Adrian College Trustee Greg Adams speaks at Opening Convocation

Posted Friday, September 08, 2023
Author: Mickey Alvarado

Adrian College’s opening convocation of the Dr. James Borland Convocation Series was held in Herrick Chapel on Wednesday, Sept. 6, with guest speaker Greg Adams, Ph.D., discussing “Critical Thinking in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (AI).”

Adams is a Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in its Cloud and Digital practice focused on the Salesforce platform. He also advises large clients undergoing digital transformation projects, specifically focusing on tech, media, telco, travel, and consumer products industries. In addition to his client work, he is the U.S. Salesforce practice go-to-market leader for the tech, media, and telco industry. Adams has been an Adrian College Trustee since 2016. He earned his BBA at Adrian College (‘93) and MBA from Eastern Michigan University.

Adrian College’s new faculty, newly promoted, and tenured faculty were recognized during the convocation, and teaching awards were presented.

This year’s Ross Newsom Award for Outstanding Teaching was presented to Dr. Bethany Shepherd. Shepherd joined Adrian College in 2011. Since then, her priority has been to help students succeed as writers and critical thinkers.

The Exemplary Teaching Excellence Award went to Dr. Christy Mesaros-Winckles, a professor in the Department of Communications Arts and Sciences. Mesaros-Winckles joined Adrian College in 2015. In addition to creating engaging curriculum and learning opportunities for her students, she has developing cutting-edge content and course offerings. This fall she is among the first professors to offer a course on AI and digital communications.

Adrian College’s Creative Activity, Research and Scholarship Award was created to honor and recognize significant contributions to a faculty member’s field of study. Dr. Jennifer Towns from the Department of Social Work is this year's recipient. She joined Adrian College in 2018. Towns has over 18 years working in the Social Work field, providing clinical treatment in many settings including: hospitals, community mental health departments and private practice. Her clinical work experience is founded upon an integrative approach and incorporates many treatment modalities including: EMDR, mind body/neurobiology components, ego states, and attachment work-all to treat complex interpersonal trauma.

Faculty promoted to the rank of full professor with tenure were Professors Donna Baker, Department of Accountancy, Business and Economics, Dr. Tom Muntean, Department of Geology, Dr. Bethany Shepherd, Department of Humanities, and Dr. Matt Zeckner, Department of Mathematics.

Faculty promoted to the rank of associate professor were Professors Michelle Hiscock, Department of Teacher Education, and Michele Stansley, Department of Teacher Education.

New faculty members included Dr. Peter Cha (Physics), Phil Clark (Performing Arts), Dr. Lukas Bell-Dereske (Biology), Kate Steele (Exercise Science and Athletic Training/TED), and Kelly Walker (Interior Design).

Adams was introduced after the awards and said he was honored to be the guest speaker and appreciated the opportunity.

“It seems like, just yesterday, I was sitting in this same chapel as a freshman, here at Adrian, with many of the same aspirations and, yes, probably a few fears that many of you are thinking about,” Adams said to the incoming students.

He spoke about the modern era, and how significant the introduction of AI has been and will become to everyone in the future.

“In just the last 25 years, we’ve gone from main frames to client server computing,” Adams said. “We have seen the introduction and the mass proliferation of the internet, which enabled cloud computing, which is now the foundation for something that’s getting a lot of discussion almost everywhere, which is artificial intelligence and the broad use of artificial intelligence. What has kept me interested in my career, is the sense that I’ve had an opportunity over the last thirty years to be part of truly changing the world. And, if that is maybe a little too grandiose, I will say I at least had an opportunity for a front row seat to a lot of these changes that are taking place.

“My theme for today, is Critical Thinking in the Age of AI, and we are at a time when some would argue that computers and technology can do all our thinking for us. I believe that the ability to question what we are being told and applying what we see around us to make up our own minds about our world has never been more important… AI will change the way we all learn, and even has some questioning if broad-based, or dare I say liberal arts education, is even necessary in the modern tech-driven world. And I’m here to tell you that I believe what you all have an opportunity to learn here at Adrian College is the ability to think critically about our world, which is more important than ever.”

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