Teacher Features

By on March 28, 2007

Professor Sean Duffy, Associate Professor of Political Science
by Michael Mcilmail

Standing face to face with an armed soldier was a frightening experience for Sean Duffy. He was studying at Trinity College in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1982. This was a time of great political unrest known as “The Troubles.” One day, while exiting a train in a Protestant town, Duffy encountered a British soldier guarding against terrorists.

“It was the scariest thing in my life,” Duffy said. “Then I realized, this guy was my age, only about 20 years old. He must’ve been terrified as well.”

Duffy, an associate professor of political science has been at Quinnipiac for nine years. In addition to teaching, he serves as faculty athletic representative.

Duffy studied political science at three of the most prestigious institutions in the country, earning his bachelor’s degree at Brown University, his master’s at Johns Hopkins and his doctorate at Yale.

Sitting upright in his office dressed in a blue button-down shirt and tie and with short cropped hair, Duffy displays a very professional appearance. It is evident as he reflects on his experiences that not only does he enjoy teaching political science, he is very much a student of it.

Reflecting on the time he was a student in Northern Ireland, Duffy said that as a teacher he “had to find a way to get back there.” In spring 2005, he fulfilled that wish when he accompanied the Quinnipiac theater program during spring break to Belfast.

Acting as a tour guide, Duffy escorted students to working-class neighborhoods in Belfast, exploring programs the government had implemented to create more jobs. Duffy explained to the group how economic growth had revitalized Northern Ireland and encouraged many former emigrants to return home.

That summer Duffy also taught a course in Tralee on the southwest coast of the Republic of Ireland. The course focused on examining the ethnic conflict between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland.

The three-week course was an intensive hands-on approach to studying the political progress that had been made in the region in the past decades. The class of five students met with Duffy four times a week and spent the fifth day traveling to different historical sites.

Duffy believes teaching that summer was a great learning lesson for him, as well as for the students.

“The students and I both learned a lot. Northern Ireland was a totally different country from when I was a student, and it almost made me nostalgic for when it was a poor country,” he said.

Duffy attempts to take the lessons he has learned from his experiences in Northern Ireland and apply them in the classroom. This experience has proven a valuable asset in helping students relate to the subject at hand.

Kristen McDonough, a senior double major in political science and public relations, has had Duffy as an instructor for several courses.

“Professor Duffy is one of the most insightful teachers I have ever had,” McDonough said. “He has a very unique ability to make students relate the topic being discussed to a level outside of the classroom.”

Professor Mahmood Monshipouri, who has been a professor in the Political Science Department for eight years, concurred with McDonough’s sentiments.

“I respect him for who he is and for all he brought to our community,” Monshipouri said. “His intellectual breadth and depth strike me as phenomenal.”

Professor William McLaughlin, Associate Professor of Communications
by Nicole Patti

Machine gun attacks. Bombings every week. Flying around the world with the secretary of state. Heading up a peace mission in Israel. All these are fond memories for William McLaughlin.

McLaughlin sits casually in his office chair with one leg crossed over the other and calmly relates some of his many adventures as a journalist. He is an associate professor of communications at Quinnipiac.

McLaughlin began his career as a freelancer in Europe, working for a think tank, where he was an expert on communism. When he was 26, he was offered jobs by both The Washington Post and CBS News. He chose CBS News because he knew nothing about television news. Along with this career choice came a plethora of experiences he would never forget.

McLaughlin spent a considerable amount of time covering the wars in Cambodia and Laos. He refers to Cambodia as being as beautiful as Laos, but also one of the most dangerous places he covered.

He reminisced, “I recall a few times sitting around the dinner area watching Cambodian soldiers eat the livers of enemies killed that afternoon. And these were the good guys. I came very close to being killed several times in Cambodia and eight of my closest friends were. Two others disappeared. Rumor had it they were crucified, but they may have been killed in a B-52 strike.”

While talking, McLaughlin often gesticulated to emphasize his point. He occasionally stared at his desk in a manner that made one wonder what crossed his mind as he was talking.

In Vietnam, he flew over combat zones about 300 times in Huey choppers. On his last ride a door gunner kept insisting that he put headphones on. McLaughlin resisted at first because he did not want to hear any more about the dangers below. When he finally succumbed he found out, to his surprise, that the entire crew was listening to an Aretha Franklin song. He said that he thinks they were tired of reality, too.

Another memorable experience for McLaughlin was flying around the world with Secretary of State George Schulz. He referred to it as the ultimate trip where cocktails and secrets were gently mixed. Then there was the time “I sprained my ankle at the Vatican and had to be carried out of St. Peter’s in a chair. The Pope blessed me, a bit late in the game.”

In 1993, McLaughlin’s friend John Wallach founded Seeds of Peace with the intention of bringing Arab and Israeli teenagers together and hoping that they would be the start of a movement of people who believed in peace. In 2002, McLaughlin took a one-year leave from teaching at Quinnipiac and became vice president of Seeds of Peace in Jerusalem. This was during the Second Intifada and, according to McLaughlin, the experience “was enriching for me. I’m no stranger to violence. Hearing guns and seeing bombs go off and seeing dead bodies has unfortunately become a part of the life I’ve led.”

John Gourlie, professor of mass communications at Quinnipiac, said of McLaughlin, “Whether he’s in the newsroom or in the classroom, he is above all an exceptionally decent man desiring to be of service to those who fall within the reach of his voice, of his writings, and of his broadcasts.”


About Michael Mcilmail and Nicole Pa