Together for Good
Skip to main content area Skip to main navigation Skip to institutional navigation Skip to footer

Honors Program

Previous Last Lecture Speakers

The Last Lecture series has been a tradition at Merrimack since 1999. In 2013 the Honors Program resurrected the tradition. See below for information regarding previous Last Lectures at Merrimack.



2016- Laura Hsu

Associate Professor
Department of Human Development


Professor Laura Hsu has held positions in a variety of educational settings, including as a tutor in Americorps, afterschool settings, and a medium security prison; as a consultant for an inner city charter school; as an English teacher for elementary students in China; as an assistant professor of psychology at a community college; and now as an assistant professor of human development at Merrimack College where she has taught since 2012.  At Merrimack, Professor Hsu has taught undergraduate courses in Child & Adolescent Development, Introduction to Human Development, and Diversity & Social Justice, and has taught graduate level courses in Theories of Adult Development, and College Teaching & Learning.  Professor Hsu received her Ed.D. in Human Development and Psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and her B.A. in Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley.

Professor Hsu’s research focuses on how social environments and interpersonal relationships shape people’s identities and affect their mental and physical well-being.  Her first line of research examines how various attachment figures influence the way young adults perceive themselves and how those self-perceptions are integrated into a coherent identity.  Her second line of research investigates how environmental cues that signal aging can affect the physical condition  and cognitive functioning of people in measurable ways, and how reframing thoughts about aging can ultimately improve people’s mental and physical health.    

2015- Christina Hardway

Associate Professor
Department of Psychology


The recipient of the 31st annual Edward G. Roddy Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award, Professor Hardway believes that the classroom should be an environment that promotes student success, even though she herself may seem to pose a barrier as an authority who distributes grades. As a developmental psychologist, she is able to make sense of the circumstances that cause us to grow and change. “My work as a researcher has led me to believe that learning is most enduring when students actively engage new material and find ways to make it relevant to their own lives,” says Hardway. She believes it is vital to work closely with students in order to understand their points of view and to provide guidance that allows them to achieve their full potential. Professor Hardway reflects back on her life and experiences with gratitude, as she appreciates the events and experiences that have helped her grow and succeed, and she wants the same for her students. While Professor Hardway believes that a good teacher establishes the overall structure and guidelines necessary for a student to learn, it is the students who must fill in the gaps and build their own understanding—for that is when students learn, acquire, and are able to use this new knowledge.

Hardway began teaching at Merrimack in 2007 after completing a Post-Doctoral Fellow position at Harvard Graduate School of Education. She earned a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from the University of Chicago. She currently is working on  research projects examining the the origins and treatment of anxiety as well as ways to promote intellectual engagement, and she has published over a dozen articles in journals and books.  Additionally, she was Merrimack College Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning Faculty Fellow, and she serves on several committees including the First Year Experience Committee and the O’Brien Center for Student Success Faculty Advisory Board. 

2014 - Dr. Vance Poteat

Associate Professor
Department of Computer Science


Vance Poteat was named the Edward G. Roddy, Jr. Outstanding
Teacher of the Year, a recognition given to him at Merrimack’s 64th
Commencement Exercises.  He was the 30th recipient of this
distinguished award, the first being in 1985 presented to Dr. Edward G. Roddy, Jr., professor of history. He teaches Computer Science in the School of Science and Engineering at Merrimack. 

Poteat began teaching at Merrimack in 2001 after a 20-year career at Bell Telephone Laboratories as a technical manager, where he designed and managed products that range from analog and digital corded, cordless, and video telephones, to digital cable television set top boxes, Sonet/SDH multiplexers, and circuit switches. He earned a M.S. in computer science from Rutgers University and a bachelors in electrical engineering technology from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  He holds two patents and has published over 40 articles in journals and magazines.



2013 - Dr. Marcia Walsh

Associate Professor
Department of Health Sciences

Dr. Walsh received her Bachelors of Science in Biology from Stonehill College and her Ph.D. in Biological Science from University of Rhode Island. She was a post-doctoral fellow at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute where she did research on the  mitochondria of normal and cancer cells. Her primary research pertains surveillance of antibiotic resistant bacteria in our environment, and analysis of water quality in the Merrimack River. She has been with Merrimack College since 1980. Dr. Walsh is also an avid swimmer. Click here for more information about Dr. Walsh

2011- Dr. Cynthia McGowan

Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
Professor of Chemistry 


2010 - Dr. Patricia Sendall

Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
Professor of Management