Professor Spotlight: Timothy Molchany


Photo courtesy of Timothy Molchany

Professor Timothy Molchany has been a part-time communications professor at Moravian College since the fall of 2018 and a full-time faculty member of the Northampton Community College (NCC) since 1999. Molchany received his AA in liberal studies from Hudson Valley Community College and his BA in communications and MA in organizational communications from the State University of New York.

What inspired you to go into your field of study? 

I decided to pursue a degree in communication because I am fascinated by the different ways people interact with one another in different contexts. Originally an English major, a trip to Ireland in the summer of 1998 was directly responsible for my transition to the study of communication. While in Ireland I found that while I spoke the same language as the locals it was often difficult to communicate effectively with locals as different meanings, different rules, and different life experiences sometimes made our interactions very challenging. I took my first communication class in the fall of 1988 and the rest is history.  It doesn’t hurt that a communication education is very flexible and can be of value in many careers. Communication is the one thing I can say for certain that we all do every day both intentionally and sometimes by accident.

What projects are you currently working on?

The primary focus of my work beyond teaching is exploring the effect of technology on developing relationships in both the personal and professional contexts. While communication has been studied in a scholarly manner for some time, the rapid development of new communication technology in the 21st century provides those of us in the field numerous opportunities to revisit well established theories and concepts through a new lens. The rise of communication technology and social media has changed, and will continue to change, everything we know about human interaction and various types of relationships.

What do you think is the most recent important development in your field of study?

The rise of communication technology/social media and how they are changing how we communicate, stay informed, build and maintain relationships, and view the world around us.

What job would you have if you couldn’t be a professor, regardless of salary and job outcome? Why?

If I wasn’t a teaching professor I would probably own and manage a food truck. I love cooking and feeding people so it’s a good fit for me. I also like the freedom of a business on wheels and how it allows the mobility to set up in different locations and develop multiple groups of dedicated customers. What kind of food? Pizza and grinders . . . or perhaps cookies. Everybody loves cookies!

What do you know now that you wished you knew when you were in college?

I wish I knew that life wasn’t always a straight line and success can be defined in many different ways. I have had many good days, along with my share of bad days, and each has helped make me the person I am today. Don’t be afraid of the detours and obstacles in your path to success – they are in fact opportunities.

What is your biggest student pet peeve?

Bogus excuses for not completing activities and assignments. We all must make choices in life and when we choose to put off what needs to be done, we need to own the decision and be honest about that decision. I appreciate it when students are honest with me and as a communication professor, and someone who recognizes the signs of deception, students need to know it’s not easy to pull the wool over my eyes. Be honest with me and I’ll be honest with you. As Mark Twain said, “Tell the truth and you don’t have to remember anything”.

Think about that. . . .

What was the last streaming show that you binge-watched or the last good book that you read?

I recently binge watched a British comedy show called “Friday Night Dinners.” It’s a silly comedy about a family where the two adult sons join their mom and dad for dinner every Friday night where nothing ever goes as planned. The last book I read for pleasure was “Bums – An Oral History of the Brooklyn Dodgers.” Yes – I am a huge baseball fan and worked behind the scenes in the Yankees Minor League system from 1988 until 1991.

What is something interesting about you that most people don’t know?

In 1994 I was a Program Coordinator for the Bennington Rutland Opportunity Council, a community action agency in Vermont. I was responsible for the School Breakfast Expansion Program. My responsibility was to help public schools in the four counties of Southern Vermont to establish federally subsidized breakfast programs for their students. Near the completion of the program I was recognized for helping 11 schools in the region start a new program at a reception held at Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury, Vermont. At this reception I met Ben and Jerry along with Vermont Governor Howard Dean, Vermont Senators Jim Jeffords and Pat Leahy, and then Vermont Congressman and current Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. This day was one of the highlights of my life. . . plus I ate mass quantities of ice cream. 

What animal do you relate to the most and why?

I’m offering a very specific example for this question: my cat Kikuchyo. Kikuchyo (named after Toshiro Mifune’s character in “The Seven Samurai” – my favorite film) showed up in my backyard in July of 2015 and I have worked diligently to domesticate him since with limited success. He stays in the house when it is very cold or very hot but otherwise will not abandon his vagabond ways. I can relate to his resisting my efforts to domesticate him as I like my freedom and don’t appreciate being constrained in any way. Needless to say, the last year or so hasn’t been easy for me (or any of us) but it has given me more time to work my magic on Kikuchyo. He’s lying near me right now watching as I respond to these questions!

Professor Molchany’s cat, Kikuchyo. Photo courtesy of Timothy Molchany
Professor Molchany’s cat, Kikuchyo. Photo courtesy of Timothy Molchany

If you could have dinner with two people dead or alive who would you choose and why? 

At last an easy question: my mother Antoinette and my father Stephen. My father died suddenly in the summer of 1997 and my mother succumbed to cancer in the fall of 2007. I would like to let them know I have survived and thrived in difficult times, that their grandchildren are happy, healthy, and intelligent, and most importantly to tell them I love them and miss them very much.