by Erin Donohue“[My role as professor is to] unsettle students, challenge and support them to take intellectual risks.”—Carl Mirra, Ph.D.
Carl Mirra, Ph.D., can’t imagine working in another profession or on another campus.
The professor in the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education and University College at Adelphi University was about 19 or 20 when he started trying to figure out what career path to choose. He decided to become a teacher and began a path in education that would take him to Hofstra and Columbia Universities for his undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees in history and education, then to student teaching at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan.
His first job interacting with students was as a counselor and home care manager for those with special needs at the Developmental Disabilities Institute. It was there also that he met his wife of 17 years, Eneida, an art teacher.
Dr. Mirra’s first teaching job was in social studies at Lawrence High School in the Five Towns area of Nassau County. But, wanting to do more, he began carving out a new path for himself in higher education, satisfying his desire to teach and publish his writing.
In 2001, he began as a part-time instructor at University College and then, in 2005, he came on board full time at the Ammon School of Education. He is now the director of childhood education and an associate professor of curriculum and instruction.
Dr. Mirra is inspired by the variety of students he teaches. He finds the adult learners in the University College program are as varied as possible, with diverse careers and experiences, but that ultimately “students are students.” He enjoys encouraging them to become critical thinkers, to trust their voices and to participate actively. He finds it important in his role as a professor to “unsettle students, challenge and support them to take intellectual risks.”
Dr. Mirra’s reach goes way beyond Adelphi; he regularly publishes work on subjects such as United States policies, warfare and history. A former United States Marine, who served during the first Gulf War, Dr. Mirra credits that experience as leading to his publication of Soldiers and Citizens: An Oral History of Operation Iraqi Freedom from the Battlefield to the Pentagon. He has recently written an article for the Cambridge Review of International Affairs entitled, “Insurgents, accidental guerrillas and valley-ism: an oral history of oppositional US soldiers’ attitudes toward the enemy in Afghanistan,” and he also wrote The Admirable Radical: Staughton Lynd and Cold War Dissent, 1945-1970.
Dr. Mirra has two more books to his credit and has authored countless articles. “People reach out to me,” he said, explaining the sources of his material. He looks forward to completing his dream project, a written piece on the famous American historian Howard Zinn.