Corey Olsen - President
In his teaching website, The Tolkien Professor, Professor Olsen brings his scholarship on Tolkien to the public, seeking to engage a wide and diverse audience in serious intellectual and literary conversation. His website features a series of detailed lectures on The Hobbit, and recordings of the weekly meetings of the Silmarillion Seminar, which has been working its way through the Silmarillion chapter by chapter, as well as more informal Q&A sessions with listeners. His book, entitled Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, was published by Houghton Mifflin in September 2012.
Corey Olsen taught in the English Department at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, where he began teaching in the Fall of 2004. His undergraduate and graduate teaching subjects included J.R.R. Tolkien, Arthurian literature, Chaucer, and Sir Thomas Malory. He got his BA in English and Astrophysics from Williams College in Massachusetts and his PhD in medieval literature from Columbia University. At Washington College, Professor Olsen had served as the Faculty Coordinator of Academic Integrity, the Faculty Advisor for Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society, and Master of the Revels at Washington College’s hotly contested annual Wheelbarrow Jousting Tournament.
Nick Smerker - Director of Operations
If you interact with it at the Institute, Nick is almost assuredly involved in its care and feeding. He is responsible for selecting, configuring and maintaining crucial day-to-day tools from the website to the learn.signumuniversity.org Moodle installation to the online course registration systems and even the Amazon booklists. His greatest joy is turning cold technologies into the means for achieving very human goals.
Since October 2010, Nick has worked for Education Technology Services at Penn State University as a traveling multimedia consultant. His work takes him to the innovative Media Commons spaces located at Commonwealth Campuses throughout western Pennsylvania where he works with faculty and students as they engage with digital media tools. Previously, Nick was employed as an Instructional Technologist at Washington College (where he met Dr. Olsen). There he worked on integrating emerging technologies such as iTunes U, social networking, iPads and blogging into the classroom experience.
Nick’s foundations for being an effective technologist and project organizer were built during his (first) tenure at Penn State. As a student, he turned his self-created degree in Integrative Arts into the beginnings of his current career in educational technology, getting his start in the same department as he works today.