Although many professors decide to retire, Dr. Gabriel Batarseh, an adjunct professor at Francis Marion University’s (FMU) psychology department, has decided to continue teaching at the age of 81 years old.
Batarseh’s passion for teaching began from being around young people. He said that although it is a challenge, it is also fun to be a part of educating students. This passion still continues after the age of retirement, when he chose to continue teaching at FMU. Batarseh has been teaching part-time at FMU since 1995 when FMU was Francis Marion College. He currently teaches courses in Psychological Development and supervises the Senior Internship program in the Psychology Department at FMU.
“Continuing in my career keeps me comfortable.” Batarseh said. “That is what keeps me alive and interested in things. I enjoy doing it.”
Batarseh’s relationship with FMU began when he worked as the Director of the Pee Dee Regional Center in the Florence area. This center provides services in South Carolina from Lancaster to Georgetown counties under the South Carolina State Department of Disabilities and Special Needs. Batarseh said that he worked with the Psychology Department at FMU for various needs including providing internship opportunities for the students.
After numerous years of working in conjunction with the FMU Psychology Department, Batarseh was asked to teach as an adjunct professor in addition to working for the Pee Dee Regional Center. Batarseh agreed and has been with FMU ever since.
Batarseh explained how he was one of the professors that played a key role in helping FMU establish its first Psychology Masters Program. He saw a need within the Pee Dee area for careers requiring this degree. Batarseh then went to the administrators of the department, explaining the importance of the program. Later he traveled to Columbia with FMU representatives to request permission for this program from the legislature. The request was approved, allowing FMU to have its first Psychology Master’s Program.
Batarseh received his undergraduate degree from Middle East University in Beirut, Lebanon. He then taught English and Religion in Palestine until he decided to move to the United States. Afterwards, he earned both his master’s degree and his doctoral degree from University of South Carolina (USC) with a doctorate in Psychologist Services and Education.
Before moving to Florence, Batarseh worked for the Charleston Developmentally Disabled program, part of the South Carolina State Department of Disabilities and Special Needs
Batarseh explained how children are different than adults and emphasized, the tactics and ways to ensure that children are raised in a beneficial way. In order to fully mature, Batarseh said that it is crucial for children to be properly socially, physically, and mentally developed.
“I focus on teaching others the ways to ensure children become mature,”Batarseh said. “It is up to us to make sure that this happens.”
In addition to teaching, Batarseh said he works out and keeps up with the news during his free time to maintain his health. He especially focuses on the news in his native country of Palestine, Syria and Egypt where his relatives live.