I recently had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Dr. Michael Falcetta, one of the chemistry professors here at Grove City College. After obtaining his bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York (Oswego), Dr. Falcetta traveled to the University of Pittsburgh where he completed his graduate and post-doctoral work. While there, he worked to build an electron-scattering instrument during his time as a post-doctoral researcher. He then took a few years off and worked at a church in the City of Pittsburgh as a youth pastor before deciding to attend seminary. Although he did not complete his seminary degree, this experience was one that has stayed with Dr. Falcetta throughout his career and impacts the way he relates to those around him. Before coming to Grove City, Dr. Falcetta worked at Anderson University and Roberts Wesleyan University. Although he had never heard of Grove City, he applied for a chemistry position here and has been a faculty member since. He now resides in the Grove City area with his wife and his daughter who is a student here.
One of the things that came up most frequently in my interview with Dr. Falcetta was how much he values his relationship with students. He told me that he “love[s] being with students, and teaching, and doing research,” and that if “they changed the character of the students…. I would really consider leaving.” He enjoys working with those of us who are “grappling with the big questions,” and he strives to do his best to get to know students outside the classroom and pursue relationships with them. “I love equipping people to do their own thing well…I really like to develop their skills, their independence, I want them to become thinkers.” He does his best to stay in touch with students after they graduate and continues to help people through the tough questions they face after college.
Dr. Falcetta was quick to highlight the relational aspect that is a part of a chemistry degree here at Grove City. Students are able to relate to each other, as well as professors, in an environment that is not overly competitive like many schools. He also mentioned the plethora of resources available at a school this size, and the success of the students that graduate from here. Research at Grove City was something he emphasized, especially the large amount of opportunities that are available to students. His main research on campus is in collaboration with a physics and engineering professor, Dr. Mark Fair. For the past 10 years, they have been doing computational research to model molecules and find out what happens when electrons are added to molecules.
While not in the classroom, Dr. Falcetta is very involved in the lives of different students on campus. Not only is he the faculty advisor for a housing group on campus, he and his wife lead a small group of students that they host in their home. He also works with students in the summers to do research work at the College. I was also surprised to learn he has an affinity for languages, and he is currently teaching himself Welsh. It is very evident his experience in seminary and working with youth still impacts his life. Although he does love working with college students, he did mention that he would love to work with young men who are not college bound and help them pursue opportunities that will help them build careers not based on college education. Even in my short interview with him, I could tell that he has a passion for the students he works with day in and day out. The work done by Dr. Falcetta at Grove City is highly praised by all who interact with him, and it is very evident this praise is justified and well deserved.