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Married professors work together

Molly Madden | Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Many members of the Notre Dame community believe there is a “ring by spring” sentiment that pervades campus and the students. But what many people might not realize is that there is something in the air for many members of the Notre Dame faculty as well.

Notre Dame’s faculty features several individuals who are not only professional colleagues, but also husband and wife.

Some of these Domer duos came to teach at Notre Dame together, while others spent time at separate institutions or careers before becoming the second member from their family to receive a faculty position at the University.

Professors Joshua Diehl and Kristin Valentino both teach in the Department of Psychology at the University. The couple, who have been married “5 years, 1 month and 27 days” both received positions at Notre Dame last year.

“During our postdoctoral fellowship at Yale, we both went job hunting as a ‘package Diehl,'” Diehl said. “Notre Dame was the best opportunity for both of us because of its fantastic psychology department, top notch students, and the mission of the University fits well with both of our programs of research.”

Other professor-couples struggled with trying to find an academic position at the same university, or even in the same time zone.

Professor Annie Coleman of the Department of American Studies, who is married to Professor Jon Coleman of the Department of History, said before she found a position at Notre Dame last year, balancing her own career with her husband’s was difficult.

“Jon got a position here at Notre Dame in 2004 when I was coming up for tenure at IUPUI [Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis],” she said. “I drove down to Indianapolis for four or five years and was gone two nights a week to keep on the tenure track.”

Jon and Annie said it was especially difficult because their children were 1 and 4 years old when the family moved to South Bend.

“It strengthened our relationship in a lot of ways,” Coleman said. “But I couldn’t have kept doing it forever, but it worked out really well in the end because I love working in the Department of American Studies here.”

Other professor couples have found different ways to pursue their professional academic life while remaining on campus with their spouse.

Professor Kevin Vaughan of the Department of Biology was recruited to teach at the University in 1998, but his wife, fellow biologist Patricia Vaughan, took a different route within the University.

“I chose not to pursue a tenure track because of our children,” she said. “I’m research faculty so I work in my husband’s research lab, but I’ve also taught since 2005.”

The two remain in close proximity and see each other throughout the day.

“Our offices are right next door to each other and we usually have lunch together,” she said.

Other faculty couples do not see each other often due to different fields of study.

Ramzi Bualuan, a professor of Computer Science and Engineering, has been at the University since 1990. His wife, professor Ghada Bualuan, whom he married in 2001, received a job in the Department of Classics in 2006.

“We surprisingly don’t see each other that much,” Ramzi said. “Our schedules don’t coincide but that’s intentional so that we can better manage our children’s schedules.”

Ghada said working at the same University, albeit in different fields, does have its advantages.

“It does make it easier working in the same place,” she said. “We share almost similar backgrounds, talents and aspirations.”

While the Bualuans may not run into any professional disagreements because of their different subjects, Diehl and Valentino have found ways to make their shared professional interests into an intellectual competition involving their students.

“We have a lab rivalry,” Valentino said. “At the end of each semester our labs engage in a competition for a trophy. Currently, Professor Diehl’s FUN Lab has the hardware.”

Diehl and Valentino have also found a unique way for informing unaware students that the two professors are married.

“We both tend to use clips of our son to highlight examples in class,” Diehl said. “It’s always kind of funny when students realize that we must be married based on the fact that we have the same adorable child.”