By Tripp Wickard
Philip Unger began his journey at Reinhardt University in 2002 on a one-year appointment in the history department while he worked towards his graduate degree in the history of technology and society.
“I was very excited for the opportunity. Little did I think that 17 years later I would still be happy to be a member of the Reinhardt faculty, only in a very different role,” said Unger.
Following his year as a history professor, Unger shifted to helping students as a full-time faculty member in the Academic Support Office. In this role, Unger was able to utilize his master’s degree in special education and later served as the program’s interim director for a year and a half.
When Reinhardt University began offering online degree programs in 2012, Reinhardt’s leadership asked Unger to develop a program in healthcare administration based on his 20 years of experience in the field.
“I am fortunate to have a number of skilled adjunct faculty teaching courses in health information systems, quality assurance and patient safety, healthcare regulations, organizational behavior, human resource management and the financing of the healthcare system,” said Unger.
Unger now serves as academic coordinator of the Bachelor of Healthcare Administration program. The program is geared toward nontraditional students, and Unger works to ensure they receive instruction that builds on their established skillset. As someone who returned to school in his fifties, Unger understands the position of nontraditional students.
“These students present challenges distinct from those of the main campus ‘traditional’ students in that they have to balance their studies with work and family obligations,” said Unger. “They also have strong opinions about certain issues and look to measure course content against their own experiences. As a result, professors have to find ways to build on what such adult students bring to the educational experience while also challenging them to expand their vision and understanding.”
Unger’s favorite course to teach is the introductory course for newly admitted students. Knowing his students already hold a relationship with their field of study and due to the constant shifts in medicine, Unger must continually adapt and change his curriculum to ensure students will be prepared for their future occupations.
“I have to constantly change the instructional materials because the system is constantly in flux. Obviously, the greatest reward for teaching in such a program is seeing students apply what they learn in their professional roles and either advance or begin their careers as healthcare administrators.”
Throughout his time at Reinhardt, Unger has served on the University’s faculty governance system.
“One of the things I have most enjoyed about being at Reinhardt is the opportunity for personal change in response to a variety of challenges.”
Aside from managing online programs, Unger enjoys cooking, attending live music events, and relaxing with family and friends on the lake in Hiawassee, Georgia.