Among a growing number of alumni making their way in the world, Michael Collender (’99) may be among the most interesting.
Collender completed his B.A. degree in Liberal Arts & Culture at New Saint Andrews in just three years. Next he knocked out the two-year M.A. in Philosophy of Religion at Liberty University in just one year. He earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, while teaching literature and rhetoric classes at a classical Christian school, and he fulfilled all requirements for his doctoral program in the shortest time permitted by the university’s regulations. And if he didn’t have enough stickers on his suitcase, his doctoral research took him to Belgium’s Catholic University of Leuven.
“Wicked,” or complex, problems was the topic of his doctoral work – problems with no specific solution – particularly in modeling complex systems in the fields of neuroscience and economics. An early version of his dissertation found its way to the National Defense University’s Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, VA, where he was invited to continue his research and lecture on how Joint Task Force commanders can manage complex systems within complex environments on the battlefield. His research and instructional materials were published by the Joint Forces Staff College, and the School of Advanced Military Studies has listed them as recommended reading for military planners.
Dr. Collender teaches at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. For Gonzaga’s MA Program in Organizational Leadership, he teaches how to solve complex problems in organizations. He’s taught classes in ethics, philosophy, and human nature in Gonzaga’s Philosophy and Leadership Studies Departments. He also teaches rhetoric, psychology, and economics for Veritas Press Scholars Academy, an online school. Outside the classroom he’s produced the cultural journalSt. Anne’s Public House and wrote the book To End all Suffering: A Christian Analysis of the Buddha’s Teaching. Recently he also turned his creative energies to filmmaking and in 2011 sold a screenplay about the 2008 financial crisis titled Red September.
Collender credits the personal mentoring of faculty and his studies at New Saint Andrews for his ability to integrate so many varied interests and have a finger in so many disciplines. “I learned to access different fields from the same core. The core being the unity of the Christian philosophy of life that integrates beauty, truth and goodness. No field I’m examining is foreign.”
Dr. Collender and his wife Jennifer (Hulbert), class of 2000, reside in Spokane, WA, with their three children.