Leading the Charge

At heart, Assistant Professor Ryan Hersha is an advocate. The seeds for this passion may have been sown by a community college professor who convinced Professor Hersha he had more potential than he thought.

“I became a better student because of her,” said Assistant Professor Hersha. “I got into a great school because of her, and I picked this profession because of her influence. My experiences at the community college confirmed that I wanted to be a community college instructor.”

Assistant Professor Hersha did take a quick detour into politics though. In previous positions, he helped change a law that unfairly protected pharmaceutical companies and also convinced a city council to install tornado sirens so that all residents would know when they were in danger.

Although his title has changed, Assistant Professor Hersha continues to tap his persuasion skills, this time for the benefit of Corning Community College faculty and students. He leads the charge in an ongoing project to transition from traditional, pricey textbooks to open source textbooks. In two of Professor Hersha’s classes, students use publicly available educational resources, which means the content can be distributed for free reuse and adaptation. With the help of a College-sponsored sustainability incentive grant, he is developing partnerships and procedures to more fully implement the approach on campus.

Referencing one of the texts he’s using, Assistant Professor Hersha said, “This textbook cost students $19, which covers the printing. The traditional book would have cost around $130. Also, I can edit and improve the text with student input so that it is completely relevant for students at CCC.”

When he’s not facing challenges from tornados and textbook companies, Assistant Professor Hersha enjoys a good cooking adventure. “People think because I don’t eat meat that I only eat twigs,” said Professor Hersha, who said that cooking is a great distraction and therapeutic. “I make a mean Kala Chola.”