Professor Molly Welch Deal wants to make you dangerous. As a senior psychology lecturer at the University of Wisconsin–Stout, she has been encouraging students to challenge themselves and the world they live in for ten years.
“I’m going to teach you how to question human behavior,” says Welch Deal, who has spent most of her professional career studying human nature. That may be why she stands in such high regard among her students. In fact, according to ratemyprofessors.com, she is the highest rated professor at Stout—5.0 with 66 ratings. Few who attend her classes have complaints about her open, engaging teaching style. “One of my primary goals is to lower anxiety so true learning can occur,” she says.
For her, applicability of knowledge is key: “Some psychology professors teach you about the body and the brain; I want to teach you about your body and your brain.” This is a driving principle behind her efforts to “teach you enough to make you dangerous.” Knowing more about yourself and humankind not only introduces you to the ever-deepening rabbit hole of psychological knowledge, it also makes you dangerous to those who seek to perpetuate ignorance, injustice and misunderstanding.
Although she may be one of the most highly esteemed educators on campus, Welch Deal is as down-to-earth as they come. “Every experience I have, whether it’s going into a class or meeting with a student, I know I’m going to learn a lot,” she says. Few individuals, let alone university professors, share her honesty and zeal for education. “We’re all learning together,” she states earnestly.
Her choice to perceive every experience as an opportunity for education lends itself well to her dynamic lifestyle. Mother of two, she occasionally brings her kids to campus, seizing every available opportunity to show them what college is like firsthand. Besides teaching, she also works as a mental health counselor.
We could all learn a thing or two from professor Welch Deal. Speaking with her is like talking to an old friend. Students she had a decade ago still keep in touch. Her genuine care and consideration are perhaps the most valuable lessons she has to offer. Rarely is a person with such knowledge so receptive and kind. “The more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know very much at all,” she says.