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Robert Eyler

Dr. Robert Eyler

Professor of Economics

What I teach

Classes focused on macroeconomics 

How long have you been at SSU?

Since fall 1995.

Last book you’ve read?

“American Prometheus” (the book that is the basis of movie “Oppenheimer”)

Favorite TV or streaming show/podcast/movie?

“The Godfather,” for 100 reasons that hold for millions of other people as well.

Favorite band/type of music?

I tend to listen to the genre called “Yacht Rock,” which reminds me of being a kid and also makes for mellow listening against the chaos of life.

Why did you choose your field?

Economics (to me) is an amalgam of physics, accounting, and history, three subjects with which I always seemed to connect when I was 18. I took a class in basic macroeconomics as a college freshman, saw that blend, and decided pursuing economics was for me.

A memorable moment with students?

The first cohort of the Executive MBA program went to China and Vietnam as an international business experience. The group was amazing, and the experience was the beginning of many great things for the program. I felt like we had achieved something by getting those students to see the Great Wall of China.

Why SSU is a good place for you

My family is from Sonoma and Marin counties, so I am close to home. The university has provided me with opportunities to study what I want and how I want and has been very supportive – from department colleagues all the way to the president’s office. I have a lot of respect and owe a large debt of gratitude to past and present colleagues and administrators. 

David McCuan

Dr. David McCuan 

Professor, Political Science

What I teach

American Politics (Elections) and International Relations (Political Violence & Terrorism) 

How long have you been at SSU? 

I am an alum of SSU! 

I have been at SSU since Fall 2003. I started as an Adjunct in 1999 while serving as an Assistant Professor at Cal Maritime.  

Last book you’ve read 

“Disproven” on the Trump campaign and fraudulent vote claims in the 2020 election.  

Favorite TV or streaming show/podcast/movie  

So many to choose from!  Big Fan of “The Chair” on Netflix and the “True Detective” series. And if there’s a podcast on politics, I listen. I am engaged in all things politics, 24/7.  

Why did you choose your profession? 

I love, love, love our students, and I enjoy engaging with them in and out of the classroom.  I learned so much from Political Scientists like Cheryl Petersen (one of the founding faculty of Sonoma State College) and others, like Andy Merrifield and Robert McNamara. The ability to give back based on their inspiring work is a dream come true.  

Favorite band/type of music

 I am a huge fan of the blues and love Junior Wells and Buddy Guy, among so many others.  Gotta love the harp with that guitar, man.  

A memorable moment with students 

I took a group of about 15 students to cover the first Obama Inauguration in January 2009.  We spent almost three weeks in D.C. living history and enjoying that moment.  

Why SSU is a good place for you  

The people here are so deeply committed to quality education that it is not really a job, and the location is great, too. It’s a passion that binds us all together and what keeps me here. Who would ever say that about those of us who live, breathe, and study politics?  Hah!

Kim Hester-Williams

Dr. Kim D. Hester Williams  

Professor of English and American Multicultural Studies  

What I teach

My areas of expertise are early American and 19th Century American literature, African American literature and culture, and Women’s literature. I teach a variety of classes including early American literature surveys, American Authors, American Romanticism and Transcendentalism, Environmental literature and Ecocriticism, African American literature surveys, Women’s literature and culture including Feminist literature, and American Gothic and Horror literature and film. 

How long have you been at SSU? 

I have been at Sonoma State since 1999. 

Last book you read? 

“The Bee Sting” (yeah, I know that’s an Irish book but it’s really good!). 

Favorite show, movie, or podcast? 

“Beef” ( compelling re: nature, race, gender, ecology, and environment) 

Favorite band or type of music? 

Nina Simone and Beyonce!!! (I’m definitely a Bee Hiver!) 

Why did you choose your field/profession? 

I was motivated by a World literature class and professor I had at L.A. Community College shortly after high school. He was so enthusiastic and taught me to love literature…”Madame Bovary” was my favorite book in that class! 

A memorable moment with students? 

I think it is all of the awesome student presentations in classes like “Mark Twain” and in Gothic/Horror literature and film...students presenting in costume for the “Carrie” (Stephen King novel and subsequent ‘70s film)! Also, when I lectured on the character Rufus in Octavia Butler’s “Kindred” at Santa Rosa Junior College and a student came up afterward in tears. I’ll never forget that. 

Why is SSU a good place to do what you do? 

The students! Hands down the smartest, most conscientious, thoughtful, and wonderful people on the planet! I am good friends, besties actually, with a few former students from some years back during my tenure at SSU. SSU students motivate me every day, and they inspire me to be a good teacher and a good human being.

Omayra Ortega

Dr. Omayra Ortega  

Associate Professor of Mathematics & Statistics 
Assistant Dean of Research & Internships

What I teach

Primarily upper division statistics courses; also differential equations, mathematical modeling, and doing research with my undergraduate research group MERG. 

How long have you been at SSU? 

I’ve been at SSU for a little over six years! The time has gone by so fast. 

Last book you read? 

“Losing the Precious Few: How America Fails to Educate Its Minorities in Science & Engineering” by Dr. Richard A. Tapia. This book is a great commentary from a seasoned veteran scientist from Rice University on the state of education and how it is still difficult – to impossible – for traditionally underserved Americans to succeed in STEM in this country, regardless of talent. 

Favorite show, movie, or podcast? 

For shows, I really like “Abbott Elementary,” “The Goldbergs,” or “The Secrets of Whales.” I just watched the Shirley Chisolm biopic starring Regina King, and it was amazing. As a native New Yorker, the Bodega Boys podcast will always have a special place in my heart. 

Favorite band or type of music? 

I listen to mostly electronic music – Theo Parrish, Bjork, and Machinedrum are some of my favorites. I like all kinds of music, but especially music that makes me think. I’ve admired The Kronos Quartet since high school and recently took my class to see them at the Green Music Center.  

Why did you choose your field/profession? 

Honestly, I’ve always loved mathematics because it is a field that studies and chronicles the pattern, beauty, and order that exists everywhere. Since graduate school, I have started teaching and doing more research in statistics. I became a professor because I enjoy interacting with people, learning, and traveling, all of which are required parts of my job. 

A memorable moment with students? 

I took a group of five students to the National Association of Mathematicians annual Undergraduate MATHFest at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Ga. in fall 2023 and had the best time watching these students enjoy the conference and take in all of the student research projects. Because we had a multi-hour delay on our flight home, we got to process everything we’d learned over a shared meal. I really enjoyed that unstructured time with my students. 

Why is SSU a good place to do what you do?

Because of our diverse student population and students who motivate me every day. Students who come here are eager and humble and really want to learn. The education SSU provides can change a student’s whole life, and I appreciate working at a place that can do so much good for society.

Read more from Insights / Spring 2024