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Getting to know...Karen Goodchild

Karen Goodchild came to Wofford as a visiting professor with an undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia and Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Virginia. After studying at two large state universities, who knew she would find a home at a small liberal arts college in Spartanburg, S.C.?
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Goodchild met associate philosophy professor Steve Michelman after arriving at Wofford. Soon, they would be married, and together they are raising two beautiful children (ages seven and five) and work just down the hall from each other. Not a bad deal, and all it needed was a little helpful push from Fate.

“Luckily the art history department here was hiring when we met,” she recalls. “I’ve now been here for nine years.”

What’s it like working so close to one’s spouse?

“We understand each other so well,” says Goodchild. “He knows what my day is like and I know what his is like. Wofford is such a family friendly place, too. Our kids love coming to the campus.”

The other kids in Goodchild’s life are the students in her art classes. Goodchild’s background is Italian Renaissance, but she has done her best to open doors and young minds to other cultures.

“One good thing about teaching at Wofford is that you get to teach a lot of different things, so I’ve explored other areas of interest,” she says. “I had studied African art in graduate school, and there was no one teaching it here, so I developed a survey course in African art which serves the art history department as well as the African American studies program.”

Goodchild and associate English professor Sally Hitchmough (who is also married to a fellow professor, Alan Chalmers) started the gender studies program at Wofford about six years ago, and her African art class is part of that program, as well.

“In traditional African art, certain things are made and used by men and others only by women,” she says.

When not working, Goodchild loves to read novels, particularly 19th Century, but others as well.

“One of my favorite things here at Wofford is that there is a group of faculty that talk about a big book every summer,” she says. “One summer it was Moby Dick. Another time it was Ulysses by James Joyce. We have a glass of wine and talk about the book we’re all reading.”

Goodchild also loves to travel. She and her family spent a good portion of this past summer in Italy.

“It was a fantastic experience,” she says. “My husband studied in France, so I think that is next on our list.”

Meanwhile, back in the States, they are planning on bringing an addition into their home very soon.

“We got a dog this Christmas,” says Goodchild. “We got a perfect hypoallergenic poodle mix puppy, just like the Obamas are wanting. So actually, we ARE the Obamas…the Obamas of Spartanburg.”

Do they live in a white house?

“No, but the trim is white,” she laughs.