Chairperson, Professor, and Graduate Program Director
Professor Karen Eskow, chair of the Department of Family Studies and Community Development, looks at her 28-year career at Towson University as “a pretty good run.” It is a modest claim from an educator who taught in the Department of Occupational Therapy and Occupational Science for more than a decade before helping to develop and launch Towson’s highly regarded Department of Family Studies and Community Development.
In the last 15 years, first as program director and then department chair, Eskow has seen her department grow from 10 majors and two faculty members in 2002 to 431 majors and a faculty of 16.
What does she feel attracts so many students to this area of study? “First of all, our students are absolutely engaged by the passion of our faculty in this department,” she says. “Many of our professors are researchers, so they are sharing new insights in the classroom every day. Our students also like to be challenged. While it is nice to get an A, it is awesome to get that A you have really worked for.”
Having this sense of discipline is essential in the research component of family studies, notes Eskow. She is herself a recognized researcher in the study of autism’s impacts on the family, for which she was awarded a $600,000 grant from the National Institute for Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research.
“Research helps you answer questions—and find new questions to answer,” she says. “The more objective you can be in what you study and learn, the more you can be a good, civil human being who is open to understanding and helping people live satisfactory lives.”
“That is what makes our work exciting for our students. They know that what they are studying is making a real difference.”