2011 TC Pressroom
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Frank Golom

Frank Golom

Frank Golom has been on the front lines of culture change. Now he’s discovered a career in teaching about it

By Joe Levine

When organizations talk about culture change, it can be so much hot air. But as Frank Golom knows, change can sometimes be profound.

As a sophomore at Baltimore’s Loyola University, Golom was subjected to intense harassment after his roommates learned he was gay.

For Golom, the son of a sheet metal worker and office manager, the incident was especially painful because it violated Loyola’s Jesuit educational philosophy of cura personalis, or “care for the whole person.”

“When I got there, The Princeton Review described Loyola as ‘homophobic,’” recalls Golom, now a sixth-year doctoral student in TC’s social-organizational psychology program. “There was no understanding of LGBT issues and no resources to deal with the situation.”

So Golom took charge of the campus LGBT organization, led creation of an LGBT dorm and became Loyola’s first openly gay student government president.

By the time he graduated, the Director of Campus Ministry had written an article calling homophobia a sin. Golom, too, had changed. “Having that experience yoked my academic interest in psychology to the idea that values matter, that we need to care about something larger than ourselves.”

Golom brings the same mindset to social-org psych, a discipline that can be “dry and industrial,” but at TC gets to the nitty-gritty of how people in the workplace behave with and around each other. His dissertation explores LGBT employees’ experiences in work teams, an issue little studied.

Meanwhile, since fielding a chance assignment substituting for an instructor on leave, Golom, at the ripe old age of 29, has taught at Hunter, Barnard and TC (including a stint working with military officers in social-org psych’s Eisenhower Leadership Development Program and consulting to student practicum teams working with New York City nonprofits).

“It’s my responsibility to make my students love and understand the material as much as I do,” he says of teaching. “To emphasize its relevance to prior experience and what they think they already know.”

Golom also serves as Assistant Director of TC’s executive masters program in change leadership, launching this spring—a fitting assignment given his Loyola experience. He likes the mix of teaching, research and administration, but ultimately wants to get into government.

“I’m a political junkie, and believe we could stand to bring some psychology and adult learning into how this country does politics. That’s change, too, so to me, it’s all related.”


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