Lee prof's style: '... Open your eyes!'

By COLBY DENTON

Posted 2/2/18

Brazilian-born Dr. Luis Almeida is bringing his own brand of leadership, flair and approachability to the role of professor at Lee University.

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Almeida grew up playing …

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Lee prof's style: '... Open your eyes!'

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Brazilian-born Dr. Luis Almeida is bringing his own brand of leadership, flair and approachability to the role of professor at Lee University.

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Almeida grew up playing golf, becoming a very accomplished player. Earning numerous trophies for tournaments, he says he originally wanted to be a professional golfer and work for the Professional Golfers' Association of America, or PGA.

“I actually came to America to learn English in 1998,” the 44-year-old explained, “and to play professional golf, of course.”

After attending Mississippi State for a time, Almeida transferred to the University of Southern Mississippi on a golf scholarship. His parents then moved to Pennsylvania due to his father’s job, so Almeida moved up North as well. He expected to continue his golf routine, but Pennsylvania's climate proved too harsh for year-round play.

“The golf team at Slippery Rock University wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but it ended up working out, because the International Office at the school offered me a scholarship to play music,” Almeida explained. “The College of International Affairs was trying to diversify the campus at Slippery Rock. They asked me what my talents were and I said, ‘I can play guitar,’ and they were very excited and asked if I could sing too! They said that this would be a means to contribute to the diversity of our institution, and also talk about my culture at school events.”

Originally majoring in sports management, Almeida says he was absolutely amazed how he was able to earn a scholarship as an amateur musician. He then went on to graduate at the top of his class with the title, "Outstanding Graduate Student" at Clarion University, then earned a Ph.D. at Penn State.

Following his graduation, Almeida was offered a position as head golf coach and assistant professor of communication at Waynesburg (Pa.) University. This marked the first time a Brazilian had been appointed as an NCAA head golf coach in the U.S. After Waynesburg, he was hired at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he was quickly promoted to social professor, voted department assistant chair and earned tenure.

“After living in Pennsylvania for a while, I submitted an application for the position of chair at Jackson State in Mississippi,” he added. “I got a phone call not asking me to be the chair, but asking me to work in strategic communications, which was something that I was doing back then. I decided to go and drove 15 hours to the interview.”

The school was trying to set up a school of communications and hoped to recruit Almeida, who believed that it was God opening up a new door for him and his wife. The school also awarded him tenure. Within three months, Almeida had co-written the document that justified Jackson State University as a legitimate school of journalism and media-studies university. A month later, he was appointed interim department chair.

The professor has earned numerous awards, including: Outstanding Researcher, Excellence in Advising Student-Athletes and many more. He has also been featured in various media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal. 

Around 2016, Jackson State was hit with big funding cuts that made it nearly impossible to even purchase paper. As a result, Almeida saw an opening at Lee University, which was a Christian school similar to ones where he had previously worked, and applied. He is now an associate professor of communications at Lee.

“In addition to teaching, our contract asks us to mentor students through advising and making a difference in their lives by helping them find the right path,” Almeida said. “This is where I am able to introduce 'TechnoModeration' to my students.”

TechnoModeration is what Almeida describes as disconnecting oneself from technology and moderating use of it, and is also the name of his regular column in the Cleveland Daily Banner.

Upon starting at Lee, he noticed a peculiar feeling of dizziness that plagued him throughout the day.

“I felt like I was on a boat,” he stated. “I went to numerous doctors and all of my tests came back negative, until I went to a different physician who asked if the former doctors had checked my ears. She checked them and noticed some fluid in them that was causing my feelings of vertigo. It turned out that I had an ailment called uncompensated labyrinthitis, which can be caused by looking at screens all day.”

Staring at computer screens, phones and TVs all day for hours on end in his role as communications professor only seemed to worsen the feeling of nausea.

Wanting to test this theory, Almeida experimented with looking at different electronic screens, and discovered that doing so actually worsened his nausea.

Due to this, Almeida has theorized a conceptual framework stating the more a subject looks at a computer screen, the more the subject becomes like a computer; it is only through a total burnout like he experienced that a subject will begin to moderate their technology usage. 

A rap was also created following TechnoModeration’s inception. The rap was fittingly titled, “TechnoModeration,” which features Almeida and Jose Ruiz, a Lee associate professor of music, and also a two-time Latin Grammy nominee. The rap centers on technology’s control over mankind, and how humans must break away from this cycle. 

Using a teaching style that is unorthodox, but also fun and engaging, Almeida hopes to get his students  to be open, genuine and attentive about different issues than they would commonly think of.

Almeida’s columns in the Banner typically go over technology, including the rise of artificial intelligence in society, TechnoModeration and other topics. Ironically, Almeida is a skilled IT professional with his doctorate in instructional systems technology.

“I want people to realize that my style of teaching and writing are meant to shake you and get your attention, but also to open your eyes to something that you may have not noticed before,” he said.

Almeida has numerous plans for future ways of reaching out to his community on issues like TechnoModeration. His song by that title can be purchased on the iTunes store, and the full album should be released in spring 2018.


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