Born and raised in New York City, Brian is the first-born son of Irish immigrants and the first Raftery in America or Ireland to graduate from college. His parents were devoutly religious, and they made many sacrifices so that he could have a rigorous and traditional Catholic education. Brian was taught by the sisters of St. Joseph at Blessed Sacrament School, by Franciscan brothers at St. Francis Preparatory High School and by the Vincentian fathers at St. John’s University, from which he graduated cum laude. Dreaming of becoming an English professor, Brian went to Syracuse University on a teaching fellowship. When he took a year off before entering the PhD program at Syracuse, he met his future wife at a publishing convention in Washington, D.C. Judy and Brian have four children, all of whom are attending college or working in California.
Faculty Spotlight Questions:
Who am I and how did I get to GCU?
After 27 years in the publishing and financial services industries, I joined GCU’s full-time English faculty in 2010. It was the best career decision that I ever made, because teaching at GCU confirmed my purpose. I teach composition and literature courses, and I serve on the university assessment committee. Currently, I am also one of four domain leads for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) at Grand Canyon University, a role that allows me to liaise between the dean’s office and the English faculty.
What do I enjoy most in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences?
The truth is that I enjoy every aspect of teaching for CHSS. Our dean, Dr. Sherman Elliott, is a leader whose devout faith and dedication to student learning are truly inspirational. Everywhere is a spirit of collegiality and collaboration that unites the faculty and administration in our drive to offer the best possible education to our students. Since our college is responsible for almost all of the general education courses, every GCU student will pass through our classrooms, a responsibility that motivates and challenges everyone at CHSS every day.
What advice do I have for GCU students?
My practical advice to students is to communicate regularly with your professors and follow their counsel. GCU has a student-oriented faculty, and I am proud to be a member of this dedicated team of professionals. We are here to help students to be successful, and we value the opportunities to learn additional ways we can be of help to our students.
My inspirational advice is attributed to the great American writer Herman Melville, who was said to urge young people he knew to “be true to the dreams of your youth.” My youthful dream of becoming a college professor was put on hold for over 20 years as Judy and I raised our children, but I never stopped hoping and praying that one day I would be able to attain it. My fulfillment of a dream deferred offers encouraging proof that there are second chapters in American lives.