Students meet with second Honors College Associate Director candidate

Monica Kast

The Honors College hosted an open student session on Monday for the second candidate for the position of Honors College Associate Director and Honors Academy Department Head.

The Honors College associate director will oversee the Honors College curriculum, staff and leadership and development within the Honors Academy. Additionally, they will teach one class annually.

Chris Keller is currently serving as the associate dean of the Honors College at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Previously, Keller served as the Director of the Honors Program at the University of Texas-Pan American.

At the open student session, current honors students were able to meet Keller and ask questions about himself and his plans for the Honors College if selected for the position.

Keller said that his current position is at a larger university, but has a smaller honors college. He said that the Honors College at the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley is set up similarly to the Honors College at WKU.

“My university is a little bit larger overall,” Keller said. “In terms of population, we’re at about 30,000 students, but the Honors College is actually smaller, so right now we’re closer to about 400, although it’s growing relatively quickly.”

Students asked about curriculum strategies Keller may want to implement, specifically in terms of making honors courses more available to programs such as nursing and engineering, and also about improvements to the honors thesis track. Students also had questions about any plans that Keller may have for improving diversity within the Honors College at WKU.

Keller also spoke on study abroad and study away programs at the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley, and the importance of those programs to the students there. Keller said that there are many first-generation college students and first-generation Americans that study abroad at his current university, and that opens their eyes to new cultures and experiences.

“The value of the study abroad in some cases is just getting them out of their comfort zone, just getting them out to see different cultures, even if it’s only for 12 days,” Keller said. “I think they kind of recognize just how insular and how small the areas are where we live.”

Keller said that as for teaching a course, he would be interested in writing related courses, because that is where his background is, and service-learning courses, that incorporate serving the community into the course.

The next candidate for the position, Dana Burr Bradley, will be on campus on April 12, and the Honors College will host another open student session on that day.