Dean candidate wants consistency

Christina Thomas

Bill Monroe has traveled all the way from Texas and has braved the bitter, cold Ohio weather to apply for the honors dean position.

The executive associate dean of the Honors College at the University of Houston had his reception yesterday afternoon after a day filled of interviews and meetings around campus. He said he spent the day meeting with different groups who interviewed him about the job. At the end of the day, he came to the Honors College in Stopher Hall where students, faculty and administrators were welcomed to meet him and talk to him.

Q: What interested you in applying for the honors dean position?

A: Kent State University has one of the oldest and most respected Honors Colleges in the country, and if you’re interested in honors or if you think it is an exciting career, then Kent is one of the very best places.

Q: What is your educational/work history?

A: My undergraduate and masters degrees are from the University of Texas. My doctorate is from the University of Chicago in English language and literature. I’ve taught at a number of different kinds of institutions such as a community college, liberal arts college, and two large state universities. The last 20 years I have been involved with honors education as associate director and associate dean, and I am now executive associate dean of an honors college at the University of Houston.

Q: What experiences from your career do you think will benefit you in this position?

A: I have a lot of experience with an honors college and honors education at an institution very much like Kent. It is similar in size and much the same in demographics, playing a similar role in a particular region of a state. So I think my experience with the Honors College at Houston would be directly applicable.

Q: Since the honors program is different because it is not a degree-giving college, what characteristics should an honors dean have compared to other deans?

A: I think an honors dean has to be always looking for partnerships and always building bridges to other disciplines. If you’re dean of a disciplinary college, your primary focus is going to be on that discipline, but if you are in honors, you have to be involved with all those disciplines and you have to have open lines of communication with the leaders, faculty and students. Communication and personal relationships are extremely important for an honors dean.

Q: What are your goals/plans if you are appointed the position?

A: I think I would like to see the honors courses develop more fully and possibly develop some consistency over time. I would also like to see additional faculty from across the campus involved in honors education, and I would like the students to be able to access honors experiences in more departments and more disciplines.

Q: Do you have any new ideas for the Honors College that you think will improve the college?

A: I think I would bring some new ideas about fundraising, because I’ve had success generating external funds in support of honors education. Some of the money would go to scholarships for students, some of it would go to stipends for faculty who are participating in the Honors College. Some funds would go to programming for visiting speakers and bringing master speakers to campus, which would give students the opportunity to interact in informal ways with scholars and teachers from around the country.

Q: As a dean, students look to you for guidance. What advice can you give to students preparing to graduate from college?

A: It’s important as a graduate of the university to think of yourself as an educated person who has the responsibility to be a teacher yourself, regardless of what field you might be going into. As a university graduate, and particularly an Honors College graduate, you should think of yourself as a teacher-leader in society so that you’re always attempting to bring other people along and contributing in the ways that you can to others’ well-being.

Contact Honors College reporter Christina Thomas at [email protected].