Dodson named founding dean of LU Honors College
Following a national search, Kevin Dodson, professor of philosophy and interim dean of the Lamar University Honors College, has been named founding dean of the college effective September 1. As the dean of the new Honors College, Dodson is the chief executive officer, budgetary and programmatic authority and academic leader of the college, and he is a member of the Academic Council of Deans.
“I’m incredibly excited about the future, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how to upgrade the program beyond what we’ve already done to upgrade it and elevate it, so I’m thrilled,” Dodson said.
Dodson received his bachelor’s in philosophy from the University of Washington and his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He began working at Lamar in 1991 as an assistant professor of philosophy and became a full professor in 2003. In 2004, Dodson became the assistant director of the Honors Program, now the Honors College. Dodson became the director of the program in 2008.
As the founding dean of the college, Dodson will facilitate the transition from the Honors Program to an Honors College. The Honors Program, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013, was inaugurated in 1963 and is the oldest honors program in the Texas State University System. The program serves more than 300 students. The Honors College will officially open its doors in fall 2014, completing the transition.
“There are two main things that an honors college is about: academic excellence and community engagement,” Dodson said. “We’re going to pursue both of those, and we’re going to use the Honors College to lift the profile of Lamar.”
Some of the changes to the college have already been implemented, such as graduation requirements for its students.
“We’ve added an additional requirement of high impact educational practices for our students,” Dodson said. “Students have to do one of four: study abroad, undergraduate research, internships and co-ops, or service learning. We’re going to push that and we’re going to provide funding to enable students to pursue one of those high-impact educational practices. Whenever a student comes to Lamar, they will be asked to do more academically. They will also have the resources available to them so that they can do more.”
Dodson also hopes to make the college more visible and prominent on campus.
“Honors is about academic excellence and community engagement,” Dodson said. “While nothing is official yet, what I want to do is construct a speaker series whereby we’re bringing academics and public intellectuals who are recognized for their excellence within their discipline, but have taken that knowledge and are trying to bring it to a larger public and bring it to bear on issues of public concern. I think it helps the students, but I also think it’s something that the faculty would be interested in.”
The new college, along with Lamar administration and the Office of Undergraduate Research, will be housed in a new facility set for completion in fall 2015. The facility will be located on the corner of Jim Gilligan Way and Rolfe Christopher Drive, the former location of Brooks-Shivers Residence Hall.
“The building will have offices for the dean and the executive assistants,” Dodson said. “We’ll have a larger student lounge, so hopefully we can have more meetings there. We’re going to have two classrooms, both of which can probably hold about 25 people. We’ll also have a computer area and a study area, as well as an entry where students can talk to a general receptionist. It’s going to be a beautiful building and a beautiful space.”