Keith Hillkirk - Peace Corps Malaysia

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By Admin1 (admin) on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 9:46 pm: Edit Post

Keith Hillkirk - Peace Corps Malaysia - is new Dean at Southern Illinois University

Keith Hillkirk - Peace Corps Malaysia - is new Dean at Southern Illinois University

New dean to promote creative thinking in department

Angie Royer
Daily Egyptian Reporter

Keith Hillkirk, the new dean of the College of Education, said he has a strong belief in building on to already strong programs to make them better for the students.

Hillkirk, whose first day on the job was Monday, said he wants the atmosphere of the college to be a place where people should be able to speak their minds freely and originate some ideas. Hillkirk said he believes that kind of atmosphere exists at SIUC and would like to foster that atmosphere.

"To me, a university is a place where the spirit of the university should be centered around experimentation, trying out new ideas and a willingness to be open to different possibilities," he said.

Hillkirk said he accepted the dean position because of the positive experiences he had encountered while in Carbondale applying for the job in March.

"I was very impressed by the students, faculty, and administrators that I had met," he said.

Hillkirk said he feels there is an interest in him, primarily the work he has been doing and an interest in trying to do some things new and creative. He said he is very impressed by the people he is working with, such as the three associate deans that are in the department.

"They are really a creative and talented group of people and I'm looking forward to working with them very much," Hillkirk said.

Hillkirk got his undergraduate degree from Allegheny College in Pennsylvania. Then he got his masters degree in Shippensburg University and his teaching certificate.

With his teaching certificate, he taught high school English for 12 years. He then went to Pennsylvania State University to get his Doctrine degree.

For two years, he was an assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University and then he worked as an assistant dean at Ohio University until he came to SIUC.

Hillkirk said he believes that the involvement of parents makes students want to learn more. He wants to help parents understand how exciting it can be to be more connected to the school and to involved in their children's learning.

"We know that one of the strongest factors of students being successful in school is whether there is support from their family or not," he said.

Hillkirk said he has many goals that he would like to attain while he is the dean. For now, though, one of his main priorities are to get to know the college, the people and the students better.

"I already am sensing the people are really interested to build on the strengths of the college," Hillkirk said.

Along with experience, Hillkirk has had influences in his life to get him to the position. One of his biggest influences was being involved in the Peace Corps, he said. Hillkirk and his wife got involved into the Peace Corps after he graduated from Allegheny College.

He said one of the first things he did in the Peace Corps was to help the struggling people in Malaysia.

"Certainly the Peace Corps experience opens you to the sense of the world and of the richness of diversity," he said.

Hillkirk said the people he met while he was in graduate school had a great deal of influence on him.

"They taught me how we build positive relationships and create thigh energy teams," he said.

Hillkirk got a lot of support from his family in the move to SIUC. His son is in college and his daughter graduated from high school this year.

"We weren't interested in moving while she was in school," Hillkirk said.

Hillkirk said he had no intentions of becoming a teacher until his work in the Peace Corps required him to teach.

An unrealized influence on Hillkirk's life was his father. Hillkirk said he watched and listened to his father teach.

"Looking back, I know my father had affected me," he said. "I just didn't realize at the time when I was a kid."

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