Written and compiled by current and past SoTL Scholar-Mentors at Illinois State University
Earlier this week, Kathleen McKinney posted a blog on this site, reflecting on what SoTL has meant to her. The timing of this blog was important, as it was posted at the start of Kathleen’s last week before retiring as the Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL at Illinois State University. The timing of today’s blog is equally important, as today is Kathleen’s last day of work at ISU before she retires. Several recent SoTL Scholar-Mentors could not let this day go by without letting Kathleen know that as much as SoTL has meant to her, she has meant a great deal to the SoTL movement on our campus and beyond.
Kathleen has attributed her professional success to “advice, assistance, collaboration, and relationships.” She may have received those things from others during her career, but she has returned those same things in spades. Please indulge us today, as we acknowledge what Kathleen has meant to us, publicly and sincerely. She deserves it. Those of us passionate about SoTL at ISU know that she has been an amazing trailblazer, affecting change that has furthered the mission of our university. We gladly learn and teach at ISU, and we do that via systematic reflection and study — because of the work of Kathleen McKinney. We wish her the very best of luck going forward! Congratulations, Kathleen!
The people who transform our lives often show up in subtle ways and it is only with hindsight that we realize how fundamentally we have been impacted. When I first met Kathleen McKinney in 2008 I had no idea that I was gaining a research mentor, a skillful facilitator, a tireless role model, an impassioned advocate, and a lifelong friend. A quick review of my CV certainly delineates Kathleen’s influence with SoTL articles, awards, grants, conference presentations, service, and video documentaries all accomplished with her steady and inspiring collaboration. But the elements that can’t be itemized are even more important to me, as Kathleen has helped me define a significant approach to scholarship that has true meaning to my practice and to my sense of self. Thank you, Kathleen. My personal journey from media professional to academic scholar and teacher is profoundly more successful because of you.
-Maria Moore, Associate Professor & Mass Media Program Coordinator, School of Communication and 2014 SoTL Mentor
I vacillated on whether to use the present or past tense in this brief post about what Kathleen McKinney means to SoTL. In light of her recent retirement after a lifetime of scholarship and teaching, it would seem appropriate to use the past tense except for one significant factor. Her contributions endure, whether in written works, previous instruction or sheer inspiration and are very much a dynamic part of the academic community. Someone with greater acumen on grammatical matters (and that includes Kathleen herself) will hopefully forgive the messiness of verb tenses that follow. When I write that she was a most enthusiastic supporter of the scholarship of teaching and learning here at ISU, I also mean that her passion was infectious and still rejuvenates the lot of us who follow in her wake.
Kathleen’s bio reveals some of her many specific accomplishments, while the body of SoTL literature is replete with reference to those contributions. She is rooted in the field. And in my specific case, she is also embedded as a benefactor. When reflecting upon my varied experiences as a SoTL Scholar Mentor during 2014-15, a position that fostered professional development as a researcher and teacher and amplified collaboration with colleagues across a multitude of disciplines, I remain wholeheartedly grateful for the role that Kathleen played in bringing me on board. Occupying the Office of the Cross Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning she was certainly more than a program administrator. She was a mentor’s mentor. It was Kathleen who flung open the doors to the SoTL community and guided my novice beginnings while shepherding or collaborating with others already heavily engaged in such work. Essentially it was Kathleen who—-through dedication, spirit and hard work—-exemplifies the mission and goals of SoTL itself, and continues to demonstrate its value to our university.
-Michaelene Cox, Associate Professor, Politics & Government and 2014-15 SoTL Scholar-Mentor
While on a tour of the CTLT during my campus interview, I noticed a small sticker on one of the office doors. It was for the ISU Equestrians and immediately I knew that I wanted to be involved with that organization. Little did I know what a profound impact it would have on my future work at Illinois State. When I arrived later that fall, I reached out to the faculty advisor, Dr. Kathleen McKinney. We began working together as co-advisers for the ISU Equestrians, a registered student organization. We soon began to discuss the personal and professional learning that we observed in the student members of the organization and my first SoTL project was born.
I had never done SoTL research before and working with Kathleen, with her incredible knowledge of and passion for SoTL, was inspiring. We presented our findings at the CTLT Symposium, several conferences, and finally published it in the Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. In the seven years I have been at ISU, I have engaged in a number of SoTL projects with the support of Kathleen. Through her never-ending encouragement and mentorship, not only did my own research agenda reflect my interest in SoTL, but I was afforded a number of opportunities to work with other faculty members on campus to develop their SoTL research as well.
It is for this reason, that while Kathleen will be greatly missed, her impact on this campus will continue through the support and guidance she has shown to so many. Thank you, Kathleen, for being an advocate for SoTL, an outstanding mentor, and wonderful friend.
-Erin Mikulec, Associate Professor, Teaching & Learning and 2015-16 SoTL Scholar-Mentor
In 2005, I came to ISU as both an excited teacher and a reluctant researcher. During my first year on campus, I attended an “Intro to SoTL” workshop led by Kathleen. It was the best 2 hours I’ve ever spent in terms of professional development. I left that workshop saying to myself, “THIS is what I want to do!” The rest is truly history.
In working as a SoTL Scholar-Mentor the last three years, I’ve mentored others while simultaneously being mentored by Kathleen. My work with her has deepened and broadened my interest of and knowledge about SoTL in numerous ways. She has tirelessly supported so many of us — building personal and professional relationships that will live on beyond Kathleen’s retirement. I am not sure how many late night emails and text messages we have exchanged in the last few years about various topics and projects, but I view them as tangible evidence of strong support that is so very appreciated.
Kathleen has demonstrated the best of teaching and learning as a SoTL mentor, and I am a better teacher and researcher because of her. I hope I can return the favor in the very near future in my work with SoTL researchers on campus and beyond. To that end, I celebrate Kathleen’s retirement with respect for her contributions and successes as well as a true excitement to continue and extend the work that she has done here at ISU. I embark on my journey as the next Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL tomorrow — ready for this role because of Kathleen. Thank you, my friend!
-Jen Friberg, Incoming Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL, Associate Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders, and 2013-16 SoTL Scholar-Mentor