Introducing…Chancellor Thomas Keon
Interview Questions and Answers
Q: Welcome to Purdue Calumet, Chancellor Keon. What was it about this university that motivated you to want to become its chancellor?
A: Well, thank you… Let me tell you there were many, many things that drove my interest to Purdue Calumet. However, probably the thing that’s closest to my heart was that I was a first generation college student… So knowing what the faculty needs to do in an institution like this, and knowing who the students are and the needs of the students, and what can be accomplished when an individual who is first generation gets an opportunity, the sky is the limit. And so it’s just really exciting to be here.
Q: You have come to Purdue Calumet after having served for 14 years as dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Central Florida. How will your experience and accomplishments there prove beneficial to you here?
A: …I spent a great deal of time as a business dean working in the community, raising money and building partnerships. That job is very external…, and that is one of the things that I bring that I think will be an important factor for this university and for me as we move forward.
Q: With respect to all you have achieved throughout your career in education, what makes your new role as chancellor of Purdue Calumet a good fit for you?
A: …One is my love for teaching… I enjoyed being with the students. I enjoyed developing the students beyond the classroom; that piece is extraordinarily important to me. The second piece has more to do with my philosophy of education. I am an individual who thinks that knowledge is wonderful; however, knowledge that is applied is excellent! The sense I have is that Purdue (Calumet) makes sure that students not only learn the information that’s in text books, but (students) also learn how to apply that information… (in) the real world…
Q: In the short time you have been here, what has impressed you about Purdue Calumet?
A: I think that (what) has impressed me the most is everybody’s interest in the students and student success… The fact that people are really interested in student success, student quality and the education of the students has really, really been impressive to me.
Q: In some of your earlier remarks, you have referred to Purdue Calumet as “Hometown University.” Please explain what you mean by that?
A: My concept of a hometown university is a university that is working with its community—a relationship that is meaningful and valuable, a relationship that requires lots of partnerships, lots of give and take on the side of the community and the side of the university. It’s also an opportunity for us as an institution to be Number 1, to be THE place for education in Northwest Indiana, THE place for cultural activity… I think we’re on a great road to developing strong athletics and a more varied athletics program… And then, finally, as a fourth point, I think a university should be a center for economic vitality and activity… A university should be a spark for entrepreneurship, for innovation and for implementation of ideas into markets so that we not only are growing students, but maybe we can actually help grow jobs for students…
Q: What is your vision for Purdue Calumet?
A: My vision is to extend the level of quality that I’ve seen in the institution. For me, the strongest and most significant (benefit) we can provide is quality education…
Q: What do you hope will distinguish Purdue Calumet under your leadership?
A: I hope that we will see Purdue Calumet bring to the community opportunities for students who may have a stronger interest in college, but (have difficulty going) for one reason or another… and that (those students) find us as their place for success…
Q: In recent years, Purdue Calumet has made a strong commitment to offering a Purdue education that integrates traditional and applied learning through internships, experiential learning, undergraduate research and more. Will that hands-on approach to learning continue to be emphasized under your leadership?
A: I am a true believer in learning by doing… I strongly support experience(s) for a lifetime here at Purdue Calumet.
Q: If student success is the cornerstone of an effective education, briefly share your thoughts on how Purdue Calumet should and will enable student success.
A: Many of our students come to us (from a) family environment that (may not have) enough information about how to be successful. One of the things that I think is a valuable platform for our students is that we teach them about life skills, (as well as) to apply the information (and knowledge) they have…
Q: As a regional university within the world-respected Purdue system, what do you see as the next step for Purdue Calumet?
A: I think the next step for Purdue Calumet is to let people know more about us… In some ways we’re hidden between exits 2 and 3 on Interstate 80/94, and it’s time for us to break out of our shell and let people know we’re here…
Q: What are your priorities for the 2011-12 academic year?
A: During the 2011 and 2012 academic year, there will still be an ongoing opportunity for me to learn more about the specific operations of campus. I would also, however, like to start in motion some activities to get faculty and administrators a bit more involved with the re-establishment and redevelopment of the next (university) five-year strategic plan. That next strategic plan should be the pathway that we would be following as we move forward.
Q: In closing, tell us about your family.
A: I’m very pleased to be here with my wonderful wife, Nancy. She has been truly wonderful in helping me with this career move. As you may know, she has been a professional herself and is going to dedicate her time to Purdue Calumet as opposed to her own profession… (and) I have a son who would love to be a film maker…