New Associate Dean of BW School of Humanities Gives Advice on Learning and COVID-19

Denise Kohn, tenured English professor and English department chair, will be appointed as the new associate dean for Baldwin Wallace’s School of Humanities following the end of the spring 2020 semester.

Kohn will be responsible for overseeing the School of Humanities and focusing on working with department chairs within the school.

As Baldwin Wallace moves to an online teaching format amid the COVID-19 crisis, Kohn’s role remains vital.

Though this will not directly affect Kohn’s appointment as associate dean, there is also a need to emphasize COVID-19 and how it will affect learning outcomes moving forward.

Kohn’s role will be vital in changing the way students and faculty interact, even on digital forefront platforms.

Kohn hopes that her success with students in the past will be a big part of the transition.

“I am really proud of how well students are doing in the job market, and how employers have found that the course work and experience offered to our students have prepared them to do well,” she said.

Kohn said she is most excited to further her learning and knowledge of the skills needed to fill such a significant role on-campus.

“I’ve only been the department chair, so learning about the long-term budgeting process – simply because I’ve only had to give out the budget for a much smaller department – and thinking about it in the terms for a whole school is new,” she said. “And, I feel like developing this skill would give me a new insight on how decisions are made.”

Kohn has credited Susan Oldrieve, current associate dean for the School of Humanities, for shaping this role for years to come.

“It is a relatively new role, being only six years old… the associate dean is there to ensure organization and have a strong sense of identity on campus,” said Kohn.

Kohn said she has always had a passion for reading and writing. She chose to study English as a profession because of this passion and the importance of the English language.

“Reading and writing have always been at the source of my identity,” she said. “Understanding literature, writing for an audience…those are just a few things that have and continue to be important to me, as we understand the world around us through language and sharing our story.”

Considering the events that COVID-19 has previously and continues to impact, Kohn is acknowledging her role as incoming associate dean – and the struggles that students and faculty may face during this time.

“I want to acknowledge how hard it is to focus, perhaps, now more than ever,” she said. “Our education offers us the importance of knowledge, information, and skills that we will need more than ever.”

Kohn said that risk management and future planning for possible occurrences like the COVID-19 crisis will be issued when classes resume. How to prepare from an academic point of view will be crucial for not only students and faculty, but the BW community.

It is times like this when community plays an important role in learning how to pull together in times of crisis to help one another.

“BW is still community, and we need our community more than ever,” said Kohn.

Kohn has also shared some advice for faculty who may be new to online teaching. Kohn said she wants faculty to know that teaching a course online is much different, and to recognize this is very important.

As, Blackboard collaborate is very new to most faculty and, students. Kohn said there are several ways to incorporate writing into the online format.

“Personally, for me, [teaching online] it’s not the same. After you accept the difference there are opportunities to use discussion board (located in Blackboard) to get students to write,” she said. “This is a more informal style of writing, but we have to be skilled at both informal and formal.”

Kohn’s role as associate dean will also be vital when students and faculty return to campus and there will still be things that need to be sorted out in the Fall.

“One of them will be to sit down and figure out what it is we have learned, especially–through learning, what it is we can takeaway to improve face-to-face class meetings,” said Kohn.