On the morning of March 15, students, faculty and staff were greeted with a “Nota Bene” from President Miller announcing the new Dean of the Batten Honors College (BHC), Dr. Travis Malone. At the end of the academic year, Dr. Joyce Easter, the founding BHC Dean, will return to the academic realm as a professor of chemistry.
Dr. Malone came to Virginia Wesleyan University (VWU) with a PhD in Theatre from Bowling Green State University, a master’s degree from Kansas State University, and a bachelor’s degree from Sterling College. He is currently a Professor of Theatre in the Susan S. Goode School of Arts and Humanities. Formerly, he served as the school’s founding dean.
An interview was conducted with Dr. Malone in an effort for students to become more acquainted with him. His responses are listed below.
How did you come into this position?
As former Dean of the Goode School of Arts and Humanities, I regularly assisted with recruiting for the Batten Honors College. I have also taught the senior class in the fall and will do so again in the next academic year.
What are you most looking forward to as the new Dean of the Batten Honors College?
As Dean, I will continue to expand opportunities for BHC students to understand the value of the liberal arts and life-long learning. Having passions and the opportunity to combine those with the passion of a major or area of study can be one of the strongest inspirations for innovation. The liberal arts teaches us the value of multiple perspectives – perspectives in context, perspectives of others, and perspectives of discipline outside of our own majors. Context matters, but only so far as we allow ourselves the space to listen to what others have to say. True innovation comes from the risk and the space to explore ideas in their fullest.
What valuable experiences/perspectives can/will you bring to the students in the Batten Honors College?
I understand the value of the liberal arts to our understanding of each other and the world. As an undergraduate student, I received a fellowship to study with the Earthwatch Foundation. I spent two separate summers studying spotted owls in the Sierra Mountains. While there, we conducted population censuses of owls and the mammals (mice, chipmunk, and flying squirrel) that comprise their food source. The goal was to study the relationship between the owls, especially in the difference between east/west slope habitats. The findings of our work were used by the foundation in their campaign for environmental sustainability and threatened species. Even though I went on to work in theatre and entertainment, I still read frequently and support organizations devoted to environmental sustainability. That experience fueled a love of life-long learning for me. Even today, I have produced and directed productions focused around sustainability. I look for more ways to help students understand that study and passions don’t have to begin or end with graduation, they can go for a lifetime.
Are there any changes you are looking to bring to the Batten Honors College as the new Dean?
I look forward to helping current and future students under the mentorship of our amazing VWU faculty colleagues to explore future growth for the Honors College, including stronger cross-campus collaboration, expanded internship opportunities, and cross-disciplinary research in leadership and innovation.
If you are planning a study away course with BHC students, where would you like to go?
I will be co-teaching a study away course to Tokyo, Japan in May 2022. In the study away experience, students from the BHC and VWU Global Campus/Lakeland University Japan will conduct a summit surrounding issues on the role of women in global society.
Dr. Malone concluded the interview with a message for all BHC students:
I am very excited to build upon the great foundations established by Dr. Easter. The Batten Honors College will continue to build upon those traditions and evolve to adapt to changes across the country and around the world. The goal is always to help students expand their skills in leadership, collaboration, communication, innovation and environmental stewardship.
By Jack Palmer