WVU Honors Dean is Finalist for Top Post at Commonwealth Honors College

February 4, 2014
Keith Garbutt

A second finalist for dean of Commonwealth Honors College, Keith Garbutt, will give a presentation to the campus community on Monday, Feb. 10 at 3:15 p.m. in 174-76 Campus Center. He will be available for questions until 4:45 p.m.

Professor of biology at West Virginia University, Garbutt was named director of the university’s honors program in 2000. At that time, the honors program served approximately 500 students and had an entering class of around 100 students. During the next six years under his direction, enrollment increased and the program matured to the point that it met all the National Collegiate Honors Council’s criteria for an honors college.

In 2006, the WVU board of governors approved the creation of the honors college and Garbutt was named dean. Enrollment has continued to increase and in 2013 the honors college supported nearly 1,800 students and had an entering class of just under 600. With the increased enrollment the college outgrew the old first-year honors housing in Stalnaker Hall and a new residence hall, which also houses the honors college administration, was built in 2009. At WVU each residence hall has a faculty member, known as the resident faculty leader, who lives either in an apartment in the hall or in a house adjacent to it. Garbutt and his wife elected to be the resident faculty for honors hall. In this position they offer academic and cultural programs to the students and provide (in the secular sense) pastoral support to the students.

Garbutt received both his B.Sc. (Hons.) and Ph.D. in botany from the University of Wales, U.K. In 1980, he came to the U.S. and did postdoctoral work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and at Harvard University before moving to West Virginia University in 1987 as an assistant professor. Shortly after receiving tenure in 1993 he became chair of the department of biology, a position he held until 2000. That same year, Garbutt’s work in innovation in undergraduate education led to his being named the Eberly Family Distinguished Professor for Outstanding Teaching, a chair he still holds. As a biologist Garbutt’s work focused in the main on the population biology, physiology and genetics of weedy plants; his research has been supported by awards from National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency and other external sources. Since becoming a full-time administrator his scholarly concerns have moved to issues of education and honors administration. He has written and presented on issues such as the impact of merit aid on socioeconomic diversity, support for first generation students and student leadership. His most recent publication is “The Other Culture: Science and Mathematics Education in Honors,” a 2012 National Collegiate Honors Council monograph edited with Ellen B. Buckner.

His  CV can be found at https://www.umass.edu/provost/node/163