Kathleen A. Marrs named interim executive associate dean of the IUPUI Honors College


Kathleen A. Marrs, Ph.D., an associate professor of biology in the School of Science at IUPUI, has been named the interim executive associate dean (EAD) of the IUPUI Honors College. Marrs has worked with the Division of Undergraduate Education in some capacity throughout the years and will bring years of experience to the position. 

Marrs has served in various administrative roles on campus, including as associate dean for academic affairs, the director of the Urban Center for the Advancement of STEM Education, and director of the IUPUI Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellowship, now known as The Institute for Citizens & Scholars. She is also the faculty advisor for the Undergraduate Women in Science (UWIS) Council and Women4Change Indiana @ IUPUI. 

Outside of IUPUI, she is active within the community, serving on the Board of Directors for Girl Scouts of Central Indiana and Women4Change Indiana. Nationally, she serves as a Partnership for Undergraduate Life Science Education (PULSE) fellow while working as a co-investigator on a multi-institute National Science Foundation Research Coordinated Networks for Undergraduate Biology Education with PULSE colleagues.  

As the interim executive associate dean, Marrs will serve hundreds of diverse, high-ability undergraduate students by supporting and challenging them with innovative curricular and co-curricular experiences. She also will shape the Honors College’s programs, furthering its mission and vision, and ensuring the advancement of its impact. 

Kristy Sheeler, the previous executive associate dean of IUPUI Honors College and current interim associate vice chancellor for undergraduate education, announced Marrs’ appointment.

Kathy Marrs is the ideal person to serve as the interim EAD because of her drive, energy, and collegiality as well as her longtime support and work on behalf of Honors College students. I am excited to welcome her to the IUPUI Honors College.

Kristy Sheeler

Sheeler also pointed out that Marrs was recently honored as a 2021 Outstanding Woman Leader thanks to a strong nomination submitted by students. Marrs other recognitions include the 2019 Herron-Bodner-Boschmann Award for Scholarly Work in Science Education, the 2020 School of Science Innovative Educator Award, and the 2021 Sarah Baker High-Impact Practices Teaching Award. 

Marrs shared her goals for this position, her vision for the Honors College, and what she is bringing to the table. 

Q. What do you see as the future of the IUPUI Honors College? 

A. The IUPUI Honors College provides a supportive academic environment where students and faculty work together to develop learning experiences that build on student's initiative and interests.  

Since students have experienced major societal shifts in the past 18 months due to events surrounding the pandemic, it is even more important that they have the opportunity to reflect on the social contexts of their learning and apply their critical thinking and research skills to address real-world challenges in our state and beyond. We also need to help students develop a broad interdisciplinary perspective to prepare them for their future and to demonstrate IUPUI’s commitment to civic engagement and global citizenship.

Q. What are your goals in this position?

A. As a newly named interim executive associate dean, some of my initial goals are to listen and learn from the extensive expertise of the Honors College staff, hear the perspectives of the advisory council, and work to support Dr. Kristy Sheeler in her role as interim associate vice chancellor of the Division of Undergraduate Education.

I am really looking forward to interacting with our Honors College students across campus and learning about their diverse experiences and perspectives with the goal of developing new Honors College programming and courses, learning community options, and research and leadership opportunities for our students. 

Q. Why are you passionate about the IUPUI Honors College? 

A. I have worked with Honors College students for many years through teaching and other academic experiences, and my passion for the IUPUI Honors College comes primarily from knowing and working with those students, starting from their first day of college and going through their final semester as senior capstone students.  

I work directly with dozens of Honors College students each year in research-based labs, and with many students who become peer mentors and leaders for my course and other courses in science and related disciplines. It is inspiring to see their dedication and creativity as they help other students on their journey to success.  

I also advise several student organizations in which many of the executive positions are led by Honors College students, and I have seen many of our students recognized for their unique contributions to improve campus life and build community.

Working with this hard-working, talented group of young leaders and scholars is truly one of the joys of being a faculty member at IUPUI.

Kathleen A. Marrs

Q. What have you learned throughout your career that will help you grow the IUPUI Honors College?

A. I have spent my career focused on undergraduate student success as a faculty member and as an associate dean, helping students to have a successful first year of college, and move into leadership positions, community engagement, and research opportunities as they advance towards graduation and a future career.

I have learned that a key to planning for growth of successful programs is to start with good questions, followed by careful analysis: How do we define student success? How do we define a successful Honors College experience at IUPUI in 2021 and beyond? 

By continuing to develop student skills and identity and build community engagement, leadership development, and global citizenship, I look forward to seeing the Honors College grow significantly in the next few years, not just in overall numbers, but also in the diversity of experience, thought, and opportunity that comes from their academic and co-curricular experiences at IUPUI. 

The IUPUI Honors College challenges high-ability students from diverse backgrounds and all academic disciplines to strengthen and enrich their university education and supports them in their success.