Over the last three-plus decades, Dr. Kevin Koch has been synonymous with the Loras College English and Language Department. He’s been a mainstay in Hoffmann Hall, serving as a professor for the last 33 years and as the Department/Division Chair for the past 23 years. After this year however, Koch will be stepping down as division chair.
“Dr. Koch has become a professor that students can turn to for advice, guidance and interesting classes,” said senior Hannah Way. “He is passionate about what he does and it shows in and out of the classroom.”
Though he will no longer serve as the Division Chair, Koch will remain at Loras as an English professor. He listed a few main reasons that led to his decision to step down.
“Over the last few years, I’ve developed some new courses that I wouldn’t get to teach in regular rotation as the Division Chair,” Koch said. “Another reason is that I’ve got a new writing project that I’d like to get started on. There’s a fair amount of summer work as a Division Chair, so I’ll be able to get some writing time back that I’m looking forward to. The third reason is that we’ve got some good younger faculty and it’s a good time for them to step into the position.”
Dr. Koch is a 1981 graduate of the English program himself. Since that time, Koch has been a first-hand witness to the growth of the department.
“Some of the key things that are different are the courses,” said Koch. “We’ve developed the Irish Studies program with Dr. Auge. I’ve developed courses myself in Nature Writing. Bill Jablonsky has developed coursework in Screen Writing and Fantastic Fiction. We have several new things that have all been good additions to the department.”
Over the last 23 years, Koch said that one of the biggest challenges has been fighting the stigma that comes with being an English major.
“It’s a frustration of mine that the stigma exists in our culture,” he said. “I think the reason it exists is that culture tends to thinks if you’re ‘this’ major it means you’re preparing for ‘this’ job. It works that way for some things. Most accounting majors become accountants. Most nursing students become nurses. But with humanities it doesn’t work that way. Our graduates go in a lot of different directions and have success in a multitude of different fields. But it’s hard to get society to realize that sometimes.”
Koch’s successor has been chosen, though their name has not been officially announced at this time. The successor has big shoes to fill, though Koch provided one piece of advice.
“My advice would be to spend a lot of time listening,” he said. “It’s important to understand what students’ needs are and to understand the goals of the faculty and their individual approaches to teaching. Listening is certainly a very important aspect of the position.”
Koch’s successor is expected to be announced later this year.