Professor Loui: “I want to be Mickey Mouse when I grow up”

Emily Perhats (TheLorian)

The switch to COVID-19 protocols has been challenging for educators and students all across the educational spectrum, from pre-school to graduate school. Imagine starting your teaching career in the midst of these challenging times. For Dr. Kenny Loui, Loras College criminal justice professor, COVID-19 teaching is all he’s known at Loras as he began teaching here in the fall semester.

“My main objective was not to screw up and get fired on the first day. Six months later, I’m still here, so I must be doing something right,” Loui said. “But in all seriousness, my main objective when I first came to Loras was to get up to speed on the ins-and-outs of the college’s criminal justice program and figure out how I could contribute to enhancing our educational and experiential programs for our students.”

Loui, who earned his Ph.D. in criminal justice from Nova Southeastern University in Florida, arrived at Loras after spending a decade overseas. He lived in Japan for a year and then spent several years in South Korea. 

“(I) did my dissertation research on bullying prevention in Korea,” he said. “After graduation, I stuck around Korea for a few more years, working as a professor of police administration and international legal studies.”

Loui said he felt a desire to be closer to family so he began to look for jobs in the States. He was conducting his search when he saw an announcement for a criminal justice assistant professor position at Loras. Loui did a bit of research and discovered that this might be a great fit for him.

“I was really drawn to the college’s mission of cultivating active learners, reflective thinkers, ethical decision-makers, and responsible contributors,” he said. “That was a mission that I wanted to be a part of, so I decided to give it a shot and submitted my application. And now, here I am.”

In addition to starting his first semester of teaching at Loras under the less than ideal conditions that the pandemic wrought, Loui decided to initiate a campus chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma, the criminal justice honor society.

“I was actually awarded four different Alpha Phi Sigma scholarships back in the day,” he said. “If I can do it, so can the criminal justice students at Loras College, who I believe are way more capable and talented than I am.”

Loui believes that the honor society can do much more than simply provide academic and professional opportunities to students.

“I want our APS chapter be an organization that builds camaraderie and lifelong friendships among our criminal justice students, while motivating them to go out and make a difference in their communities—be it (on) the local, state, national, or global level,” he said.

Loui said that he is absolutely loving his new campus and Dubuque. He said that he knew during the interview process last year that this is where he wanted to be.

“(W)hen I received the phone call from Dr. Donna Heald telling me that I was offered the job at Loras, I immediately said yes!” he said.

 In elementary school, though, college professor wasn’t Loui’s first choice for a career when he grew up. One of his teachers asked the class what each student wanted to be when they grew up. Loui’s response surprised everyone. “Mickey Mouse!” he said. After the laughter in the room died down, his teacher asked him why.

“Because Mickey Mouse makes people smile. I want to make people smile,” the young Loui responded.

As many of the smiling students who are working with Professor Loui in class and APS can tell you, as it turns out, maybe Loui is Mickey Mouse after all.

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