Ralph Keen, Dean of Honors College
Ralph Keen, Dean of the Honors College (2015-16), was a classics major as an undergraduate and received his PhD in the history of Christianity.
Before he came to UIC in 2010 as professor of history and Schmitt Chair in Catholic Studies, he taught in the Religious Studies department at the
University of Iowa, where he was also Director of Undergraduate Studies and Honors Advisor (as well as supervisor of dozens of senior research
projects). He has also been a visiting professor at Harvard Divinity School.
Honors mentoring, he feels, calls for allowing oneself to be challenged and stimulated by a student’s plans. What’s your dream? How far do you
want to go? A good advisor and teacher listens to the Honors College student and guides that person on a path toward realizing that goal. All our
students, Keen feels, are impressive on paper and in person; but it’s when working with them that they inspire their professors. The best students
bring out the best efforts in those lucky enough to work with them. Mr. Keen sees his job as making those productive relationships possible.
Stacie McCloud Williams, Associate Dean
Dean McCloud Williams has been working in the Honors College since 1992 after completing her degree in education. She went on to complete her Master’s
degree in teaching of mathematics in 1995. She works with students throughout their entire time in the Honors College, beginning with admission, serving
as an academic advisor, and coordinating the graduation convocation. Dean McCloud Williams also works on planning Honors College courses, and maintaining
Sloan Williams, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Dean Williams is a biological anthropologist who uses genetic and osteological analyses to study prehistory in East Africa and the Andes. She is an
Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and an Adjunct Curator at the Field Museum. Professor Williams was a visiting Associate Dean in
the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for four years where she oversaw the LASURI program. She won the Silver Circle teaching award in 2013 and has
mentored and supervised capstone projects for many of our students since she became a Fellow in 2005. Her duties include course programming, working
with the Faculty Fellows and overseeing the Capstone experience.
Anthony Keevan, Assistant Dean of Administration
Anthony earned a BA in Information Technology from Tulane University and a MBA from the University of Hartford. Prior to joining the Honors College he
worked at Tufts University as a Manager and Director of Administration. At the University of Hartford he was the Director of Institutional Research. Anthony
oversees financial and business operations by planning, organizing and directing the operations of the College.
Tyler Nielsen, Program Assistant
As an alumnus of both UIC and the Honors College, Tyler could not be happier to return to his alma mater! After graduating in 2012 with a BFA in Performance
from the School of Theatre & Music, Tyler began his professional career at the Honors College transitioning from a student employment position to a
full-time member of the Operations team. In parallel with his work at the Honors College, Tyler also helped to co-found Realize Theatre Group (RTG), with the
focus of creating necessary and challenging work that speaks, on a visceral level, to Chicago audiences about issues relevant to local communities. In the
four years since graduating, Tyler has also worked extensively with Prop Thtr, one of Chicago’s oldest surviving storefront theatres, satisfying his undying
need to always be on and around the stage. Returning to UIC from 2.5 years in the corporate world, Tyler is proud to be the Program Assistant and looks forward
to working closely with students, staff and faculty alike to ensure the best possible experience for all those who interact with the Honors College.
Eliza Callahan, Academic Advisor and Program Specialist
Eliza joined the Honors College in the Fall of 2010. Prior to moving to Chicago in May 2010, she lived in the Washington, D.C. area and worked in the
Department of Nursing at Georgetown University. She received her Master’s in Higher Education Administration from George Washington University and her B.A. in
Anthropology from McGill University. Eliza works with the Associate Deans for Academic Affairs regarding the Honors College course schedule, the Capstone
requirement, and the Faculty Fellows program. In addition, she advises students, administers the Honors College scholarships, and develops the Alumni Mentoring Program.
Nikki Gottleib, Academic Advisor and Program Specialist
Nikki joined the Honors College staff in the fall of 2016, and advises students, teaches in HON 101, and creates programming around leadership and service.
She completed her B.A. in Communications and Theatre & Drama at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her M.Ed. in Higher Education at Loyola University
Chicago. Nikki grew up in Wisconsin, but has been in Chicago since 2008 and has worked at Loyola, the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, the
Illinois Institute of Technology, and in the virtual world at Kaplan University. On the side, she freelances as an event coordinator and you can sometimes find
her on a trolley during the holiday season, leading tours around the city. Nikki is an avid theatre fan, a big reader and book collector, obsessed with her dog,
and often retains too much knowledge of pop culture.
Sara Mehta, Academic Advisor and Program Specialist
Sara advises students, instructs the Honors 101 first-year experience course, and handles the communication efforts for the Honors College, including the
Honors College Announcements, the Handbook, and the Facebook page. She is also the liaison for The Ampersand, a student newsletter. Sara joined the Honors
College staff in the Spring of 2013. Prior to coming to UIC, Sara worked with service-learning programs at Saint Xavier University and at the University of
Michigan. Originally from southern Illinois, she earned a B.A. in International Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an M.A. in Higher
Education from the University of Michigan.
Stephanie O’Leary, Academic Advisor and Program Specialist
Stephanie hails from Zanesville, Ohio and joined the Honors College in August 2013 after moving to the Chicago area. She completed her B.A. in Anthropology from the
University of Notre Dame and her Ed.M. in Higher Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Prior to joining the Honors College advising staff
at UIC, Stephanie worked as an academic advisor at UIUC and McHenry County College in Crystal Lake, Illinois. In addition to advising students and teaching HON 101,
Stephanie develops initiatives related to career development and pre-professional preparation. In her spare time, she loves cooking with her husband and friends and is
always on the lookout for new recipes to try.
José Meléndez, Postdoctoral Fellow in Teaching and Mentoring
José W. Meléndez received his doctorate from the Learning Sciences program at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), with a co-discipline in Urban Planning and
Policy. His research focuses on the interrelation between the environment, participants, and language and how each of these components works to facilitate civic education
and learning in democratic activity. As an interdisciplinary scholar, Dr. Meléndez’ novel use of qualitative methods in his research pushes the boundaries of theory and
concept building in the areas of civic engagement, learning, and participation.
Dr. Meléndez’ current work and research is influenced by his previous work and scholarly experiences, seeking to combine theoretical and practical solutions for
community development settings. Dr. Meléndez received his B.A. from Oberlin College and his M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from UIC. He has worked in the public
health and education sectors in Washington, DC and Chicago.
In his position as a Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Meléndez teaches freshman core classes and & advanced seminars, in addition to providing general academic and Honors
Capstone advising. Lastly, Dr. Meléndez is the Co-Director of the Chicago Signature Honors Programming initiative, which involves developing and leading cultural
Brianna Noll, Postdoctoral Fellow in Teaching and Mentoring.
Brianna Noll received her Ph.D. in English from the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She specializes in creative writing, with poetry as her
primary genre, and her research interests include: the history and theory of lyric poetry, lyric subjectivity, literary figuration, utopian literature, speculative
literature, and the relation between poetic form and politics. Her current research examines the role of poetry, nostalgia, and collectivity in the history of
Dr. Noll’s first book of poetry, Flavor Is the Price of Scarlet, was the inaugural poetry selection for the University Press of Kentucky’s Contemporary Poetry and Prose
Series and is forthcoming in Spring 2017. Her poems and book reviews have appeared in The Georgia Review, the Kenyon Review Online, The Missouri Review, Ninth Letter,
Passages North, and the American Book Review, among other journals.
In her position as a Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Noll teaches freshman core classes and the Honors Freshman Seminar, advises a cohort of honors students, and co-directs
the Chicago Signature Honors Programming.
Julio Chavarria, IT Technical Associate
Julio is a UIC alum with a Bachelors in Computer Engineering. Prior to joining the Honors College he was the Network Analyst for UIC’s Great Lakes ADA Center. As the IT
Technical Associate, Julio manages the daily operations of the IT office for the Honors College and assesses all aspects of the IT infrastructure to identify opportunities
for improvement and efficiency. This includes databases, the computer lab, backup/restore functions, etc. As the College’s webmaster, Julio also makes technical additions
and changes to the college’s website to ensure that all constituents have up-to-date information at their fingertips.