Staff and Advisors

Dean Ralph Keen

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.

Dean Stacie McCloud Williams

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 student records.

Anthony Keevan

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,

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

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

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

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

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

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 enrichment programming.

Julio Chavarria

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.