Honors professor builds connections with students in and outside of the classroom

November 10, 2020

Honors professor of humanities Dr. Dan Williams’ work with the College (then the Honors Program) began in the early 2000s when he worked to schedule Honors courses with Dr. Peggy Watson (the director of the Honors Program from 2003 until 2009, when she became the founding dean). Though he worked closely with Watson for a number of years, he did not officially become a part of the College until 2012.

“Honors has been a wonderful home and refuge for me; I work with wonderful colleagues (who are equally as talented as my students) and I am always inspired to do everything I can to help Honors and be the best teacher I can be,” he reflected.

He holds a fondness for the students he has taught throughout the years and especially enjoys his interactions outside of the classroom. “Some of my best times are with students outside of class,” he noted.

Students in Williams’ Fall 2018 Treks & Texts course pose for a photo before canoeing on the Trinity River.

In his Treks and Texts course for instance, he takes his students canoeing on the Trinity River. “You get to know students a different way,” he said. “They [in turn] get to know you as a person and not an authority figure who’s “lecturing” them. It breaks down the barriers to get to know students personally and I find that quite rewarding.”

In addition to his work with Honors, Williams also serves as the director of the TCU Press. In fact, it was his work with the Press that resulted in an invitation to become a part of Honors.

He recalls that after he and Dr. Leo Munson started a large oral history project to capture TCU memories of administrators, faculty and staff, he wondered if he could involve students in the venture. His idea resulted in the creation of seven Honors courses (one offered each year from 2011 to 2017), which tasked students with interviewing, conducting research and collecting snippets of TCU history. In return for their work, the students would be listed as assistant editors.

Dr. Williams in his office at the TCU Press.

The courses have produced multiple published and forthcoming works, including Celebrating Fifty Years of Achievement – Honors at TCU (2019) as well as a book on the experience of veterans at TCU (to be released on Veterans Day 2020) and Vision and Leadership (tentative title, scheduled for publication in 2023), which will tell the story of TCU’s transition in the past 50 years from a small regional university to a robust nationally-recognized institution.

“I have had a wonderful experience [in Honors] and I am extremely grateful,” Williams reflects as he looks forward to continued collaborations and experiences with Honors.

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