Dr. Phil Barker has been appointed as the new director of Keene State’s Morris-August Honors Program, according to an email sent to all faculty on April 24.

Although currently serving as Political Science department chair, Barker said he will be stepping down to focus his attention on the honors program. 

“We want to make sure that our political science students are getting the classes they need as well and so… to not pull me out of the classroom too much, I’ll take on the honor’s duties and [Dr. Mike Welsh] will take over as chair of the political science program,” Barker said.

Welsh currently serves as the assistant dean of the School of Social Sciences and Humanities for the past five years and said that he was excited to take over Barker’s position of department chair. 

“I always intended to go back to the classroom, I’m pretty excited about it… One thing about the assistant dean role, which is the one that I have been in, is that it’s actually still part of faculty… one of the tasks of being assistant dean is to continue to teach classes,” Welsh said. “I’ve never been completely out of the classroom, I just haven’t been teaching as much as I normally would if I was full-time faculty.” 

Welsh added, “I really do enjoy the classroom and I think that there’s a good cohort of political science and legal studies students that I’m looking forward to teaching [to] and that’s the strongest pull for me, but I’m not pushed away from this position at all.”

Barker said that the responsibilities of being director include organizing classes offered to honors students and even recruiting potential students for the program.

“I basically become the administrator for the honors program so I’m involved in recruiting students with coordinating classes that are offered, recruiting faculty to teach in the honors program, [and] I oversee the budget,” Barker said.  

Barker added, “There’s over a hundred students in the honors program at any given time and if they have questions about the program or making their way towards a degree, I meet with them… It’s nice I get to interact with these really talented, bright, motivated students.” 

Barker said he wants to use his role as director of the honors program to support students and supply them with new opportunities. 

“My first step is really just to talk to people, I’ve been talking to students, I’ve been talking to faculty who teach within the program, trying to get a sense of what they currently think works well,” Barker said. “ I would like to offer some more opportunities… I would like to do a little bit more of [student trips] to build unity of the honors program; I think it has been hard on a lot of students who are isolated and if I can sort of help honor students to feel like they have a cohort at the school that would be one of my goals.”


Nicole Dumont can be contacted at 


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