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From Harvard to Bradley

Kelly McConnaughay has worked at Bradley for over 26 years. Photo by Veronica Blascoe.

The Bradley Core Curriculum dictates most Bradley student schedules, but little is known about the people behind it. One of these individuals is Kelly McConnaughay, senior associate dean of the college of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“It’s like a quarter of every student’s experience,” McConnaughay said. “So we wanted to make sure we got it right.”

Pat Campbell, supervisor of administration for the College of LAS, said she’s a great person for the job.

“She’s very student-oriented,” said Campbell. “And I think that comes from her first love, which is teaching … it’s been a pleasure to work with her for all these years.”

During her two and a half year design process, McConnaughay and her team sought input from faculty and students, as well as the Parents Board, the Employer’s Advisory Board and alumni. They consulted research and examined the systems of schools across the country.

“We really … turned over all the stones,” she said.

Prior to the development of the BCC, the General Education system had not been significantly updated in 30 years. McConnaughay decided to review it immediately upon her appointment as Dean, but took the time to familiarize herself with the system and the requirements.

“You don’t want to just change it because you can,” she said. “It just took some time … to look at the whole program from soup to nuts.”

The biggest upcoming change to the BCC is to affirm Bradley’s commitment to experiential learning, which requires students to graduate with internship experience, and will roll out as an official requirement in Fall 2019.

“It’s something we already do,” said McConnaughay. “For example, in political science [there is] an internship program and [the] opportunity to engage in undergraduate research … That’s the kind of thing that we are looking to make sure is available in every major.”

McConnaughay has been at Bradley for over 26 years, first as a biology teacher and now as Dean. She said she misses teaching, and even enjoyed reaching out to uninterested students.

“It’s nice to be able to help people appreciate how science does affect their daily lives,” McConnaughay said.

McConnaughay received her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois, and then at Harvard to earn her Ph.D.

“This size of school was unknown to me,” she said. “But I took a chance. I really loved teaching and I really loved research and I wanted a place where they were balanced … I wanted a place to work closely with students, and it seems like this was really that sweet spot.”

McConnaughay and her husband have two sons; both raised in Peoria, which she says she has mixed feelings about.

“I have this innate fondness for mountains and oceans,” she said. “So being in the center of the country doesn’t do anything for that.”

Still, she has no plans to leave anytime soon.

“I like the institution and the people here are remarkable. The students are great,” she said. “I can’t believe people pay me to do this.”

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The Scout is published by members of the student body of Bradley University. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the University.