Dr. Teagan Decker has been named dean of the Esther G. Maynor Honors College at UNC Pembroke.
Decker, an associate professor of English, has served as interim dean since July 2019. Prior to that, she was assistant dean of the Honors College, a position she held for four years. Decker was chosen following a national search. Her appointment was approved last week by the Board of Trustees.
“I am very excited for this opportunity,” Decker said. “I’ve been working with the Honors College for a long time, both as the assistant dean and as a faculty member. I’ve been teaching honors college courses since 2009. I know the program really well, so I have a good sense of how to continue to move it forward.”
“The Esther G. Maynor Honors College attracts top students to UNCP through not only rigorous academics, but programs that enrich their college experience and engages them in their campus community, importantly within the first-year,” said Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings.
“As UNCP looks ahead to the next five years, the Honors College has been identified as one of the key areas to build. Dr. Decker’s vision for the college combined with the solid foundation already in place, sets the stage for tremendous growth over the next few years.”
Established in 2001, the Esther G. Maynor Honors College was named following an estate gift of $1.25 million from its namesake. The endowment provides scholarships and international study support for Honors College students. In an atmosphere that is both academically and personally stimulating, students are afforded the opportunity to experience interdisciplinary seminars and discipline-specific honors courses taught by distinguished faculty members. Honors students also gain a sense of community through shared residential facilities as well as cultural and service learning programs.
“Students take certain courses together so they are able to form a close community and support one another,” Decker said. “They are able to interact really closely with faculty in small seminar-style courses, and they get to choose a faculty mentor to work with during their senior project. There are also various social bonding events and academic events throughout the year.”
The Honors College, which boasts 265 students, has grown significantly in recent years in both numbers and academic standing of students. Since 2012, enrollment has increased by 160 students. Decker said about 80 students will be a part of the incoming class for the upcoming fall semester. The number of honors courses has also grown over the years, including a new honors version of freshman seminar.
Dr. Decker will continue to teach an honors course each semester, with the majority of her time devoted to administration of the college.
A native of Healdsburg, California, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in literature and a master’s in teaching writing from Humboldt State University. She holds a Ph.D. in language and rhetoric from the University of Washington, Seattle. She joined the UNCP faculty in 2007 and served as director of the writing center for many years.
Dr. Decker has presented several conference papers on service-learning, and works to promote community-oriented education in her own classes and across campus. Her most recent publication is the co-edited collection Writing in and about the Performing and Visual Arts: Creating, Performing, and Teaching.
Decker said she is looking to establish a peer mentoring program within the Honors College. Additionally, more efforts will be focused on preparing students for post-graduation, such as applying for graduate school.
“We want to have a strong peer mentoring program and also to prepare students better for what comes after graduation. We also hope to offer a senior stipend to help students with test preparation and other costs of preparing for graduate school and careers.”
Provost David Ward said he’s confident that Decker, whom he described as a true scholar and valued faculty member, will do an outstanding job leading the Honors College into the future.
“Decker has worked over the last five years to help build the Honors College enrollment to record numbers, including the largest graduating class in its history slated for May,” Ward said. “In addition, Dr. Decker has played a key role building and sustaining an honors curriculum and experience that continues to be second to none.”