University Letter

UND's faculty and staff newsletter

Merie Kirby named director of Honors Program

Merie Kirby has been appointed to the position of director of the Honors Program at UND.

The appointment was made by Karyn Plumm, UND’s vice provost of undergraduate studies and student success. Kirby has been with the UND Honors Program since 2012, most recently as a teaching associate professor. In that capacity, she has taught a wide range of multidisciplinary Honors courses, supervised senior projects for the program, and led student editors in the creation of an Honors undergraduate journal. Her start date as the new director will be Dec. 16.

“I am thrilled that Merie Kirby will continue her work with the Honors Program in the role of director,” Plumm said. “Her commitment to the program for more than a decade combined with her vision for where the program can take the next generation of students is exciting. I also want to thank Michael Dodge for overseeing the program as interim director while the search was conducted.”

Kirby expressed her enthusiasm to assume the leadership role.

“I’ve been a part of the Honors Program for several years, and I am excited both to carry on the good work we’ve been doing, and to help Honors grow in new directions,” she said.

“In our students, our campus, our community, our region, and our state, we have such a tremendous store of talent, knowledge, and ambition; harnessing as much of this as possible is a wonderful challenge. It’s a challenge I look forward to, and I feel lucky to work with people – faculty and staff – who are also ready to take Honors into the next era.”

As director, Kirby will provide vision and leadership for the Honors Program and advocate for excellence in education for all Honors students at UND. She will collaborate with academic units in the development and creation of Honors courses and work closely with faculty, staff, and advisors to inspire innovative thesis projects and campus-wide understanding of the program.

In addition, Kirby will help develop strategic initiatives and promote innovation within Honors Program admissions and curriculum while ensuring its academic quality and integrity.

The Honors Program at UND was established in 1961, with a mission “to encourage, to challenge and to press the gifted undergraduate toward genuine academic accomplishment and the realization that education is a continuing process.” In the past six decades, the Honors Program has become a vital part of the academic culture at the University of North Dakota and has grown in scale and impact to represent all colleges and a wide variety of majors.

Kirby attended the University of California, Santa Barbara’s College of Creative Studies, graduating with a B.A. in Literature. She earned her terminal degree, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing (Poetry), from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She is the author of “The Dog Runs On” (2014) and “The Thumbelina Poems” (2015).

She has twice received the North Dakota Council on the Arts Individual Artist Grant. Her poems have been published in several literary journals, and she has collaborated with composers on both operas and art songs.

Prior to UND, Kirby taught at the University of St. Thomas and worked in the private sector as both a technical writer/editor and marketing communications manager for the North American subsidiary of a German photoelectric sensor engineering company.