Freshman Honors Colloquium Professor Focuses on Leadership in Literature Through Remote Learning

Freshman Honors Colloquium Professor Dirk Remley
Dirk Remley has been with Kent State University since 1990. 

Remley graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. He continued his studies at Bowling Green State University by earning his Masters of Arts in English Literature. He then completed his Ph.D. in rhetoric and composition from Kent State University.

Prior to becoming a professor at Kent State University, Remley worked in retail at a department store following his graduation from college. He then worked in public relations during his graduate studies at Bowling Green State University. He has also worked as a marketing consultant.

“The theme of my section is ‘leadership in literature; characters and characteristics,’” Remley said, on the subject of his Freshman Honors Colloquium section.

Students in Remley’s Freshman Honors Colloquium course learn about the characteristics attributed to leaders and assess how certain characters in literature demonstrate these traits and characteristics. They also focus situationally on why a character is or is not able to demonstrate these characteristics. Their final project in the spring semester is either a leadership self-assessment or creative work.

In the Fall semester, students read Antigone, The Secret Sharer, Major Barbara, and The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit. They also look at some shorter reading selections, looking at leadership traits. In the Spring semester, the texts include To Kill a Mockingbird, Saving Private Ryan, Dead Poets Society, Hidden Figures, and a few others.

Remley’s favorite part about being a professor for the Kent State Honors College is watching students learn and discover traits associated with leadership that they may have never thought about before. He also finds it intriguing to watch them see how these characteristics fit into their own potential and development as leaders.

“I, also, like facilitating student-led discussions about works of literature. Students find that leading discussion can be challenging,” Remley said. He finds that when students lead discussions themselves, they can use their research and planning to create debate and dynamic discussion among their peers.

Remley’s favorite aspect of teaching is watching his students grow or learn something new that will lead to their development further intellectually or professionally. “I fell into teaching; or it fell into me,” Remley said.

While taking graduate business courses at Kent State University, Remley was invited to work as a summer research assistant for a business professor. He met an assistant from the Department of English, who mentioned they needed a technical writing instructor. Remley had taken a course in technical writing during his Masters work and was encouraged to apply. He followed up on the opportunity and by the next day he was filling out employment papers to teach part time.

“Reflecting on both ‘teaching’ and ‘learning,’ I have always supported the adage that one’s education is what they make of it,” Remley said when stating the most important lesson he has learned from teaching. He believes education is a two-way street, students must also put in the work to discover a class’s relevance. 

Remley attempts to offer an assignment in his class that allows students to research a product or a topic that interests them and applies to their development. He does this in an attempt to allow students to find that relevance for themselves. This lets students choose something related to their chosen career path or their life in general.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Remley has had to shift all face-to-face interaction to online. He says his students have adjusted well and many still actively participate in virtual discussion meetings. He has not taught in-person since the pandemic began.

Remley is involved in a few professional organizations connected to college-level English and business communication.

When asked what advice he would give to his college aged self, Remley stated not to change your major if you struggle in the introductory level courses for that subject area. “Don’t let the ‘introduction to the field’ or ‘general [subject]’ course weed you out of the field or intimidate you,” Remley said.

The content learned in those courses applies to the field, but some of it may not be relevant to a student’s specific career, Remley states. The upper-division courses are what become more focused and specific. Remley believes students should not give up before they have made it to those specific courses that are more applicable to their chosen career paths.




PHOTO CAPTION 1: Dirk Remley, Honors Freshman Colloquium Professor. Photo courtesy of http://www.personal.kent.edu/~dremley 

Media Contact: Stephanie Moskal, smoskal@kent.edu, 330-672-2312




POSTED: Monday, April 19, 2021 04:31 PM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 02:41 PM
Alex Jones, Kent State University Honors College Intern