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Prof. Ken Menkhaus

Prof. Ken Menkhaus advising a studentProfessor of Political Science

Why did you apply to be an adviser?
First- and second-year students often need support and guidance on everything from adjusting to college life to managing the workload to choosing a major. Professors being there for students is what Davidson is all about.

How have your personal and professional experiences prepared you for your role as an adviser?
My role as a father of three gives me plenty of empathy for young people; my 25 years teaching at Davidson has given me a pretty comprehensive view of the full range of issues students can face; my engagement in the policy world gives me a good position to help with career-planning and internships; and my work in peace operations and war zones in tough parts of the world gives me a bit of a capacity (I hope!) to keep everything in perspective.

What was your favorite campus event last year, and why?
No question, our daylong celebration of the amazing teaching career of Professor Emeritus of Political Science Lou Ortmayer, who retired in May. All the warm wishes from alums and the return to campus of so many old friends and former students of Lou's was a great reminder of the impact a good teacher can have on so many people.

Tell us about a mentor/someone who was important to your success when you were a student.
I had a religion professor, Dr. Paul Knitter, who completely changed the way I saw the world, both by exposing me to so many new ideas and by teaching using the Socratic method so effectively, drawing all of us in and helping us to teach ourselves without even realizing it.

What advice would you give yourself as a college first-year student?
Relax! You'll find great friends, you'll get the coursework done. Be there for others who might need a shoulder. You're not the only one new to college life here.