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Carrie Preston is a scholar who blends academia and activism—one of her class assignments led to the creation of BU’s Sexual Assault Response & Prevention Center. As the second director of Kilachand Honors College, a post she assumed on January 1, she’ll have a chance to further inspire some of BU’s best student minds.
Preston succeeds founding director Charles Dellheim, who has led the school since 2011. She will also become the Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand Professor, a professorship Dellheim has held as founding director. The honors college offers a rigorous four-year curriculum for some of the University’s highest performing students.
Dellheim, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of history, will remain a BU faculty member.
“I hope to build on the existing strengths of Kilachand as a residential learning community offering energetic, high-achieving students the opportunity to enhance their already excellent undergraduate experience at BU,” says Preston, a CAS associate professor of English and a former director of the Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program at CAS.
To realize that vision during the director’s four-year term will require pushing the borders of both academic disciplines and the campus, she says.
“I hope to develop a curriculum that attends to issues of diversity and multiplicity, prejudice and power, in a global context,” Preston says. “Each course should delve deeply into its topic, while encouraging students to engage the broader and crucial questions that face our society—questions of what it means to live a good life and the cultural transformation necessary to allow all human beings to live one. I hope that Kilachand might contribute to helping Boston University more generally engage those huge questions.
“To reach my larger ambitions for Kilachand, I initially want to move the college in two directions,” she continues. One will integrate Kilachand more with the University through the college’s participation in the BU Hub, the first University-wide general education initiative, set to launch with the incoming freshman class in 2018. The Hub will ensure that every BU undergraduate develops a set of academic, citizenship, and life skills.
Preston’s second direction veers off campus. “I would like to integrate Kilachand into the city of Boston, using the energy and vision of its students and faculty to improve our communities,” she says. “Our projects might take up inequality, climate change, city infrastructure, education, or other challenges that could only be tackled with an interdisciplinary perspective and tremendous creativity—the hallmarks of Kilachand.”
Preston has won several BU awards, including a Peter Paul Career Development Professorship, the CAS Wisneski Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the University’s United Methodist Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award. She received the national de la Torre Bueno Prize, given to a dance studies book, for Modernism’s Mythic Pose: Gender, Genre, Solo Performance (Oxford University Press, 2011).
She earned a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and master’s and doctoral degrees from Rutgers. Her research and teaching areas span from modernist literature, dance, and performance to feminist, queer, and postcolonial studies. Her latest book is Learning to Kneel: Noh, Modernism, and Journeys in Teaching (Columbia University Press).
Trustee Rajen Kilachand (Questrom’74, Hon.’14) established the college, named for his parents, Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand, with a $25 million gift in 2011 and another gift of $10 million in 2012 provided a residence, Kilachand Hall, for the college’s students. Students in the program are admitted as entering freshmen while enrolling in one of BU’s undergraduate schools, taking one-quarter of their credits through Kilachand.