Kathleen Hutnik '84
Kathleen Hutnik ’84, Ph.D., director of Graduate Student Life, was the featured speaker at this year’s Honors Convocation on April 22 in Packer Memorial Church.
During the event, Lehigh students were honored for outstanding academic achievement. Recipients of academic awards, as well as juniors and seniors with a 3.5 cumulative GPA as of December 2006, were recognized.
The speech by Hutnik, who graduated cum laude from Lehigh with a degree in English, really seemed to inspire this year’s honorees.
“I urged these students to stretch beyond where they thought they could go—that there will be missteps as well as steps forward, but to pay attention to what does and doesn’t fit them,” said Hutnik. “Don’t waste time putting a lot of time and effort into something that doesn’t fit. They’ll soar when they put time and energy into endeavors that do fit.”
Hutnik certainly embodies that philosophy.
A pivotal part of her education occurred during her junior year abroad at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, where her desire for knowledge of other countries and cultures was awakened. Upon graduation, Hutnik briefly worked for Chubb Insurance in operations, but her wanderlust led her to Japan for two years where she taught English as a second language and took the opportunity to travel to Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong and extensively throughout Japan.
In Japan, Hutnik taught everyone from housewives to business men to small children, and this experience confirmed for her that education would be her vocation. After her stint in Japan, Kathleen enrolled in a Ph.D. program in English and Composition at Indiana University.
During her graduate years, Hutnik served as a consultant to new teaching assistants, was integral to redesigning the freshman composition curriculum for 9,000 undergraduates, and was involved in teaching and designing an intensive summer program for incoming first-generation college students, many of whom were from minority populations.
During the graduate school era, Hutnik got married, gave birth to two sons, and finally, to a doctorate. Hutnik spent the better part of the next several years focusing on raising her sons, while working as an adjunct instructor at DeSales University. She returned to Lehigh in 2001 as the Assistant Director in Academic Support Services within the Dean of Students Office where her primary responsibilities involved working as a writing specialist to students with learning disabilities and advising the Peer Mentor Program for students with disabilities and ADHD.
With a colleague in the Office of First-Year Experience, Hutnik initiated and co-directed the Summer Reading Program designed to contribute to the integration of academic and student life. She has served as the Student Affairs representative to the Study Abroad Faculty Advisory Board and has assisted with the International Bazaar. In 2003, Hutnik won Lehigh’s “Tradition of Excellence” Award for her assistance to international graduate student spouses.
Hutnik was recently promoted to director of Graduate Student Life in January, 2007 where she works with both the students and the university leadership to help improve the lives of graduate students.
In this role, Hutnik wears many hats—advising the Graduate Student Senate, helping to craft policy to ensure equitable treatment, and developing programs that will assist women (particularly in the sciences) as well as international graduate students and their families.