Hill Takes Reins of University Studies Program

Dr. Hamner Hill, chair of the Department of Political Science, Philosophy and Religion at Southeast Missouri State University, has been named the new director of the University Studies program at Southeast Missouri State University.

Hill replaces Dr. Wayne Bowen, who left Southeast this summer to take a new position at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Hill is responsible for guiding the ongoing development of the University Studies program as part of Southeast’s priorities to improve retention and degree completion.

Hill has served at Southeast since 1986 where he is also a professor of philosophy and religion. His research interests are in philosophy of law and social/political philosophy, applied ethics and symbolic logic. He holds doctoral and master’s degrees from Washington University, a law degree from Marshall-Wythe School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts from the College of William and Mary.

Hill said he chose Southeast over other tenure track job offers because of Southeast’s University Studies program.

“I am deeply committed to the idea of general education/liberal arts and its role in public higher education,” he said. “One part of the mission of public colleges and universities is to help prepare students to participate more effectively as citizens. University Studies (general education) is essential to addressing this part of our mission. We seek to help students gain the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind needed to be effective citizens in a complex society.”

Dr. Karl Kunkel, Southeast provost, said, “I am very pleased that Hamner Hill accepted my offer to become the next director of University Studies. Dr. Hill has a long history as a member of the philosophy faculty and department chair at Southeast.  During conversations I’ve had with him, he clearly understands the societal need for generally educated persons in a vibrant democracy balanced with the role of University Studies preparing students with the basic skills and perspectives necessary for successful careers.

“Hamner is excellent at working with others to build consensus,” Kunkel continued, “which is vital at this point when we are examining and revising our University Studies program while also conforming with the state-level transfer matrix stipulated by Missouri law.”

Challenges for this year, Hill said, are to address new state legislative requirements concerning general education and transfer of credits between public institutions in Missouri.  In June 2016, then Gov. Jay Nixon signed into law Senate Bill 997, which requires Missouri’s two- and four-year public colleges and universities to collaborate on a 42-credit hour general education equivalency matrix, so courses taken anywhere within this system will count if a student transfers. This change was intended to make transferring general education credits between institutions simpler and more consistent for students, as well as more predictable for schools.

“All of the state two- and four-year public institutions are working towards a consistent, fully transferable general education block,” he said. “That is our biggest challenge for the year.”