Ed McKenna expands teaching beyond the classroom

Written by Ted Weeks

“The more positions I can be in where I positively impact college students, the better,” said MSU administrator, instructor and Ph.D. student Ed McKenna. A graduate of Salve Regina University with a bachelor in english literature, McKenna currently is completing his doctorate in higher education administration. He has dedicated the majority of his adult life to the academic world, especially at Montana State.

A tall man with a cheery demeanor, McKenna speaks with a level of enthusiasm one would not expect from such a busy educator and administrator. He shows this enthusiasm for education not only in the college writing classes he teaches full time, but also as a faculty advisor for MSU’s rugby club and as the newly-instated assistant dean for student conduct.

McKenna came to MSU on a whim, inspired by a Mary Oliver poem called “The Journey”, to quit his job at a Massachusetts publishing house to reenter the academic world. He enrolled in the graduate english program and began teaching at Gallatin College, then known as the Great Falls College of Technology. McKenna has since transitioned to teaching college writing one and two full time at MSU, where he uses his knowledge of the english language and passion for education to inspire students to better themselves as writers. He “loves empowering students through writing,” and successfully does this as a writing instructor.

Being heavily involved with the rugby team has allowed McKenna to influence students outside of the classroom as well. He helped grow the team from an unaffiliated club into the college club that Brandon Marsh, another founder, envisioned. Currently McKenna helps coach both the mens and womens clubs, uses his English background to assist the team with communications, and helps players understand the role of of the university in their lives, especially regarding student conduct and discipline.

He enjoys becoming a part of students lives and impacting them in a positive way. “Relationships with students that I form have been the most rewarding, and that’s continuous,” he said, speaking of his close involvement with his players as well as with students he meets in the classroom and dean of students office.

This year brings some change to McKenna’s role as an educator and administrator at MSU as he takes over the role of assistant dean for student conduct. In the past McKenna has served as a conduct officer for the dean’s office, and this is another step in his mission to educate and better the students of MSU.

McKenna believes that although the greater work load might weigh him down more than in the past, the enjoyment he gets from being able to help students both in the classroom and as an administrator makes it all worthwhile.

When asked about his future at MSU, the multi-faceted educator replied, “I love this position, but I also love teaching so hopefully something doesn’t have to give,” speaking of his new position in the dean’s office. “For me, teaching is amazing” Mckenna added.