Centre News

Matthew R. Klooster selected as Director of Community Service and the Bonner Program at Centre College

May 30, 2013 By Michael Strysick        
Matt Klooster
“I have been a long-time beneficiary
and believer in the power of outreach
and community service,” said Matt
Klooster, director of community service
and the Bonner Program at Centre.

After serving for three years as an assistant professor of biology at Centre College, Matthew R. Klooster will soon transition to a new role on campus as director of community service and the Bonner Program. He begins his duties July 1.

Klooster will be a key member of the Student Life Office, overseeing the full range of volunteer and service activities for Centre students, more than 85 percent of whom volunteer on a regular basis. Klooster will also provide leadership for the Bonner Program at Centre, which is a network of 60 students on campus and thousands nationwide dedicated to alleviating poverty and improving education through active community service and civic engagement. Centre is one of 87 American colleges and universities that make up the National Bonner Program.

“We are very excited to have Matt join the Student Life Office,” said Randy Hays, vice president and dean of student life. “His enthusiasm for and dedication to our students here at the College made him the ideal candidate for this position. As educators 'outside the classroom,' we are pleased to have someone with Matt's 'inside the classroom' experience and reputation join our ranks. I know he will continue to make a positive difference in the lives of our students.”

A native of Mankato, Minn., Klooster earned his B.S. degree in biological science from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, graduating cum laude in 2003. From there, Klooster pursued his Ph.D. in biological sciences at the University of Cincinnati, completing his degree in 2008. He spent the next two years at Harvard University as a Mercer Postdoctoral Fellow in plant molecular ecology at the Arnold Arboretum and Harvard University Herbaria.

Since arriving at Centre in 2010, Klooster has taught courses in introductory biology, conservation biology, evolutionary genetics, and extinction, as well as three CentreTerm courses. In 2011, he taught a three-week January course on the Gulf oil spill, which he followed a year later with a course on cave ecology that featured a trip to Kentucky's Carter Caves to study cave formation and cave biology. This past January, Klooster led a trip to Malaysian Borneo for a course titled “Biodiversity and Conservation.” Stationed on Borneo (in the Malaysian state of Sarawak), the third-largest island and most bio-diverse region in the world, the class investigated how human growth has affected the landscape of the area.

In addition to creating interesting courses, Klooster is a distinguished researcher, with 10 peer-reviewed publications, eight funded grants, and numerous professional and invited presentations. In 2011, student members of the leadership honor society, Omicron Delta Kappa, voted Klooster their “Rookie of the Year,” and this year that same organization awarded Klooster its David F. Hughes Memorial Award for Outstanding Teaching and Service. Just this past month, prior to his new staff appointment, Klooster was also selected as a Centre Scholar, which honors excellence in teaching, scholarly work, and involvement in the College community.

Klooster anticipates a smooth transition from faculty to staff, though he will maintain faculty rank and teach one course per year.

“Although my academic background is in science,” Klooster said, “I have been a long-time beneficiary of and believer in the power of community outreach and service. As a high school student, I immersed myself in community outreach opportunities, including The Big Brothers Program; patient visitation and ministry in Cincinnati hospitals; a week-long service trip to Monticello, Ky.; holiday canned food drives; and weekly service at St. Francis Soup Kitchen in Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati.”

Klooster's additional volunteer activities include ministry work at a state correctional facility in St. Cloud, Minn., and as assistant director of the Summer Bridge Program at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, providing college preparatory courses for non-traditional students of low economic means from local public high schools. For his many efforts, Klooster received the Junior Volunteer of the State of Ohio Award in 1998.

While Klooster admits that he has much to learn about his new responsibilities, he's already excited about the possibilities for creative approaches. For instance, he plans to pursue unified initiatives among different offices on campus. To provide international community outreach opportunities, Klooster plans to work with the study abroad office. For faculty interested in promoting community outreach in their classes, he intends to work with Centre's VISTA volunteer and the Center for Teaching and Learning to pursue funding for community-based learning and civic engagement course opportunities. Klooster also wants to pursue service opportunities with a strong environmental or human-health-related focus.

Sarah Scott Hall, associate dean of student life and director of resident life, oversaw the search process and admits this type of outlook made Klooster a strong candidate.

“We are delighted to welcome Matt to the Student Life team,” Hall said. “He brings a wonderful blend of teaching, community service experience, and mentoring students to this important position. His creativity, passion, and commitment to student engagement and growth will no doubt be incredibly beneficial to our students as he takes on this new role.”

Klooster and his wife, Jennifer, live in Danville and are the proud parents of their newborn daughter, Evy.

Centre College, founded in 1819, is a nationally ranked liberal arts college in Danville, Ky. Centre hosted its second Vice Presidential Debate on 10.11.12, and remains the smallest college in the smallest town ever to host a general election debate. For more, click here.

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