20 Questions: A sketch of Centre chemistry professor Keith Dunn

RELEASED: Jan. 12, 2006

Dr. Dunn spends some time relaxing with sons Alex (left), six, and Drew, three
DANVILLE, KY— 1. Position/title: Chair, Division of Science and Mathematics/Associate Professor of Chemistry

2. Hometown: Born in Paducah, grew up in Florence, Ky.

3. Career highlight: Being chosen to give ODK life story and being honored as Delta Delta Delta Professor of the year. Also having a couple of students win research awards.

4. Signature class: Physical Chemistry

5. Recent publication/exhibition/performance: I gave an invited talk at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Washington, DC this summer. The talk was pretty far outside my field. It was in the "Computers in Chemistry" section. Anyone who knows my feelings on computers and technology should get a real kick out of that. I say at least twice a month that technology is inherently evil.

6. Family details: My wife Beth and I have been married for almost 15 years. We met while we were both at school at IU in Bloomington. We have 2 sons: Alex is six; Drew is three. Both kids go to the Montessori school in Danville.

7. Hobbies: Golf (although I don't get play that much), music (I love to play brass, especially trombone, and guitar). I spend as much time as I can with my boys and their activities. I'm happy to be involved with the community and the college outside of class-time, but don't ask me often to do much between the hours of 5 and 8 in the evening. I'm really jealous of that time with my boys.

8. Pets: We have an old dog (11 years) named Virgil. She was the runt of the litter at the pound and was headed for the gas chamber. We couldn't have that. We also have a really big, energetic 1.5-year-old Lab named Fitch (for Gerald Fitch). While purebreds are not really our thing, we took Fitch because he was headed to the pound. We intercepted his trip, and now he's part of the Dunn Clan. We also have a fish named Mac. He's the latest in a long line of Beta fish that live in a bowl on our dinner table.

9. Prized possession: I don't really like to prize possessions much, but I'd have to say my musical instruments are very special to me. I have six brass horns and a guitar. The guitar is really special because my mom and dad gave that to me as a college graduation present, and it really got me through graduate school. Somehow, when my dad died a few years ago, the guitar became much more special to me, sort of a place where his memories live. I'll never sell that guitar.

10. Last book read: I don't really read much. I know that doesn't sound very intellectual, but I don't. I really enjoyed the summer's reading, "The Four Spirits" and I'm currently reading a Patricia Cornwall book, "Southern Cross". I really did enjoy a couple of Dan Brown books, but it's been a while.

11. Memorable trip/vacation: Beth and I have been lucky enough to live in London twice in recent years. I ran the Centre-in-London program for the entire 97-98 academic year, and I spent six months on a sabbatical in 2001 in London. We love the city and had a great time with the football team this past summer. The kids and coaches were great, and they made the trip a real blast for us. Some of our favorite cities besides London include Istanbul, San Francisco and Budapest. We also really had a blast on the volcanoes trip to New Zealand a couple of years ago. Beth and I are really jealous of Conrad Shiba and Joe Workman. They get to go back for CentreTerm this year.

12. Favorite movie: Probably Monty Python's "Quest for the Holy Grail" or "It's a Wonderful Life." Although now a days my movie experiences are limited to "Finding Nemo" and the various Rugrats adventures.

13. Favorite album: Chicago's first two albums and their collection at Carnegie Hall were really classic fusion rock, very unlike Chicago's sort of tech pop of the last decade or so. I'm also a really big James Taylor fan.

14, Favorite food: I love everything with the exception of ham. I always try to get the most interesting thing on a menu. I particularly liked the river eel in Bruges.

15. Favorite smell: Steaks on the grill and bacon

16. Person you most admire: My mom and dad

17. Living figure you'd most like to meet: Tubby Smith. I'm a huge Cats fan, and I think he's an amazing coach

18. Historical figure you'd most like to meet: Galileo, Newton, Humphrey Davy, Einstein

19. What would you be doing if you weren't teaching at Centre: I think I'd probably try to make it as a musician or maybe selling real estate with Beth.

20. Describe yourself in three words: Excited, Overwhelmed, Lucky


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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://archive.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/

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