Kelly Millenbah ’90 becomes dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State

Kelly Millenbah ’90 of Mason, Michigan, has transitioned from being the interim dean to the dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State University. She has been serving as interim dean since July 2021 and is a professor in the department of fisheries and wildlife. At Ripon, she majored in biology. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in fisheries and wildlife from Michigan State University.

Her new role is highlighted in media outlets such as WIA (Women in Academia) Report and an interview and video on Michigan Farm News.

A career in education brings together many passions for her, Millenbah previously told Ripon College. “After leaving Ripon, I knew I wanted to go on to graduate school,” she said. She wanted to be a wildlife biologist, and her time on trips to the Associated Colleges of the Midwest Wilderness Field Station near Ely, Minnesota, confirmed that desire.

While working on her Ph.D. at Michigan State, she discovered how much she enjoyed teaching and interacting with students while serving as a teaching assistant for a population analysis course. “It really evolved from there,” she said. “I loved teaching and the more I learned about how students learn, it was clear that I had another new passion — teaching and learning.”

Halfway through her Ph.D., she was offered a faculty position. In that role, in addition to on-campus courses, she also led study abroad programs to Kenya, Australia and South Africa.

Her college supports approximately 4,900 students pursuing two-year certificates, four-year, master’s and Ph.D. degrees. She appreciates both the classroom and administrative aspects of education. “I love being in the classroom,” she said. “Students are phenomenal. They challenge you to be a better you. I love their excitement and energy.”

As an administrator, though, “I get to work at a different level and effect change by influencing and shaping experiences that enhance our students’ ability to be successful,” she said.

A good educator needs “passion to make a difference and passion to see the importance of affecting and supporting other individuals,” she said. “That is critical. It’s important for us to be concerned about others and ensure they have access to the best classrooms, programs and curriculum.

“There is no greater gift that someone can give themselves than education. Your education can never be taken away from you. As an educator, we have the ability to shape and support students and give them all the tools possible to be effective leaders and global citizens.”

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