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Jennifer Keys

Jennifer Keys
Senior Director of the Searle Center
Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching

Jennifer joined the Northwestern University community in October of 2021. She is thrilled to serve as the Senior Director of the Searle Center, supporting pedagogical and curricular innovation and the strategic priorities of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. Jennifer earned a doctorate in sociology from the University at Albany—State University of New York and has received a courtesy appointment as Professor of Practice in NU’s Department of Sociology.

In her previous role, Jennifer was Assistant Provost of Teaching and Learning and the Director of the Center for the Advancement of Faculty Excellence at North Central College in Naperville, IL. Her portfolio of organizational development initiatives included collaborating to create an infrastructure for community engaged learning, enhance learning faculty recognition programs, scale up high-quality blended and online courses, and engage faculty across the campus and the span of their careers in a robust array of professional development opportunities. She also provided leadership for the Higher Learning Commission Quality Assurance Initiative and Accreditation and vision for building a library learning commons and transfer pathways to close educational equity gaps.

As a tenured and full professor at NCC, Jennifer’s repertoire of courses included Power-Based Personal Violence, Protest and Change, Families and Intimate Relationships, Qualitative Methods, and Honors Seminars. Jennifer aspires to teach in a way that is temporarily disequilibrating but ultimately transformative, utilizing a wide range of active learning techniques and differentiated support so that students with diverse needs and backgrounds can achieve clearly defined outcomes.

Jennifer’s current scholarly interests focus on college transition, faculty engagement in high-impact educational practices, and educational development as a career pathway. She recently partnered with sociologists J. Mullaney and K. Geraty (2023) to critically discuss midlevel administrators' work with department chairs, specifically examining ways to reduce emotional labor. Her chapter in the International Handbook of Case Studies of Faculty Development Centers with A. Gòkè-Pariolá (2023) considers the role that a Center for Learning and Teaching can play in expanding community, infrastructure, and faculty capacity. A (2020) piece in Peer Review with J. Jackson explores how creative course design functions as a catalyst for senior faculty connection and renewal.

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