Dr. Kenneth Brown’s motto is this: “Success without a successor is failure.” The saying speaks volumes to his passion for teaching and for his students.
He first discovered his desire to teach as a graduate research student at Oklahoma State. When he told his advisor he wanted to teach chemistry at a smaller institution, Hope was immediately mentioned.
And in fact, he never had to choose between research and teaching. With faculty-student collaborative research as a cornerstone of Hope, Dr. Brown is able to combine his passion for teaching with his chemistry research interests. During his time at Hope, he and his students have explored the electrochemistry behind portable glucose meters, like the one he uses every day. In addition, he is working alongside the department of biology to study the chemical composition of grasses infected with a fungus. The research, conducted using state-of- the-art equipment, addresses real questions, but the goal is especially to teach lasting lessons about the “how” of science.
“The equipment that we have is very impressive,” Dr. Brown notes. “Even when you compare it to major research institutions; but when you consider small schools like Hope, the amount of research that goes on and the equipment that we have far exceeds other schools, which makes student hands-on training even more feasible.”
There are other opportunities for students outside of Hope research, too. The department of chemistry helps students locate Holland-area industrial internships and off-campus research at other institutions.
The students thrive in these opportunities. Dr. Brown describes Hope students as inquisitive and insightful people who genuinely care about their education. He smiles when he describes giving students a test: “When they turn in their tests, they thank me and I smile.”
Not only do his students care about their education, they care about their professors, too. He recalls a holiday season when he came home to a “Merry Christmas” banner on his garage door and his yard and porch decorated in lights. When he was diagnosed with diabetes, some of his research students came over to cook dinner for him and gave him a diabetes cookbook. Dr. Brown’s interest in his students likewise extends beyond their time in the classroom and laboratory.
“Students think about succeeding in courses and making the grades. That’s an immediate success, but what’s more important is the long-term success. What I tell students is that the real test begins when you leave Hope College.”
With that idea in mind, Dr. Brown and his students are sure to succeed together.