Classroom guests help students envision careers

Rodney Hill, visiting artist from Rennie Harris Puremovement in Philadelphia, taught a hip-hop class as part of the dance department visiting artist series.


Liberal arts and sciences graduates go on to successful and sometimes unconventional careers. They combine personal passion with the flexibility of their degree to build careers that are both fulfilling and challenging. To help students visualize their own career paths and provide valuable insight and advice for the future, College departments frequently host visiting experts and successful alumni in classrooms and on campus.

“These artists teach, set new work and share professional development advice with our students,” said Michelle Heffner Hayes, chair and professor of dance. “These connections to professionals provide a network of support for our graduates as they negotiate their career paths.”

Since 2010, the dance department has hosted the Janet Hamburg Visiting Artist Series, which supports intensive residencies by guest artists each semester. Last semester, the department hosted artists from dance companies all over the world, from Chicago and Long Beach, California, to Tel-Aviv, Israel.

“Having a guest choreographer gives us a chance to see what’s happening elsewhere in the dance world and allows us to really expand our knowledge and vocabulary of dance,” dance major Julie Ferrell said of the series.

Sarah Deer Campus Visit: 2015
Alumnus Alex Kipp taught in theatre classes and workshops during his campus visit.

Leslie Bennett, associate professor of theatre, also focuses on bringing in a number of guest artists and alumni to meet with students in her master class each semester.

“It lends strength to the students’ perception of their education here at KU when they meet with and learn from our accomplished alumni,” Bennett said.

In early February, multiple College departments welcomed distinguished alumnae back to campus to speak with students, faculty and community members about their unique career journeys. Sarah Deer, a 2014-15 MacArthur Fellow and, Rosemarie Truglio, senior executive at “Sesame Street,” returned to the Hill this month.

Sarah Deer Campus Visit: 2015
Sarah Deer spoke with WGSS 521: Women and Violence

Connecting students with these passionate, creative and impressive alumni showcases the breadth of possibilities available to liberal arts and sciences graduates. Just like these alumni, current students have the freedom to create their own unique path.

Deer, an advocate for tribal law reform, presented the annual “February Sisters” lecture hosted by the Department of Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies. She also met with students and faculty over lunch and had the opportunity to speak with students in the WGSS 521 “Women and Violence” class, a group that had already read some of Deer’s work as part of the curriculum for the course.

Rosemarie Truglio, senior executive at Sesame Street, spoke with students in two different classes during her “Professor for a Day” campus visit.

Truglio’s visit to campus was part of the College’s “Professor for a Day” program. She had the opportunity to teach two classes, speak with a group of Honors students over lunch and present a public lecture in the evening. While on campus, Truglio was able to work with students to discuss creative solutions for overcoming challenges faced by those in education and childhood development.

“Alumni play many important roles for the university. Those who have participated in the College’s Professor for a Day program report that the opportunity to engage with students and faculty in the classroom is particularly meaningful.  On the flip side, students get direct access to professionals in their chosen field and can ask pointed questions about trends in the workforce,” said Jessica Beeson, director of alumni, donor and community engagement for the College. “It’s a wonderful way to showcase what you can achieve with a degree in the liberal arts & sciences.”