Beyond the Classroom: Dr. Susan E. Keith

ASU Professor combines love of teaching and athletics

By Aubree Bailey
On April 20, 2018

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Dr. Susan E. Keith, dean of Graduate Studies and Research in the Department of Kinesiology, originally planned to enter the army, but this plan was derailed.

“I was supposed to go into the army, but physical injury as far as my poor knees knocked me out of that,” Keith said. “My degree was in business. I made it seven months and decided I couldn’t go down that road.”

Keith looked to her past hobbies to find a new path.

“Ever since I could walk, my two other brothers taught me anything that was sport related- whether it was ice skating, skiing, baseball, softball, football, skeet shooting, motorcycle riding, tennis, racquetball and many more,” Keith said. “Being physically active and a sports fan and participant all my life, I thought ‘let’s do something in recreation.’” 

She obtained her masters in exercise physiology from Baylor University, where she got the opportunity to be a graduate assistant and a teaching assistant. 

“I had never thought about teaching and that’s when I caught the teaching bug,” Keith said. “After I graduated from Baylor I got my first career job at Kilgore College. I really think they provided me with a great opportunity to establish a great foundation for teaching. After six years, I got a sabbatical at Kilgore so I could do a residency and get my PhD from Texas Woman’s University.”

After obtaining her doctoral degree, Keith began searching for a place to begin a new chapter of her career.

“When I was looking for schools to extend my career in teaching, I chose ASU because I felt they had a better balance between teaching and research.”

Keith came to ASU in 1997 and taught Kinesiology until 2015, when she took her current role as Dean. 

“I had never been a department chair, which is usually the normal progression to dean. I had a few opportunities to be a department chair but never had an inclination for administration. But when the dean position opened it peaked my interests, and I knew some of the staff in this office, and they are awesome. So I put my name in the hat, and there was an interview process, and I was selected.”

Keith enjoys many aspects of her job, but she especially likes graduations. 

“I just think graduation is what it’s all about. It’s such an exciting time. Ever since Kilgore and getting to be a part of that gradation to ceremonies at ASU, I’ve thought it’s a great day all around. It’s a wonderful day to celebrate not only the students’ work, but the part we play helping them walk across the stage. The best part is shaking the graduate students’ hands as they walk across the stage.”

Keith continues to be an avid sports fan and participant. 

“I’ve always been involved in sports, and I don’t know where I’d be without the many opportunities to be on a team throughout my life. One of the goals for this summer is to get back into golf. Hopefully I’ll also be able to attend more of our own sporting events as at ASU. I think it’s important to support athletes and all students.”

Additionally, Keith enjoys spending time with her wife, Patty, whom she married on April 1, 2015. 

“We like to be outdoors as much as possible and we walk our furry baby Rosie; it’s one of our favorite things we do because she [Rosie] gets so excited!”

Keith has two pieces of advice to share with students.

“One is actually a mantra, and I don’t know who wrote it, but I use it. ‘The teacher and the taught together create the teaching.’ It’s not all on the professor, nor should it all be on the students. The attitude and energy that students bring into the classroom impact the professors. But it also applies to the professors. It goes both ways.”

Keith also adds that she encourages students to be proactive and take responsibility for their actions and/or non-actions.  

“I love ASU; I chose to stay when I had opportunities to go elsewhere. It’s been a fantastic journey for me here. The students, the staff, the administration, the faculty; I just think we have a wonderful environment that creates a great environment for learning.”


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