Department: English School: Arts and Sciences Campus: Manhattan
Member of NYIT Since: 1987
From NYIT's Weekly Update:
When she’s not teaching courses in World Literature, the Art of Fiction, or Basic Reading and Writing for International Students, you may find Katherine Williams working on the Academic Senate News Briefs — she’s the Senate’s corresponding secretary and also chairs two of its committees—or attending a meeting of the President’s Task Force on Emergency Preparedness. She has a clear perspective about where NYIT has been and where it’s going.
Why did you choose teaching as a profession? I can’t think of any place where I feel more useful than in the classroom. Like most people who gravitate toward teaching, I was inspired by teachers throughout my school years. One course in college—an honors seminar in English—was so transporting that I can still remember all the works we read and the feeling of exaltation as we worked our way through John Crowe Ransom’s “Antique Harvesters.” Teaching lets me share those magical moments. I’m amazed at how happily students at NYIT read literature—and I enjoy those moments in writing classes when students learn to appreciate their abilities, however hard won.
How have new technologies changed the way you teach your courses? I teach online courses regularly and have taught in the DL classrooms. I think online teaching has challenged me the most. It is always hard to make connections with students in an online environment. But I’ve learned how to step back from the center of the classroom. I’ve also seen students participate in online literature classes to a degree that would have been impossible for them in a traditional setting, whether from shyness or lack of confidence.
You co-chaired NYIT’s Self-Study working group on “Leadership and Governance; Administration; Integrity.” What did you learn from this process about NYIT? While our working group compiled data on each of those standards, my greatest interest was in “administration.” I have always felt that NYIT’s administrative and support staff are hard working and incredibly dedicated. I think the data we unearthed underscored how much they accomplish with the available resources.
Who is your favorite author and why? I always find it impossible to answer that question. It’s easier for me to think of “favorite” or “best” works. Moby Dick has been called the greatest book ever written in the English language, and that’s how I felt reading it. And once I learned enough Ancient Greek to read the first book of Homer’s original Iliad. Now that was a spiritual moment.
What are your interests outside of NYIT? I enjoy research of any kind and am currently working on a book about windows (no, not the Microsoft kind). So I spend much of my free time in the library. I like going to movies, museums, and concerts. I live in Brooklyn and am around the corner from BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), Prospect Park, and the Botanical Gardens. New York is full of energy, wherever you go. I feel lucky to live here.