First Day Jitters

The New Year always connotes an opportunity to engage in something new. Reflection of the past year results in resolution for the future year. This past year, I committed some time to a newfound hobby of mine, and it was through that process that inspired me to enroll in a course, offered within our WKU College of Health and Human Services (CHHS). It’s time to strap on the backpack as I am walking back to campus this semester as not only the Dean of CHHS but also as a student of CHHS.

CSF 150 Gourmet Foods

Cooking. What better hobby is there, than one that rewards with a pleased palette? I am delighted to join with other students this semester in CSF 150 Gourmet Foods for an introduction to the principles and aesthetics of food preparation that is characteristic of both American cuisine as well as cuisines from around the world. This will be my first formalized instruction of food preparation as in recent months I have only taken a grass roots approach to cooking thru my own trial and error, to recipe sourcing, YouTube instruction, and help from friends.
This summer, while I was teaching abroad for six weeks in Mount Carmel, Israel, I had the opportunity to take cooking lessons from two private chefs, Guy and Ofer. As you may not know, people of the Mediterranean are known for their passion for good food and their gracious hospitality.

My first lesson was with Guy, who assembled my kitchen in preparation to output some simple, yet amazing Mediterranean dishes. With my limited background of Mediterranean cooking, I still found Guy’s recipes approachable. From hummus made with fresh garlic and chopped parsley to Tabbouleh salad, beef kabobs, summer sea bass and watermelon pizza, the cuisine was robust and filled with fresh flavor.

My second lesson was with Ofer, as he worked alongside me to show the technique of kneading and baking Moroccan Pranav bread. We also made lentil balls, a delicious Israeli Shakshuka (which is sunny side up eggs cooked with tomatoes), and tahini with a side of fresh watermelon and Bulgari cheese. The meal was a delicacy to me, yet something I could easily replicate back in the states in my own kitchen.

I learned that they key to these Mediterranean dishes was to eat with the seasons, to use whole foods, and above all, share. And share we did. Not a crumb was reserved for the trash.



Not only did I enroll in this course for the simple joy of cooking, I enrolled because I also wanted to view our college thru the lens of a student. As we continue to move important college initiatives forward, working through significant budget challenges, I want to make sure that through this progression, we remain student-centered. To keep that focus at our core, I find it important to position ourselves as students. This experience will also be instrumental to me to see how to navigate blackboard and multitask like so many students do on a daily basis. I also will get a better understanding from a different perspective to see how hard our faculty work to prepare for class each week!


It has been several years since I have held a student status at WKU, earning my master’s degree here in Sociology in 1991. I am excited to walk the halls again as a student at WKU, and if I seem a little nervous, just remember, even the Dean can have first day jitters!


Cheers to a safe and productive New Year!