By KELSEY SULLIVAN
The new dean of Illinois Institute of Technology’s Lewis College of Human Sciences graduated from Purdue and has since found her path to a career in higher education.
Christine Himes, like many Purdue students, changed her major after she arrived at Purdue her freshman year. She explored many classes and majors during her undergraduate career and eventually found a degree that fits her needs.
”I came to Purdue as a chemistry major, but quickly found that wasn’t the right field for me,” said Himes.
Science students were required to take a science language during Himes’ time as an undergraduate at Purdue. After choosing to pursue Russian, she quickly discovered she had more passion for linguistics than sciences.
Himes changed her major to industrial management, but kept her Russian classes. She graduated in 1979 with her B.A. in Russian language and B.S. in Industrial Management.
”It took me a long time to find the right career,” said Himes. “I graduated from Purdue and took a job as a purchasing agent for a small business. After a year, I went to work for the State of Indiana as a fiscal analyst for the state legislature. I started working on a master’s degree in math at IUPUI, but knew that wasn’t quite right, either.”
Students are often inclined to think their degree limits them to a career strictly in the field in which they received their degree; however, that is often not the case.
”By chance, I saw a poster about demography and decided to look into that,” said Himes. “I ended up at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the only Ph.D. programs in demography in the country at the time. I graduated with a joint Ph.D. in demography and sociology, even though I had never taken a single sociology course at Purdue.”
Himes joined Syracuse University in 1995 as an assistant professor of sociology. While at Syracuse, Himes served as director of the Center for Policy Research at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She serves on the Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Center for Health Statistics and is a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America. She will be joining Illinois Institute of Technology on July 1.
”(Students) are going to be thrilled with this new dean,” said Madonna Harrington Meyer, a professor of sociology and colleague of Himes’ at IIT.
Himes’ administrative skills were not necessarily purposefully cultivated, but rather came naturally to her and proved to be a valuable facet of her career.
”I didn’t expect to have an administrative career, but as I progressed, I found that I liked having those responsibilities and was good at it,” said Himes.
The Purdue graduate hasn’t visited Purdue in 20 years, but now that she will be working closer to her Alma Mater, she hopes to return for a football game soon. Himes admits Purdue has seen some major changes since she has visited, but her advice, gathered from her own experiences, is still useful to students today.
”One of the pieces of advice I always give to my students now is that they should always look to study things that interest them and with time, a career will come,” said Himes.