Geology prof’s time at UWRF has been ‘quite a ride’

Posted April 13, 2023

Professor Kerry Keen, who has taught environmental science and geology classes for more than 20 years, will end his time at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls at the completion of the spring semester.

“It’s been quite a ride,” said Keen, who has had notable accomplishments since he started in the Department of Plant and Earth Science in 1997.

Keen’s specialties include hydrogeology, hydrology and sedimentary geology with expertise in how the environment coincides with water, rocks and much more. Teaching thousands of students, Keen has been student-focused and said, “our students are so fortunate to have an amazing laboratory right out the back of the Ag Science Building.” Keen has taught Introduction to Geology, Hydrology and Water Quality, and Sedimentary Geology courses.

“I try to help them (students) understand more deeply and broadly how this amazing planet, which we share, and that many take for granted, works and relates to individuals and societies,” said Keen.

Keen has taught many other courses, and for more than a decade, spent time working in the Semester Abroad Europe program guiding students with projects in another country.

“It was overall a very rewarding and interesting part of my years at UWRF,” said Keen and added, “I loved working with students from a wide variety of majors and learning about their interests.”

Keen acknowledged that the team he has worked with has helped him learn and grow to be a better and wiser person.

“The wonderful colleagues whom I’ve shared moments, days, carpools… and years in this adventure of trying to help our students learn and be successful,” said Keen.

Holly Dolliver, chair of the Department of Plant and Earth Science, said the energy Keen brought to the department has been contagious, and will be missed.

“I will miss the energy and enthusiasm that he brings,” said Dolliver and added, “He brings that perspective of how can we be making this better and that mindset around continuous growth and improvement.”

Additionally, the connections and friendships Keen brought to the department will be missed, especially in the area of water, but Dolliver looks forward to staying connected with Keen in this next journey in his life.

“We know water is a critical resource on planet earth,” said Keen. “By no means is our department going to abandon water and, in fact, we have already started that process with a new faculty member in our department already taking over the Hydrology and Water Quality course.”

Dolliver is continuing to evaluate how to fill the gap through continued conversations with her team members.

To celebrate Keen, a last lecture event is planned for May 4. A last lecture is a special time to reflect upon the professor’s area related to teaching and research contributions to provide closure.

“This is a tradition we do in the geology program when faculty commit to their retirement. We provide this opportunity,” said Dolliver.

More information will be released in an upcoming Falcon Daily about the event to celebrate Keen’s contributions to UW-River Falls.