The new dean of the Honors College has an academic background as diverse as the majors of his students.
John Emert became acting dean of the Honors College in 2016, and his full deanship was announced through a campus-wide email on June 19. Emert majored in mathematics and music in his undergrad at the University of Tennessee and went on to receive his masters and doctorate in mathematics.
“I was first a music major. That’s where my car was parked. That’s where my friends were,” Emert said. “But I enjoyed math, and my first thought was to do a minor in math because I thought it was fun.”
Although music and math may seem like conflicting passions, Emert sees “something connected” between the two and eventually double-majored.
“In a sense, both provide you a means to break the expectations, to break the system, to push the rules,” Emert said. “Especially between music theory and theoretical mathematics.”
Ball State offered Emert a position in 1989 following his graduation and he accepted, turning down offers from other universities.
“I saw distinct potential at Ball State, both for myself and also for the school,” Emert said. “And that potential has been realized even better than I could have imagined.”
Emert saw what he called “forward-thinking” from his first interview with Ball State. During his first campus tour, his guide mentioned the then-upcoming Schaefer Tower and a green space that was to replace a parking lot next to Bracken Library.
He took his outward look for Ball State and saw opportunities within the Honors College, one of which included starting a math-based class available to any Honors student.
Now, Emert’s responsibilities include enhancing research, study abroad and fellowship opportunities as well as recruitment of future students, according to the email.
Although he accepted the deanship, Emert has not stopped instructing Honors classes and making himself available to students.
“I dare say I’m the only academic dean that has immediate access to students,” Emert said. “It’s a great privilege—the nimbleness—that we can celebrate the good things and address the challenges and still do what the other deans do.”
As for undergraduate students who may have opposite passions like the new dean did, Emert encourages them to pursue both.
“Don’t pigeonhole yourself. Think of yourself as a full person," Emert said. "You’re more than an accountant. You’re more than a mathematician. You’re more than a violist. You’re you.”