Faculty and Staff
Paul Knox, Founding Dean
Paul Knox is a University Distinguished Professor who came to Virginia Tech from the United Kingdom to teach in the Urban Affairs program. His degrees are in Geography and his interests are urbanization and urbanism. Between 1997 and 2006 he served as Dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, since which he has served as Senior Fellow for International Advancement, reporting directly to the university President. This has involved responsibility for the Steger Center for International Scholarship in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland, a spell as Interim Director of the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, leadership of the planning process that produced the university’s 2013-2019 strategic plan, the establishment of Virginia Tech’s Global Forum on Urban and Regional Resilience and, now, Founding Dean of the Honors College.
He is a member of Virginia Tech’s Ut Prosim Society and serves on the editorial board of seven international journals. His most recent books are Strong Island: Portsmouth’s History in Brick and Stone (Aegir, 2019); Metroburbia (Merrel, 2017); London: Architecture, Building and Social Change (Merrell, 2015), and Atlas of Cities (Princeton University Press, 2014), which received the Association of American Geographers’ Globe Book Award for Public Understanding of Geography. He is currently writing a book on the cultural political economy of the design professions.
Meet our team
Whether teaching Honors College classes, mentoring students, or handling the behind-the-scenes administration of the college, we work each day to facilitate an extraordinary undergraduate education for Honors students at Virginia Tech.
HONORS COLLEGE FACULTY
HONORS COLLEGE STAFF
Dr. Lefter Daku serves as chief financial officer of the Honors College providing leadership for financial and strategic resource planning, fiscal compliance, scholarship administration, policy development and other administrative operations. He works closely with the Dean to develop and coordinate the College’s annual academic and operating budget planning process.
Before joining the Honors College, Dr. Daku served as founding Director of Enrollment Research and Analysis in the Office of Enrollment Management (2012 – 2017) and Sr. Planning Manager and Associate Director of Research and Planning in the Office of University Scholarship and Financial Aid (2003 – 2012) at Virginia Tech. He also held academic appointments as Lecturer of Business Statistics at Tirana Agricultural University, Albania, and as adjunct faculty of economics at Radford University. He earned an M.S. and a Ph.D. in applied economics from Virginia Tech.
Dr. Daku serves on the editorial board of Journal of Student Financial Aid. He also was a member of the U.S. Education Department’s Technical Review Panel that designed the College Net Price Calculator, used by thousands of colleges and universities across the United States. He is a regular presenter at regional, national, and international conferences, and has published several monographs, book chapters, and peer-reviewed articles.
Dr. Paul Heilker is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the Honors College. He is also an Associate Professor in the English Department, he has served as Director of the PhD in Rhetoric and Writing and Director of Composition. Dr. Heilker is a long-term member of the Virginia Tech Academy of Teaching Excellence, having earned both the Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching and the University Sporn Award for Excellence in Teaching Introductory Subjects. As Associate Dean, Dr. Heilker leads the efforts of the Honors Laureate Diploma Program, the Honors Reading Seminars (UH 2124), and the VT Presidential Global Scholars Program -- the Honors College semester abroad experience. Central to Dr. Heilker’s recent scholarship is the idea that rhetoric is a way of being in the world through language. To create a less hostile and violent future, he says, we need less hostile and violent discourses, and we need to teach these alternative ways of being in the world to students.
Michelle Kovac is the Program Manager for the Calhoun Honors Discovery Program. She serves as the liaison between Virginia Tech students and faculty and the industry partners who are participating in the Calhoun Honors Discovery Program. Her responsibilities include coordinating scheduling of program courses, event coordination, and assisting with student and faculty travel.
Michelle has an M.S. Ed. in Career and Technical Education and a B.S. in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Virginia Tech. Her professional career began in the hospitality industry working in convention services and sales. Then, she went on to teach high school marketing for 10 years before coming to Virginia Tech as a project manager for the last 3 years. Working with the Calhoun Honors Discovery Program combines her experience as a teacher and project manager to beneﬁt students, faculty members, and industry partners.
Michelle is originally from Allentown, PA, but came to Virginia Tech for college and has made Blacksburg her home. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband, 4 rescue dogs and a cat. She is passionate about health and ﬁtness, works on home improvement projects, and can usually be found outside doing landscaping work.
Christina McIntyre is the Director of Professional Development and National and International Scholarships for the Honors College. She oversees the university process for many national and international level awards. Christina serves as president for the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC). Students are encouraged to take a moment to review this 11 minute TedX video from Doug Cutchins, a scholarship advisor and colleague, for a healthy perspective and mindset when applying to any type of scholarship.
From 1995 to 2007, Christina worked as a Research Associate, Instructor, Undergraduate Coordinator, and Assistant Department Head for Human Nutrition, Foods & Exercise in the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences. She joined the Honors College staff as Associate Director in July 2007.
Christina is a member of the National Association of Fellowship Advisors (NAFA). She serves as past-chair for NCHC’s Partners in the Parks committee, a collaboration with the National Park Service. She also serves on the Advocacy Committee for NCHC. In 2012, her advising accomplishments were recognized with the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Advising and a certificate of merit from National ACdemic ADvising Association (NACADA). On campus she serves as the faculty advisor for the Outdoor Club of Virginia Tech (OCVT), an AT trail maintaining club.
Russell coordinates the entire recruitment and admission process for first-year, transfer, and current Virginia Tech students entering the Honors College.
He first started working for the Honors College in August 2004 as Assistant Director. Through the years, he also has served as Senior Assistant Director and Associate Director, having coordinated the Honors admissions process, recruitment scholarship process, Odyssey Fellowship process, various teaching responsibilities (including time in Switzerland with the Honors Presidential Global Scholars), and organizational responsibilities for the Honors residential communities (Hillcrest and the Honors Residential Commons). He has presented at the National Collegiate Honors Council and Honors Education in Research Universities conferences.
Russell’s interest in college students began several years before he came to Virginia Tech. From 2000-2001, he worked at Concord University as Counselor/Coordinator for the Upward Bound Math/Science Program, which was the only program of its kind in West Virginia. This position allowed him to work with underserved and underrepresented high school student populations in southern West Virginia as they prepared to enter their college years.
Beginning in 2001, Russell worked for three years as an Assistant Director of Admissions at Radford University. While there, he traveled extensively throughout the entire New England region as well as the Hampton Roads, Richmond, Northern Neck, and Shenandoah and Roanoke Valley areas of Virginia. He left Radford in August 2004 to begin his role at Virginia Tech.
Russell hails from Princeton, West Virginia. He graduated from Concord University with a B.S. in biology (pre-med focus), and then earned a master’s degree from Marshall University in biological sciences. His master’s work focused on an ecological vegetation study of the McClintic Wildlife Management Area near Point Pleasant, West Virginia. McClintic Wildlife Management Area was the former TNT manufacturing site during World War II, which was personified in the book and movie The Mothman Prophecies. He also has completed graduate work in Public Administration and Policy.
Sara Vandyke has worked for the Honors College since 2012. Sara serves as an advisor to the Dean of the Honors College on topics and initiatives in line with College priorities. Her work with students includes directing the Honors Peer Advising Center and advising for the Honors Minor in Transdisciplinary Praxis. Sara also oversees College human resources and manages strategic planning and reporting.
Sara has an MA in Political Science from Virginia Tech. She attended Virginia Tech as an undergraduate student in the University Honors Program (now Honors College), where she earned a BA in Political Science with a minor in Spanish.
Eni Gosselin joined the Honors College as the Business Operations Coordinator. She provides fiscal and business support for the College and serves as the Building Emergency Coordinator.
Eni has a B.S. in Applied Economic Management and a M.S. in Business Administration from Virginia Tech. Prior to joining the Honors College, Eni has worked as a business coordinator in the Department of Animal & Poultry Sciences and the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures.
Erin Deitzel joined the Honors College in 2022 and works in the capacity of Communications Specialist, coordinating the internal and external communications of the Honors College. They earned their M.A. and undergraduate degrees from Appalachian State University in the department of English. Their Master's thesis, "Print Culture and the Roma in North America," won Outstanding Thesis Award for its discussion of the depiction of the Romani throughout nineteenth century North American ephemeral print literature. They also worked on Mandarin to English translation projects, including translating and analyzing the "Misty" poetry of Bei Dao. They have previously held the positions of Assistant Editor at Cold Mountain Review and Web Content Manager at Cottonwood Music Emporium.
Ashlee Cox has joined the Honors College as the Administrative Assistant. She serves as the first point-of-contact for those who call or enter the Honors College suite. She provides administrative support to the Dean as needed and manages the Honors College's main email address. She assists with reviewing and approving the honors credits that have been entered into the Canvas Honors Credit Tracker and with maintaining the Faculty-Student Agreements.
Ashlee obtained her B.S. in Vocal Music from Radford University and obtained certifications in Administration through Florida Gulf Coast University. While not working, Ashlee enjoys spending time with her son, husband and two dogs. She and her family enjoy family camping trips, kayaking and bike rides.