Honors College Staff

The Director of the Honors College standing outside


The Associate Director of the Honors College standing outside

Before becoming the Associate Director of the Honors College in 2011, Jodi Kelber-Kaye was a faculty member in Gender and Women’s Studies for eight years. She continues to do research and teach in the areas of critical gender and race studies, LGBT studies, visual studies, and gender and science studies. Besides her research in these fields, Dr. Kelber-Kaye serves as a gender consultant for “B’More Fit for Healthy Babies,” a HHS-funded project that is targeted to help reduce the high infant mortality rate in Baltimore City. Dr. Kelber-Kaye is also currently collaborating on the production of a documentary film about the feminist and black power movements active in Baltimore in the early 1970s. Dr. Kelber-Kaye received her Ph.D. in cultural studies from the University of Arizona in 2003 (where she also earned her M.A. in art history) and has been at UMBC ever since. Originally from Boston, she is happy to make downtown Baltimore her home and volunteers regularly with social change nonprofits in the city.


The Assistant Director of Honors College, Curriculum and Retention standing outside

Dr. Julie Oakes has been a member of the UMBC community since 2007, teaching numerous courses for both the History Department and Asian Studies Program. After receiving her M.A. in East Asian Studies from Stanford University, she went on to the University of Chicago where she earned a Ph.D. in Japanese history. Her research interests center on Japanese art policy, and she is currently revising her manuscript on the creation of Japan’s National Treasure system. In the 2016-2017 academic year, Dr. Oakes served as Acting Associate Director of the Honors College, following that up with a year as the Interim Director of the Asian Studies Program. In the spring of 2019, Dr. Oakes returned to the Honors College as the Assistant Director of Curriculum and Retention, which entails working with the Honors College Faculty Fellows and the freshmen residents of the Living Learning Community. Outside of her work at UMBC, Dr. Oakes is the Baltimore seminar coordinator for the NCTA (The National Consortium for the Teaching About Asia), whose aim is to help elementary, middle, and high school educators better incorporate East Asian topics into their curricula. She also gives talks on Japanese history and culture to various community groups, ranging from elementary school students to adult learners.


The Assistant Director of the Honors College, Assessment and Recruitment standing outside


Kendyl Walker was born and raised in the Baltimore County, right outside of the Woodlawn area. She received her B.A. in English at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2016 and an M.Ed. in College Student Personnel at Ohio University in 2019. Before coming to UMBC in 2022, she advised first-year and undecided students at Goucher College for three years. Kendyl’s main passions are to support students’ growth and provide students with resources that will help them succeed during their college careers.


Honors College Emeritus Faculty 

Ellen Handler Spitz, has been a member of the UMBC Community since 2001. She has taught interdisciplinary seminars in the Honors College in aesthetics, literature, psychology, and the visual arts. Dr. Spitz received her Ph.D. from Columbia University and has held fellowships at the Getty Center, Radcliffe Institute, Stanford, Rutgers and the Clark Art Institute, among others. She has taught and/or lectured in England, France, Italy, Israel, the Netherlands, Austria, Spain, Russia, Canada, India, and the Peoples Republic of China. Dr. Spitz has published numerous articles and books, most notably Art and Psyche (Yale University Press, 1985), Image and Insight (Columbia University Press, 1991), Museums of the Mind (Yale University Press, 1994), Inside Picture Books (Yale University Press, 1999), The Brightening Glance (Pantheon Books, 2006; Anchor-Vintage Books, 2007), and Illuminating Childhood: Portraits in Fiction, Film, and Drama (University of Michigan Press, 2010). She also reviews children’s literature in academic journals and for The New Republic online.