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A New Place For New Tasks - Au Sable Welcomes Director of Educational Development

Aug 12, 2016

­­One of the most crippling phrases to the growth and creativity of any organization is, “We’ve always done it that way before!” As the Au Sable Institute begins an organizational era of new and revitalized approaches to its work to inspire and educate people to serve, protect, and restore God’s earth, new tasks and new strategies in its educational programming will be part of the transition. Welcoming these changes, the Au Sable Institute also is pleased to welcome its newest staff member, Dr. Brian Keas. Brian will serve as Au Sable’s Director of Educational Development, working with Au Sable’s faculty and staff to develop strong God-centered environmental programs at all educational levels, including Au Sable’s K-8 Environmental Education Internship Program, offerings in college courses in environmental and conservation science, and the Au Sable Graduate Fellows Programs, which mentors Christian graduate students at major public and private research universities. Moving beyond Au Sable’s own programs, Brian will also work with each of Au Sable’s Participating Colleges to help each of these schools develop its own, institution-specific curriculum in environmental study, creating programs of sustained and growing enrollment, vocational and professional accomplishment, and close interaction with the Au Sable Institute.  

Born and raised in Michigan, Brian has felt a deep connection from a young age to the land and the species that occupy this state’s wild spaces. Spending his childhood days catching bugs, slopping through creeks, and exploring natural areas, Brian has always been amazed and inspired by the beauty and diversity of creation.  As a teenager he distinctly remembers the emotion of seeing the last three living individuals of the Dusky Seaside Sparrow before their extinction and later Lonesome George, the last Pinta Island tortoise in the Galapagos Islands.  Closer to home, he can now look back over the past several decades to witness the drastic declines in once common insects such as the honey bees and Monarch butterflies. “The importance of restoring and redeeming creation is urgent, and I am excited to be part of Au Sable's mission to inspire and educate people in the care and protection of the environment so that we can help restore the beautiful earth God created,” says Brian. 

For 16 years prior to joining the staff at Au Sable, Brian worked at Ohio Northern University in various roles over the years including Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs and Study Abroad Director and most recently as Department Chair for the Department of Biological and Allied Health Sciences. Also while at Ohio Northern University, Dr. Keas taught Field Biology courses and led student trips to the Galapagos, Andes Mountains and Ecuador’s tropical rainforests.

During his years as a student, Brian attended Hope College for his undergrad where he had the opportunity to research swimmer’s itch in Northern Michigan and ecological succession in Costa Rica, receiving Bachelor degrees in Biology and Chemistry. From there he went on to earn his M.S. in Biology through studying aquatic host-parasite relationships through Wake Forest University in North Carolina, then finally his Ph.D. in Zoology from Michigan State University where he specialized in conservation of Lake Huron coastal wetlands in the Les Cheneaux region of the eastern Upper Peninsula.

Outside of work Brian loves most outdoor activities, particularly trail running; Brian is an experienced runner and has completed multiple marathons! Hiking, anything in, on, or around water, watching wildlife, and reading, round out his other favorite hobbies. As for the future, Brian says, “I am looking forward to learning to cross-country ski and snowshoe in the northern Michigan winters… and perhaps even get hooked on fly-fishing!”

“I am very pleased to have Brian with us,” says Au Sable’s Executive Director, Dr. Fred Van Dyke. “With his extensive experience in educational administration, curricular assessment, and faculty development, Brian is going to help us create entirely new models of educational programming. With Brian on our staff, we will be shifting our focus from simply recruiting students to come to Au Sable to, instead, placing increased emphasis on helping our colleges develop quality programs in creation care at every one of these schools, combined with assisting in personal leadership development of faculty at these colleges who will guide those programs. Brian is the person who can make these things happen. And by making these things happen, build a lasting legacy of educational contribution to the entire Christian community, not just the Au Sable Institute.” 

Au Sable extends its warmest welcome to Dr. Brian Keas who brings his strong background, experience, knowledge of science and education, and vibrant Christian faith to the Au Sable Institute. Welcome Brian!