Christian Diaz, Staff Writer
The college music department welcomes Kevin Kehrberg as a new faculty member this year. Kehrberg previously taught as an adjunct professor of music at Transylvania University in Lexington and Morehead State University in central Kentucky. He earned his doctorate from the University of Kentucky this summer.
As an active musician, Kehrberg was well aware of Asheville’s music scene and happy to move here with his wife and two daughters.
“I was familiar with the prestigious Swannanoa Gathering and the wonderful workshops it offered every summer on [Warren Wilson’s] campus,” said Kehrberg. “My dissertation advisor has taught Sacred Harp singing at the Gathering for the last several years during old-time week. I also knew several musicians who graduated from Wilson, including fiddle Rayna Gellert and members of the Greasy Beans, an Asheville-based bluegrass band.”
Kehrberg gives private bass and guitar lessons.
“I’ve been playing the bass (upright and electric) professionally for over ten years,” he added. “Asheville is a terrific location for music, so I am really excited to be in this area. I was just in Charlotte last weekend working with the North Carolina Dance Theater. They perform a modern ballet called Shindig that is choreographed to live, on-stage bluegrass music, and I was part of the band.”
Kehrberg is very interested in traditional American music, but also researches genres from other cultures.
“I am currently teaching Music Cultures of the World, which I’m focusing on Asia this semester. This is partly because I am starting an Indonesian gamelan ensemble.”
After 13 years working as a professional environmental advocate, Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies Gregory Kidd is joining the college science department. Kidd has devoted his career to serving in two local and iconic park units – the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Kidd studied Zoology at the University of Maryland, received a master’s degree in entomology at Cornell and studied law at the Seattle School of Law.
Despite pursuing an adjunct teaching job in biology in 2001, Kidd first accepted a job with the National Parks Conservation Association.
“I was planning a move to western NC in pursuit of my wife, Susan Sachs, who is a park ranger in the Smokies,” said Kidd. “Since moving here it has remained a desire of mine to teach at Warren Wilson – I reckon it only took nine years for me to get here.”
The Triad resonated with Kidd.
“I honestly wish that I had been aware of Warren Wilson College when I was looking into colleges back in the 1980s,” he said.
Kidd has maintained his ties with the environmental community, serving on the board of directors of the Western North Carolina Alliance. This professional role supplements his work in the classroom.
“I have always been interested in the interface between science and public policy,” Kidd noted. “I try to bring my real-world experience with environmental advocacy to my conversations in class.”
When not teaching or spreading altruistic environmental awareness, Kidd plays the bass with local musicians and makes beer with his friends.
Brian Olechnowski is the new biology and environmental science professor in the Warren Wilson science department. Olechnowski, who previously taught at the University of St. Francis in Joliet outside of Chicago, came across Warren Wilson through an online job advertisement. He had never heard of the college before but felt a connection upon his first visit.
“I instantly fell in love. I loved working at St. Francis but I ideally wanted to work with students who were passionate about environmental science, biology and the natural world. This seemed like a good place to do that, so I was very excited to come down here,” said Olechnowski. “This is definitely the kind of atmosphere I was looking forward to teach in.”
Olechnowski received his doctorate from Iowa State University – the research for which he did at Yellowstone National Park – and his BA from Cornell. He also studied at the University of Amsterdam and spent time in Italy, Tanzania and Kenya. He hopes to develop a study abroad course that will focus on both on the culture and natural wildlife of Kenya and Tanzania for the summer of 2012.
Olechnowski is currently researching local issues such as the effects of invasive species on the structures of habitat and avian diversity, elk and avian behavior in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and restoration efforts in Western North Carolina and their effects on biodiversity. These projects could become summer research trips.
Olechnowski wants to inspire his students to exceed standard requirements. “My goal,” said Olechnowski, “is to move the student beyond their [National Science Seminar] expectations and to prepare a document that will be worthy of public dissemination at a professional conference and/or submission to a scientific journal.”