Faculty Profile: John McCombe

The University of Dayton honors program has seen exponential growth in recent years and its new director looks to build on that success by making the program more inclusive and meaningful for students.

John McCombe, professor of English, was appointed director of the program July 1. Now 1,400 students strong, the program is at its highest membership since its launch in 1978. In 2012, when McCombe ended a previous five-year term as associate director, the program graduated 132 honors students.

The program offers academically accomplished University students the chance to more deeply engage in their education. The program provides internship, leadership, service and academic opportunities beyond the typical college experience.

McCombe’s vision for the program is to broaden inclusivity of all majors by cultivating experiential learning opportunities for honors credit. As the program keeps growing, he hopes to get ideas from program alumni to help develop it into something even more meaningful for current students.

McCombe credits the program’s transformation and tremendous growth during the past four years to his predecessor, associate professor of history David Darrow, and his team.

McCombe said one of the best parts of his new role is getting to know students who are engaged in their education through honors program opportunities or extracurricular activities.

“It pushes me,” McCombe said about the work ethic of the students involved in the program.

McCombe’s also had high praise for his program colleagues.

“I really like the team of people here,” he said. “Some are new, some have been with the program for many years, but every single person is invested in the success of honors students.”

McCombe’s English department colleagues are equally complimentary about his character. Andrew Slade, department of English chair, affirmed McCombe is the right person for the director position, especially in regards to his “deep sense of humility.”

“He is very clear,” Slade said. “It’s not about him; it’s about students.”

McCombe’s involvement in the honors program has not halted his work as an English professor. He recently finished an essay on David Bowie’s experiences in Germany and plans to work his research into a future course on gender identity. In addition, McCombe will be team-teaching a course about cities and energy during the spring semester with history professor Janet Bednarek.

McCombe has been a Dayton Flyer since 2001. He earned his doctorate in British Literature from Ohio State University in 2000.

- Nikki Kamp ‘17

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