Meet Dr. Kyle Viator, Campus Dean of Engineering, Tech and Aeronautics
Dr. Kyle Viator isn’t new to Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). Although he recently became the dean of SNHU’s School of Engineering, Technology and Aeronautics (SETA), he’s been connected to the university in one way or another since his undergraduate days, as he earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Two graduate degrees later — a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and a PhD in International Business — the dean is focused on how he can help students and faculty achieve their goals.
In a Q&A, Viator shared a bit about his history in academia, what’s special about the programs he oversees and more.
1. Tell us a bit about your professional background.
I have worked at Southern New Hampshire University for 13 years now. I began my career here working with our ... undergraduate business degrees, which helped me find my passion (for) administration in higher education. I loved working with students and working with faculty to help them achieve not only their personal and professional goals, but also their goals with their students.
2. What first drew you to higher education?
I really enjoyed the work we were doing with ... undergraduate degrees and how we were changing the structure of campus-based education while saving our students time and money. The focus on helping students beyond their curriculum has kept me at SNHU all of these years. Now, I have the chance as dean to help faculty get their goals accomplished so they can provide students the same life-changing opportunities I had when I was a student.
3. What aspects of your own education have been particularly influential in shaping your professional life in academia?
I had a senior capstone experience in my undergraduate career that really showed me that I had the potential to be a leader. I did not know I had it in myself at the time to see through a large-scale project like my team had, but I was so proud with the work we had done by the end of it.
4. How do you continue to learn and evolve as a leader in higher education?
I enjoy studying other leaders in higher education, especially as they face challenges, and (try) to put myself in their shoes with the same situation. Even outside higher education, there is a lot to learn about how other industries manage to make informed decisions, organize their work and the people that report to them.
I am always listening at work, too; you can learn from anyone you work with, so never mind the title the person has. There is something to learn from them, and I try to take that lesson and let it sink in.
5. What brings you the greatest joy in your work as a dean?
While I mostly work with faculty now, I love the opportunity to work directly with our students. It is my job to build community within our school, so I try to make sure we integrate fun into our educational experience wherever possible.
I also am immensely proud at the end of the year when I get to go to all of the capstone and student showcases we have in SETA. Seeing these students accomplish their goals at the end of the year is the most satisfying feeling anyone in higher education can experience.
6. What do you feel is unique about the faculty, students and programs you oversee?
Our programs in SETA are very disciplined: You need to know early that you want this to be your career. The faculty know the commitment it takes from our students upfront, and they rally around their students to make sure they are supported in every way possible to achieve this goal. That is why it is so important that we build a culture of support in SETA.
7. What advice do you have for new and current students?
This really is the most exciting and life-changing time in your life. Be sure to build strong relationships with the people around you — fellow classmates, of course, but also upper-classmen, faculty and staff. You will have some amazing opportunities provided to you at SNHU. Take advantage of them; you never know how they will influence your future. And be sure to travel, always travel!
8. When it comes to the future of education, particularly for engineering, technology and aeronautics programs, what’s on your mind?
My mind is (on) providing best-in-class support for our students. As I mentioned, these programs are very disciplined up-front, so it requires that rallying of support from everyone around the student. We need to make sure no student feels alone in their educational journey, and there is always a place to go for help. And as we expand to new programmatic opportunities, what supports do we build in to make sure our students are successful?
9. Why is education important to you and the world at large?
Education has meant everything to me. It has given me opportunities that I never thought I would have. I love working with our students to figure out the next big steps in their lives, that sets up careers for them for the rest of their lives.
I have the good fortune to occasionally teach online to mostly adult learners, and to hear their stories about why they choose to continue their education after long breaks or never taking the opportunity before, has continued to inspire me that what we do is so important to the world around us.
10. Beyond work, what’s something you’re passionate about or really enjoy doing?
I spend most of my free time trying to catch up with friends and family and, of course, the latest streaming show. I am an avid golfer and am always researching the best courses to play and travel to. I would like to play golf on every continent that has a course — hopefully sooner rather than later!
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Rebecca LeBoeuf Blanchette ’18 ’22G is a writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
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