Posted on August 22, 2023
Christopher J. Kirkman, Ph.D.
September 13, 1970-August 20, 2023
Dr. Chris Kirkman, Coordinator of International Honors and Senior Academic Advisor with Lloyd International Honors College, passed away on August 20th, 2023. He battled cancer for almost a year and continued working throughout most of that time with his ever giving, thoughtful, and considerate ways of being in the world that we all came to love and admire about him. He will be deeply missed by colleagues and students, many of whom have shared his uplifting impact on the trajectory of their lives.
Chris worked at UNCG for 16 years, starting in University Admissions in 2007 until joining the Honors College in 2010. He was a UNC Greensboro alumnus, graduating with a B.A. in English, working on Corradi, the university literary magazine, and playing club soccer. He later returned to UNCG to complete a B.A. in History. He also earned his M.Ed. in English Education from UNCG and his Ph.D. in English Education/Language, Literacy, and Culture from UNCG as well. After graduating with his B.A., Chris worked as Special Projects Manager at Education Research Information Center/Counseling and Student Services office (ERIC/CASS) developing the International Career Development Library, a repository for information on career development, technology, and work skills for the future. He also worked as editor for various educational publications. After spending time in California, he returned to North Carolina to become a high school English teacher in Rockingham County, teaching AP English Language and Composition.
He began his time at UNCG as an assistant director in University Admissions before joining Lloyd International Honors College and devoting his time to student development and international education. During his time in Honors he advised students in Honors and international study options and worked closely with International Programs Center to manage registrations and travel funding for students. He served on many university committees, including Advising Council and the IPC Council. He admitted students to Honors and mentored them through their transition to Honors and UNCG. He regularly taught Honors seminars in literature and Honors Colloquium for first-year students. He was a reliable and beloved presence in North Spencer, one of the Honors residences, where students would drop in on him often for advice and wide-ranging conversations.
Chris’s research focused on issues of emerging writers and the use of imitation in developing writing skills. Research for his dissertation, “Readers in Text Worlds and Lived Worlds: A Narrative Inquiry Study of Understanding Meaning Making with Literature in a High School Classroom” took him back into Rockingham schools, where he interviewed young students about reading and literacy. He was generally interested in student learning, the role of international experience in education, and issues of literacy and identity.
Chris was a great lover of poetry and counted Csezlaw Milosz and Seamus Heaney among his favorite writers. He believed poetry was “one of the few modes of transcendence available to us” and shared his love of literature and reading with friends and students alike.
Chris enriched the lives of students and colleagues with his calm and centering generosity, kindness, and his ongoing search for beauty and meaning in the world. His students adored him, describing him as the first person in college to relate to them as adults, to relate to them seriously, with important and helpful observations and questions of their own. It was that feeling of being taken seriously and having much to give to the world that Chris gave to each person he spoke with. We all felt this and it’s an activity we can emulate and give to others in his honor. That is, we can all be more Chris-like in this way and look for the beauty and meaning in the world by looking for and seeing the best in each other, with kindness and humility. That is how we can honor him.
If you’d like to post a poem of your own, your reflections on Chris, or share a story about him, please do so here.
The weekend before Chris passed away, seven of his colleagues visited him and his family at their home. Together with Chris and his partner Adriana, we read some of his favorite poems … and then created one together, on the spot, listening and building on the person before them, three words at a time, going in a circle. One of us began with the words “Here we are …” and Chris, the last person in the circle, offered the final three words.
Poem about Poetry
Here we are
trying to do
beautiful words of
catching the Light
finding the joy
sharing the time
honoring our love
living our lives
We thank each of you for the joy you brought Chris in your interactions with him. He loved learning, laughing, and contemplating with you. And he will be deeply missed by all.
The Honors Ensemble