Introducing Dr. Vicky Klima, Interim Dean of the Honors College

With great enthusiasm, we introduce Dr. Vicky Klima as the interim dean of the Honors College, effective July 1, 2023.

Dr. Klima holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics and economics from Erskine College and a Master of Science and Ph.D. specializing in algebra from North Carolina State University. She joined App State’s faculty in the Department of Mathematical Sciences in 2003. In 2019, she became the Honors College academic mentor for students majoring in STEM, after serving for 13 years as the Honors Director for the Department of Mathematical Sciences. She also became Graduate Program Director for the mathematical sciences department in 2022.

About herself, Interim Dean Klima shared:

“I've just finished my twentieth year at Appalachian. In fact, I worked as a teaching assistant all through graduate school, which means this fall will only be the third semester in 25 years that I haven't taught a math class. I'm going to miss teaching math tremendously and hope that Honors students might stop by with calculus questions!”

Dr. Klima has created increasingly interactive classrooms each passing semester. She is the chair of the Mathematical Association of America's High Impact Practices Working Group, and continues to learn and share her passion for active-learning teaching strategies through participation in regional and national meetings. Her belief in the power of student engagement carries through to her work with undergraduate research. Dr. Klima is interested in questions concerning mathematical structure and pattern. Most recently she has worked with undergraduate Honors students to study applications of abstract algebra to both voting theory and microtonal music theory. She values the personal relationships she is able to build with her students through shared problem-solving experiences.

Dr. Klima is the 2022 recipient of the Mathematical Association of America's Southeastern Section Distinguished Teaching Award. At App State, she received the Appalachian Undergraduate Council Excellence in Academic Advising Award in 2021, was accepted to participate in the BRIDGES professional development program in 2020, and won the Appalachian State University College Excellence in Teaching Award in 2017.

Interim Dean Klima highlights three initiatives she has targeted for the Honors College in the upcoming academic year:

  • “I hope to strengthen relationships with alumni. I want to work towards developing a speaker series in which recent alumni return to campus to share the great things they are doing, and how their Appalachian honors education prepared them for those great things. The series could include lectures, panel discussions, or even mock interviews.
  • I’m also delighted that our Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning for Student Success has agreed to sponsor Honors College teaching squares, allowing Honors College faculty to gain insights from each other’s approaches to teaching and learning. Honors faculty represent departments across campus, and the squares will help faculty explore teaching beyond disciplinary boundaries.
  • I'm excited to bring the leaders of our four incredible Honors College student organizations together in an Honors College Student Advisory Council to help guide the College in fulfilling our mission. The Appalachian Honors Association (AHA!), our student activities organization; Peer-Mentors, our organization connecting first-year students with upper-class mentors; the Chancellor’s Scholars Governing Board, our newly formed organization building community among the Chancellor’s Scholars; and Honors Vanguard, our organization of Honors College student ambassadors—have developed strong leadership structures.”

Vicky also wants to introduce herself personally to the Honors College community. She shared:

“My spouse, Dr. Rick Klima, is the director of First Year Seminar and we are both professors in the Department of Mathematical Sciences. Jeff Vahlbusch told me that in a single day we each separately attempted to recruit him to teach for us after he retired.

Rick and I both attended NC State for graduate school, but at different times. We actually met at Appalachian. We have two boys: Marshall (13) and Jack (12).  We live downtown, about an eight-minute walk from Appalachian Hall, and both boys attend Hardin Park Elementary. We try to make the most of where we live. Rick, who grew up in Atlanta, is always pointing out how lucky the boys are to be surrounded by wonderful outdoors activities. Each weekend of the pandemic we were able to tackle a new hike. But now our boys have more commitments—Marshall plays basketball all the time and Jack is busy with martial arts. We don't make it out into nature as often as I would like. 


Vicky Klima with her sons Marshall (left) and Jack hiking under the Blue Ridge Parkway Viaduct (in shorts!) in late December 2021. Photo courtesy of Rick Klima.


I grew up in Murphy, a very small town in southwestern NC. I left Murphy for another small town (Due West, SC) to attend Erskine College. When I got to Erskine, I knew I loved math, but my mom was a middle school math teacher and I didn't want to become my mother, so I decided to major in economics, which I knew involved a great deal of math and statistics. Later, I had taken so many math classes (and loved them) that I decided to minor in math. Finally, I ended up double majoring. After I graduated, I couldn't imagine what it would be like to no longer learn new mathematics. I decided to attend graduate school in math and then work in industry. That way I would still avoid becoming my mother. My plan wasn't unrealistic, many of my graduate school friends work in industry today. However, to pay my way through graduate school, I worked as a teaching assistant. And, you know what, I loved teaching! In the end, I became a math teacher and have also finally realized I am proud to be just like my mom.


Dr. Klima teaching her son, Jack, during the pandemic. Photo submitted.


I was a runner in the past and have completed two marathons: Disney and the Phoenix Rock and Roll Marathons. I still try to hit the pavement each morning, but for 3-4 miles, nowhere near the distances I used to tackle daily. I also enjoy cooking and am particularly proud of my key-lime pie and candy-bar cookies. I’m planning on bringing a batch of the cookies to our first Cookies with Vicky event in August (TBA soon!).”

Interim Dean Klima has already been very busy shepherding the college through this transition. We are lucky to have someone at the helm with her experience, understanding, and investment in Honors education. Please be sure to welcome her to this new role when you see her!

Published: Jul 12, 2023 9:46am