LAS CRUCES Timothy Ketelaar likes being part of a team. Whether he's helping push his fellow cyclists over mountain roads at top speed or teaming up with his partner in the kitchen for a gourmet meal, the New Mexico State University psychology professor finds himself doing his best leadership when he's supporting and facilitating, boosting the team from within.
That servant leadership style is part of what led him to his newest role, as associate dean in the William Conroy Honors College and director of the NMSU Office of National Scholarships and International Education.
"I describe the Honors College as being at the intersection of excellence and opportunity," Ketelaar said. "We're working with the top students and the most engaged faculty, and our job is to bring them together."
In the scholarship office, he said, the idea is to present opportunities — often in the form of fellowships, scholarships and study abroad programs.
"The Honors College is about leadership," he said. "It's not enough that these are our exceptional students — we expect them to take the lead. We want them to be leading scholars, leading artists. This office really gives them the opportunity to use these fellowships and scholarships to develop their leadership potential."
Ketelaar will split his time between guiding students through the process of applying for top national and international awards like the Fulbright, Goldwater and Gates Cambridge scholarships and continuing to teach courses.
"I'm an active researcher in the area of human emotion, and I enjoy the courses I'm teaching," Ketelaar said. "The nice thing about this role is that half my time is spent working directly with students in the scholarship office, the other half is teaching, research and training graduate students. It's a great blend."
Ketelaar earned his Bachelor of Science, with honors, from the University of Iowa and his Master of Science in social and personality psychology from Purdue University. He then earned his Ph.D. in personality psychology from University of Michigan, followed by post-doctoral research fellowships at University of California-Berkeley and the Max Planck Institute for Psychological Research in Germany. He joined the faculty of NMSU's Department of Psychology in 2002.
He said he pursued his interest in human emotion because he's fascinated by individual differences in people's emotional experiences — how two people can go through the same experience and have different emotions.
"We don't have direct access to how other people feel," Ketelaar said. "Psychology is fascinating, because you're making educated guesses about what other people are thinking and feeling."
Another place Ketelaar enjoys doing research is in the kitchen, where he and his partner, Martha Zella, a culinary arts teacher at Mayfield High School, can often be found working together to prepare a rich, savory meal.
"I love to make different types of ethnic, gourmet-type food," he said. "To me that's kind of like being a scientist — where you get to eat your mistakes.
"Martha shares my passion for cooking. It's fun to be in the kitchen with her," Ketelaar said. "I guess it's nice to have a big kitchen, but it's more important to have the right partner. It's kind of like a dance."
Ketelaar is also an avid competitive cyclist, spending eight to 10 hours a week training and competing with a local club, Zia Velo Cycling Team. As a member of the amateur team, Ketelaar competes each May, along with five teammates, in the Tour of the Gila, a four-day, 540-kilometer stage race in and around Silver City.
"The thing I like about cycling that ties into everything else is that it's a real team sport — I'm not the star of the team," Ketelaar said. "I'm a support rider, and I think that's very much like what I'm doing here — I'm playing a supporting role in the Honors College, helping the students."
Honors College Dean Miriam Chaiken said she's excited about what Ketelaar brings to his new role.
"He has tremendous energy," she said. "He'll be very effective in working with students who are applying for competitive international scholarships and fellowships."
For information about the NMSU Honors College and the Office of National Scholarships and International Education, visit honors.nmsu.edu.