by Brianna Lindahl 

Fun fact: the Department of Music and Theater chairman went to a school that had a lake full of alligators.

Fun fact: the Biblical and Theological Studies Department chairman has adopted three dogs from the humane society and rides motorcycles.

Fun fact: the Department of Communication chairman has been chased by a moose.

The University of Northwestern – St. Paul is home to 254 faculty members dispersed throughout 17 departments of study. The following three chairman are small sample of the faculty at Northwestern.


Dr. Kirk Moss is passionate about the work he does (photo courtesy of Kirk Moss)

Dr. Kirk Moss, chairman of the music and theater department, is a music and sports enthusiast. He has co-authored three string method books and published seven orchestral pieces. He has guest conducted over 70 times throughout 40 states.

Moss’s biggest hobby is what he does at UNW every day. “I am so passionate about my work that my work and my play are kind of all intertwined,” Moss said. “I am blessed to have a vocation where I have flexibility to do different things and to pursue my creative pursuits and artistic pursuits over the years, and there’s a great deal of joy in that, and I’m just really grateful that I’m in that situation.”

When he is not making music, Moss is rooting for Chicago sports teams. “I grew up getting Chicago TV stations, and my dad was a Chicago sports fan, so I’m a big Cubs fan,” said Moss. “Last year was kind of a historic year last year for my sports rooting team.”

Headshot of Randy Nelson

Dr. Randy Nelson has been teaching for 23 years (photo courtesy of Randy Nelson)

Randy Nelson, Ph.D., chairman of the biblical and theological studies department, is an avid motorcyclist and biblical scholar. Nelson is a member of the Christian Motorcycle Association and the Fossil Apostles, a local motorcycle group. Two years ago, he bought a Honda Gold Wing. “The first summer that I had the Gold Wing I put on 17,000 miles,” he said.

After high school, Nelson worked as a manager at KFC. “I was 18 years old at the time, and they were 30, 40, 50 years old working 50 hours a week, and I thought, ‘I don’t know if I want to do this for the next 30, 40 years,’” Nelson said. He decided to go to school, and became a teacher. He has been teaching for 23 years.

Above all his interests and hobbies, Nelson is a teacher. “I met with a career counselor, just trying to talk about next steps and things, and the first thing I said to him was ‘I love what I do, and I love where I work.’ And he said, ‘Randy, I’ve never heard anybody say that before.’”

This semester, Nelson is teaching a class that he had never taught before. “I’m actually giddy when I get done with class,” said Nelson. “I love doing the prep work when I’m teaching the students how to interpret the Bible. It’s just a blast.”

Man fishing

Dr. Kent Kaiser fishing in Ostego Lake in Cooperstown, NY (photo courtesy of Kent Kaiser)

Kent Kaiser, chairman of the communication department, canoes, fishes, hunts and plays the bagpipes. After completing his Ph.D., Kaiser continued his education by learning the bagpipes. “It’s one of my favorite hobbies,” he said. Kaiser has played the bagpipes for six years; he takes weekly lessons and is part of a bagpipe band.

Kaiser enjoys traveling north towards the Boundary Waters. “My other big hobbies are canoeing and fishing,” said Kaiser. “I usually go on a few canoe trips, fishing trips, per year, and I always fish from canoe.” He went on three canoe trips this year.

Hunting and fishing provide for unpredictable encounters with nature and the inhabitants of the woods. Kaiser recently encountered a moose. While leaving the Boundary Waters after a day of grouse hunting, he saw a cow moose and got out of his truck to take pictures. “I heard this noise behind me that was a lot like a bullfrog, only I knew it wasn’t a bullfrog. It was a bull moose, and it was about 20 feet away from me. It had its head down, and it was pawing the ground like it was going to attack.” Kaiser ran to his truck as fast as he could and made it there safely. Kaiser drove away, but stopped to snap a selfie with the moose.

Moss, Nelson and Kaiser have very different experiences and interests, but they are all dedicated to their work at Northwestern. Fun fact: students at Northwestern have the opportunity to meet and get to know their department chairman as well as the rest of the faculty.


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