Gretchen Kreahling McKay is a tenured professor of Art History at McDaniel College. She is also currently the Chair of the Department of Art and Art History. She speaks at conferences and offers workshops on active learning in the higher education classroom, whether the mode of instruction be face-to-face, blended, or online. Winner of the 2015 Ira G. Zepp Distinguished Teaching Award at McDaniel College, she is known for her innovative classroom activities and deep student engagement across instructional platforms. She was invited to speak at ITHAKA’s 2016 Next Wave conference on the intersection of technology and higher education and is a faculty mentor for the Council of Independent College’s second Consortium for Online Humanities Instruction, having participated in the first consortium as creator and instructor of her online course “Ways of Seeing Byzantium.”
McKay began her exploration of teaching techniques beyond the lectern when she first discovered the immersive role-playing pedagogy, Reacting to the Past, in 2006. In 2007, she first used the Reacting to the Past in her courses, and in 2011 was elected to the Reacting Consortium board. In 2012 she was named the Outreach Committee chair, moderating the closed Facebook group to support other faculty in teaching with Reacting. She led the Reacting Consortium Board as chair from 2016 to 2017. She has written several articles on Reacting to the Past and its role in active learning. Her Reacting to the Past game, Modernism vs. Traditionalism: Art in Paris, 1888-89, co-written with Nicolas W. Proctor and Michael A. Marlais, has been used by over forty instructors nationwide and internationally. Art in Paris will be published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2018.
McKay is a published author of several articles on Byzantine art and iconography and has spoken at numerous conferences on the intersection of medieval art and theology. She has most recently taken her Byzantine scholarship into the realm of the digital humanities with her exploration of late thirteenth-century Italo-Byzantine panel paintings of the Virgin and Child based on the “elousa” Byzantine type. This project will offer collaboration with undergraduate students, another indication of McKay’s commitment to engaging practices in her teaching career. Her knowledge of digital pedagogy was strengthened when she was accepted by competitive application to a two week workshop at George Mason University, “Rebuilding the Portfolio: Digital Humanities for Art History,” which was fully funded by the Getty Foundation.
In addition to her teaching focus, McKay has held numerous leadership positions in higher education during her fifteen-year tenure at McDaniel College. She has been the Director of the Honors Program, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Special Assistant to the President, Director of the Center for Faculty Excellence, and Director of Undergraduate Research in the Humanities. She was also co-chair of the institution’s reaccreditation steering committee, leading a three-year reaccreditation process. She has had extensive higher education leadership training, including attending the Higher Education Resource Services (HERS) Summer Institute for Women in Higher Education Administration at Bryn Mawr College in 2007. She is currently serving as the faculty mentor to the McDaniel College football team (division 3).
Prior to arriving at McDaniel College, McKay taught for four years at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, GA, which was her first teaching assignment after receiving her Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Virginia. Her specialization is in early Christian and Byzantine art. Her dissertation examined the image of the Ancient of Days in illustrated Byzantine manuscripts. She holds a M.A. from the University of Virginia and a B.A. from Colby College.
McKay travels often and recently visited Greece and France. She enjoys reading in her spare time, as well as running, yoga, and painting.