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32 new tenure-track faculty join Austin Peay State University


Austin Peay State UniversityClarksville, TN – A total of 32 new tenure-track faculty members have become part of the Austin Peay State University community, beginning with the Fall 2012 semester.

College of Arts and Letters: New faculty members are Dr. Robert Baron, Kenisha Burke, Michael Dunn, Dr. Sheena Harris, Dr. Katherine Honea, Dr. Anthony Morris, Dr. David Rands, Noel Rennerfeldt, Dr. Tamara Smithers and Brian Vernon.

Dr. Robert Baron, assistant professor of communication, recently earned his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, where he also received his B.A. in political science and communication studies and his M.A. in communication studies. While at Minnesota, Baron investigated the relationship between rhetoric and virtual world computer games. He plans to expand his research while at APSU to examine the continued development of the video and computer gaming industry as a new media institution.

Kenisha Burke, instructor of communication, received her B.S. in speech communication and her M.A. in communication and rhetorical studies from Syracuse University. In 2008, she received a Skuse Fellowship from that University, the same year she participated in the Middle East Leadership Project, where she led 20 participants from that region in discussions about argumentation, dialogue, conflict and debate as it relates to democracy. She comes to APSU from Dutchess Community College, where she taught courses on public speaking, intercultural communication, human communication and argumentation.

Michael Dunn, instructor of communication, has a long history of studying and working at APSU. In 1996, he earned his B.S. in mass communication from the University, going on to receive his M.A. in corporate communication from APSU in 2000. Over the years, he has served as an adjunct professor for the department of communication and the department of health and human performance. In 2009, he served as advising coordinator for the APSU Center for Teaching and Learning’s Title III Grant, and in 2011, he was named interim director of new student programs/student transitions at the University.

Dr. Sheena Harris, assistant professor of history, served as a supply sergeant in Iraq in 2003, as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. When she returned, she received her B.S. in political science from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. From there, she earned her master’s in history from Florida A & M University, and in May 2012, she graduated from the University of Memphis with her Ph.D. in history. She brings to APSU a wealth of research interests, particularly 19th and 20th century African-American history, pioneer women educators during the Jim Crow Era and the black elite. She also served as a research assistant at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.

Dr. Katherine Honea, assistant professor of languages and literature, recently graduated from the University of Florida with her Ph.D. in Spanish. She originally earned her B.S. in business administration from California State University, Sacramento in 2001, but went on to receive her M.A. in Spanish from that school in 2007. During her time at Florida, she served as an assistant instructor with the Center of European Studies and as a graduate teaching assistant and a research assistant with the department of Spanish and Portuguese studies. She has traveled extensively, receiving numerous travel grants and a research scholarship to do field work, in addition to giving numerous presentations at national and international conferences.

Dr. Anthony Morris, assistant professor of art, spent the last two years at Mississippi State University as a visiting assistant professor. In that time, he taught a variety of courses, including Honors Art Appreciation, History of Art, European Modernism, Contemporary Abstraction and Gender and Race in Art. Morris received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio art from Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. He then traveled east to Kent State University, where he earned an M.A. in art history with an emphasis in modern and contemporary art. In 2010, he graduated from Case Western Reserve University with his Ph.D. in art history, writing his dissertation on “The Censored Paintings of Paul Cadmus.”

Dr. David Rands, assistant professor of history, specializes in modern Japanese history, as well as additional fields of early Japanese history, TransPacific history and urban history. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in history, minoring in Asian studies, from Brigham Young University. He then traveled to Japan, where he worked and studied as a researcher for Kyoto University. In 2002, he graduated from Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto with a Master of Arts in international relations. He returned to the United States, and in 2011, he was awarded his Ph.D. in history from the University of Southern California.

Noel Rennerfeldt, assistant professor of theater and dance, is bringing to APSU his knowledge and experience in the important theatrical field of scenic design. For the last 26 years, he has worked as a professor of theater at Rockford College, and his resume is loaded with professional scenic design experience, ranging from operas such as The Marriage of Figaro to musicals like Footloose to non-musical productions, including The Diary of Anne Frank and Night of the Iguana. Rennerfeldt earned his B.S. in theater from Wayne State College in Nebraska, his M.A. in scenic design from Miami University of Ohio and his Master of Fine Arts from Northern Illinois University.

Dr. Tamara Smithers, assistant professor of art, traveled to Rome in 2011 thanks to a National Endowment for the Humanities Seminar grant she received. While in Italy, she spent time studying the Renaissance tombs of artists for her dissertation, “Memorializing the Masters,” while a Ph.D. student at Temple University. Smithers earned two B.A. degrees from the College of Charleston, in studio art and art history, and went on to receive an M.A. in art history from the University of Washington. In the spring, she finished her studies at Temple, earning her doctorate in art history, with an emphasis on Italian renaissance art.

Brian Vernon, chair of the APSU Area of Theater and Dance, previously served as a tenured associate professor and director of dance at Alabama State University, where he created a new B.F.A. in dance program. Before that, he was an associate professor and coordinator of dance at the University of Central Florida. Vernon received his B.F.A. in dance education, with an emphasis in tap, jazz and theater, from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. He then went to the University of California, Irvine, where he earned an M.F.A. in dance education. He has spent several years as a guest artist and master teacher in South Africa, working with the Cape Town City Ballet Company, and his dance and choreography work has been featured in numerous recitals, musical theater productions and television and film programs.

College of Behavioral and Health Sciences

New faculty members are Dr. Michelle Emery Blake, Donna Dey, Jodi Kushner, Dr. John LaForest Phillips, Mary Eve Rice, Henry Christian Tecklenburg IV and Judith Vaughan.

Dr. Michelle Emery Blake comes to APSU as a new assistant professor of social work. She previously taught in the department of law, politics and society at the University of Evansville (Ind.), where she also was the coordinator of gender and women’s studies. Blake has presented at several meetings and conferences throughout the country and has published extensively. Other past teaching posts have included Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, University of Southern Indiana in Evansville, Florida A&M University in Tallahassee and Florida State University in Tallahassee. She received a Bachelor of Arts in history from Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Louisville and a Ph.D. in social work from Florida State University.

Soon after earning a master’s degree in sports and wellness leadership, Donna Dey, instructor of health and human performance, began teaching health and human performance courses as an adjunct instructor for her alma mater, where she is a member of Phi Kappa Phi. She also is an American Red Cross CPR and first aid instructor. Prior to teaching at APSU, she worked as a counselor for Child and Youth Services at Fort Campbell, Ky. From 2000-06, she was a surgical technician with the 86th Combat Support Hospital at Fort Campbell. Dey earned an associate degree from Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Ga., before coming to APSU to receive a bachelor’s degree in health and human performance.

Jodi Kushner is assistant professor of nursing and joins the tenure-track ranks after having taught at APSU since 2010, first as a clinical instructor then as an assistant professor. Prior to joining the nursing faculty, she was a registered nurse at Gateway Medical Center from 2008-2012 and at the Academy for Academic Excellence from 2010-11. Kushner continues to volunteer her services at the Academy for Academic Excellence. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau and the Tennessee Nurses Association. She received both her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in Nursing degrees from APSU.

Dr. John LaForest Phillips, assistant professor of political science, most recently was a visiting assistant professor of philosophy politics and economics at Duke University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Phillips has published in the Journal of Religion and Politics and currently has a number of papers either pending publication or in the works. A native Frenchman with French, American and British citizenships, he is fluent in Italian and German. He earned a baccalaureate degree from Lycee International de St. Germain en Laye in France, bachelor’s in political economy and German studies from Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., and both his master’s and doctoral degrees in political science from Brown University in Providence, R.I.

Mary Eve Rice, assistant professor of nursing, returns to APSU after having worked as a certified pediatric nurse practitioner at the Premier Medical Group in Clarksville from 2006-12 and at the Vanderbilt Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital. Prior to working at Premier and Vanderbilt, Rice was associate professor of nursing. She also has worked as a registered nurse for Gateway Health Systems in Clarksville. Rice holds memberships in the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, the Tennessee Pediatric Nurse Practititoners and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from APSU and a master’s in child health from Stony Brook (N.Y.) University.

Henry Christian Tecklenburg IV joins APSU as an instructor in the political science department. Prior to coming to APSU, he was an instructor at the University of Florida in Gainesville, having taught courses in law and society and constitutional law. He also previously worked as an associate attorney at a law firm in Charleston, S.C., where he litigated and researched real property and corporate disputes and performed purchase and refinance transactions. Tecklenburg earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, Juris Doctor from USC’s School of Law and his Master of Arts degree in political science from the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he currently is pursuing his doctoral degree.

With more than 30 years of nursing experience, Judith Vaughan comes to APSU as an assistant professor of nursing. Most recently, she was a public health nurse consultant with the Bureau of TennCare, where she handled quality oversight duties. From 2009-10, she taught as an adjunct faculty member at Tennessee Wesleyan College. She holds memberships in the American Nurses Association, Tennessee Nurses Association, National Alaska Native American Indian Nurses Association and the Tennessee Public Health Association. Vaughan earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Tennessee and a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Phoenix.

College of Business

New faculty members are Dr. Susan Cockrell and Dr. Michael Kenneth Holt.

Dr. Susan Cockrell, associate professor and chair of accounting, finance and economics, is no stranger to APSU. During the 2011-12 academic year, she was a visiting professor and also previously taught at APSU from 2000-05. Cockrell also has taught at Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Ala., Shippensburg (Pa.) University, Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va., Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas and Troy (Ala.) State University. She has published extensively in numerous journals, books and other publications. She earned her Bachelor of Science in business administration, Master of Administrative Science and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Dr. Michael Kenneth Holt is the new associate professor and chair of management, marketing and business. He comes to APSU from Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Mo., where he was chair of the M.B.A. curriculum and associate professor. He previously taught at a number of postsecondary institutions, including Greenville (Ill.) College, Lambuth University (now defunct) in Jackson, Tenn., Union University in Jackson, Tenn., Bethel College in McKenzie, Tenn., University of Orleans in France, Harbin Engineering University in China and Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Holt has published extensively, with a few articles under review for publication. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and finance from Union University, master’s in economics from Louisiana State University and a doctoral degree in management from the University of Memphis.

College of Education

The new faculty members are Dr. Gina Grogan, Dr. Anthony Ray Sanders, Dr. Thomas Stewart, Erin Lynch Walden, Shirley Walrond and Dr. Leah Whitten.

Dr. Gina Grogan, assistant professor of education, has years of experience as a classroom teacher, both in collegiate and public school settings. While earning her Master of Arts in exceptional education from Western Kentucky University, she worked as a special education teacher at Portland Middle School in Tennessee. She later worked for Springfield Middle School and for Shwab Elementary in Nashville. In 2008, when she began pursuing her Doctorate of Education at Tennessee State University, she took several teaching assignments at institutions of higher learning, such as the University of Phoenix, Liberty University in Virginia, Nashville State Community College and Middle Tennessee State University.

Dr. Anthony Ray Sanders, assistant professor of education, comes to APSU with extensive leadership experience in the realm of public education. He has worked over the years in Kentucky school systems as a teacher, principal, an assistant superintendant for Davies’ County Public Schools and a district support facilitator and a district achievement gap coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Education. Sanders earned his Bachelor of Science from Western Kentucky University and his Master of Arts in Education from Murray State University. He then returned to WKU to receive his certification for school superintendent. In 2005, Sanders graduated from the University of Louisville with a Doctor of Philosophy in education leadership and organizational development.

Dr. Thomas Stewart, assistant professor of education, joined the APSU faculty in January, shortly after earning his Doctor of Education from Western Kentucky University. He previously received both his Bachelor of Arts in English literature and his Master of Arts in Education from that institution, and in 2008, he earned his Superintendent Certification from the University of Kentucky. Stewart spent about 10 years as a public school language arts teacher before taking a position with the Kentucky Department of Education as a highly skilled educator. He went on to serve as the instructional programs coordinator and the teacher quality and leadership development coordinator with the Simpson County School System, and as the secondary instructional supervisor/director of assessment and personnel with the Logan County School System.

Erin Lynch Walden, instructor of educational specialties, has worked in various capacities over the years as both a teacher and a writer. Shortly after earning her Bachelor of Arts in English and secondary education from James Madison University, she went to work as a technical writer and proofreader for NedlawDeer Inc. in Washington, D.C. She then spent several years in public school systems, teaching English in Virginia and in Clarksville. In 2006, while teaching at Kenwood High School, she received her Master of Arts in special education from Vanderbilt University. Since 2010, she has taught and held numerous academic positions at institutions such as Lipscomb University, Tennessee State University and Columbia Southern University.

Shirley Walrond, instructor of teaching and learning, is a graduate of Radford University in Virginia, where she earned her B.S. in elementary education, and Virginia Tech University, where she received her Master of Arts in Education. For more than 20 years, she worked as a public school teacher, serving on many academic committees and professional organizations, such as the Roanoke County Gifted Council and the National Association of Science Teachers. In 2004, she joined the University of Louisiana Lafayette as an adjunct professor, and in 2008, she served as coordinator of general studies and coordinator of the Associate of Science in Teaching degree at South Louisiana Community College.

Dr. Leah Whitten, assistant professor of education, graduated from Auburn University a year ago with her Doctor of Philosophy in educational psychology. She originally received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of North Alabama in entertainment industry management, but in 2006, she graduated from that same University with a Master of Arts in Education. Whitten has served in several academic roles, both in public schools and at the university level, working as a high school technology and business teacher in Alabama, and later as an academic tutor for athletes and a test proctor for students with disabilities at Auburn University. Throughout her academic career, she has received numerous awards, such as the 2010 Leeds City Educational Foundation Grant, and her research has been presented at the American Association of Behavioral and Social Sciences Annual Meeting in Las Vegas.

College of Science and Mathematics

New faculty members are Audrey Bullock, Dr. Nicholas Coleman, Brett Digman, Dr. Kallina Dunkle, Dr. Indranil Ghosh and Dr. Leslie Hiatt.

Audrey Bullock, instructor of mathematics, was recently an APSU student, receiving her M.A. in curriculum and instruction with a mathematics specialization from this University last year. She earned her B.A. in mathematics education in 2007 from Indiana State University, and went on to work as a math teacher at Montgomery Central High School. Bullock brings with her extensive knowledge of the Singapore Bar Model Method of instruction, as well as experience in virtual learning and interventions for struggling students.

Dr. Nicholas Coleman, assistant professor of computer science, spent the last six years as an assistant professor with the West Virginia University Institute of Technology, where he taught a range of courses from Android programming to formal reasoning and logic programming to Introduction to Computer Security. He earned his B.A. in computer science from Wesleyan University and his M.S. and Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Wisconsin. Earlier this year, his article “Distributed Policy Specification and Interpretation with Classified Advertisements” was published in the Fourteenth International Symposium on Practical Aspects of Declarative Languages.

Brett Digman, assistant professor of chemical engineering technology, earned his Bachelor of Science at Bowling Green State University and his Master of Chemical Engineering at the University of Toledo in Ohio. It was at that institution that he was named the College of Engineering’s Outstanding Teaching Assistant. Digman is the author of several academic articles that have been published in scholarly journals, such as Environmental Progress. He has also presented his research at major national conferences, including the American Institute of Chemical Engineers meeting and the North American Membrane Society meeting.

Dr. Kallina Dunkle, assistant professor of geosciences, recently earned her Doctor of Philosophy in geology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. That university is also where she received her Master of Science in geology, after previously earning her B.S. from Oklahoma State University. She brings a wealth of research experience with her to APSU, having served as a research assistant and project assistant for the last two years with the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey. During her academic career, she earned numerous distinctions, including the Thomas E. Berg Award for Excellence in Teaching, in addition to presenting at numerous events, such as the Wisconsin Groundwater Association Conference.

Dr. Indranil Ghosh, assistant professor of statistics, began his academic career in India, where he earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in statistics at the University of Calcutta. From there, he went to the University of California, Riverside, where, as a Ph.D. student, he was awarded a Dean’s Distinguished Fellowship. He is the author of several published scholarly articles, and his time at UC Riverdale provided him with numerous research opportunities.

Dr. Leslie Hiatt, assistant professor of chemistry, graduated from Vanderbilt University with her Ph.D. in May 2011, after conducting research on the immunological consequences of tuberculosis exposure. She previously earned her B.A. in biochemistry, with a minor in mathematics, from Freed-Hardeman University. She first arrived at APSU in the spring of 2011 as an adjunct professor, while also performing teaching lecturer duties at Lipscomb University and Vanderbilt. In addition to her work on tuberculosis exposure, she is currently interested in the research of carotenoid electrochemistry.

School of Technology and Public Management

New faculty member is Dr. Na (Linda) Zhu.

Dr. Na (Linda) Zhu, assistant professor of mechanical and automotive engineering technology, joined APSU in January, shortly after earning her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan. A native of China, she received her Bachelor of Science in automobile engineering from Tongji University in Shanghai and her Master of Science in mechanical engineering from Wayne State University. She has had several academic papers published in scholarly journals, such as the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, and she won the 2009 Best Student Paper Competition at the ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition.

New one-year, temporary faculty members are Laura Camp, instructor of physics and astronomy; Poliala Dickson, instructor of health and human performance; Lydia Fleming, instructor of languages and literature; John Genis, instructor of public management and criminal justice; Virginia Griswold, visiting assistant professor of art; Morgan Higby-Flowers, visiting assistant professor of art; Rachel Lewis, instructor of biology; Robin L. Moss, instructor of languages and literature; Jesse Shaw, assistant professor of art; Karen Stine, instructor of mathematics and statistics; Amber Sullivan, instructor of mathematics and statistics; Jeffrey D. Thompson, assistant professor of social work; Ling Wang, instructor of languages and literature; and Colleen White, instructor of biology.




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