Faculty & staff
Greetings from the Academic Dean's Office!
Now that the summer is halfway through, I wanted to send you an update on how things are looking for fall. We are enjoying getting many new students registered, making plans for our fall Symposium on Global Sport, and getting faculty offices ready for our new colleagues. Since we have 12 new tenure-track faculty joining us this year, I thought I'd devote the entire summer newsletter to introducing you to them.
I know many of you will enjoy classes with these new faculty members in the fall, so be sure to give them a warm welcome. Also, if you are curious about the Westminster Symposium, check out the website to see the line-up of speakers .
This year's Symposium, as all the others, will be fantastic, and it will add richness to your learning experience and help you understand why the Westminster experience is so special. Please make sure you come to campus ready to enjoy another year of academic achievement, plenty of exciting and meaningful activities, and a lot of fun.
See you in August! Click here for the August calendar.
Senior VP of the College and Dean of Faculty
Yaseen S. Alhaj-Yaseen, Ph.D.: Business, Economics and Finance
Home country: Jordan
Previous teaching experience: Georgia Southern University, Kansas State University, and Texas Tech University
Prof. Alhaj-Yaseen sends his greetings: "It is an honor to join the community of Westminster College. In the past years, I have done extensive studying and research in the areas of International Finance and Investment, two important fields under the discipline of finance. The door to my office is open, so please don't hesitate to stop by to discuss topics in Finance, or anything else. I look forward to meeting you all!"
Katherine Benson, ABD: Mathematical Science
Hometown: Bemidji, Minnesota, near the headwaters of the Mississippi River
Hobbies: Swimming, cross-country skiing, running, and hiking, as well as reading and knitting
Prof. Benson sends these words: "I enjoyed attending Luther College, a liberal arts school in Decorah, Iowa, before going to graduate school at The University of Iowa. I really appreciated having the ability to take classes from multiple disciplines in college and am excited to be at Westminster where that concept is strongly encouraged as well."
Ryan Brunner, Ph.D.: Psychology
Education: B.A. in Psychology from the University of Missouri-Columbia; Ph.D. in social psychology from Ohio State University in 2009.
Research/Interests: Study of how the visual perspective used to recall past events affects current views of the self. Racial attitudes and how cognitive biases can explain unintentional forms of racial bias. Social psychology is one of Dr. Brunner's favorite classes to teach, and he loves to get students involved in observing and analyzing all of the weird things that people do.
Hobbies: Traveling with his wife and four children, reading, biking and hiking. He also enjoys playing and watching a variety of sports and is looking forward to trying out the frisbee golf course in Fulton.
Barri Bumgarner, Ph.D.: Education
As an author and an educator, Prof. Bumgarner introduces myself by emulating George Ella Lyons' "Where I'm From."
"I am from Dr. Seuss, Rudyard Kipling, and Casey at the Bat. I am from big brothers reading to me, and a family of high expectations. I am from The Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. I am from parents who told tall tales and our own Bumgarnerisms. I am from playing outside 'til after dark and being in sports year round. I am from the Chiefs, the Redbirds, and being the only non-Texan in my family. I am from teachers inspiring me to write and fostering dreams. I am from trying to be the next Stephen King, publishing a novel by 40, and a belief that dreams can be goals. I am from parents who inspired a love of learning, and from my decision to do the same for others.
I am from traditional education, diagramming sentences, and seeing the classroom as a platform for change. I am from innovative learning, from expressing ourselves by bleeding passion, and believing in choice. I am from embracing the digital era, from innovation to inspire kids to learn. I am from facilitation, constructivism, and the optimism that teachers can - and do - change the world.
I am from those who can do, by modeling, facilitating, and learning beside their students. I am from learning being fun, from books that excite, from lessons that give goosebumps. I am for the future of education, for a classroom in which children guide learning and teachers are there to help. I am from learning, no matter how it happens best."
Robert (Bob) Eames: Business
Prof. Eames started at Westminster as a part-time faculty member in the ABE-MIS Department, earned a one-year position with us, and then secured the tenure-track position in Business.
He sends these greetings: "I've had the privilege of teaching at Westminster College for four years now and I have to say that I'm absolutely thrilled to join the education community here on a permanent basis. My main goals are to be the best possible teacher that I can and to be as student-centered as possible while doing it.
A person who ought to be famous (my Dad), once said that 'it's not the specific work itself that always matters, but if it has to be done, get busy--then you can go play.' He also said, 'if you don't clean your plate, you'll have to eat it for breakfast tomorrow'--but let's put the former idea to work this school year. I'm always looking for new ways to update my classes and to engage my students, and especially to make connections to the real business world, so let's have a productive year and have some fun too. I'm looking forward to seeing you all in the fall."
Christopher Halsey, Ph.D.: Chemistry
Prof. Halsey was hired for a one-year position in Chemistry last year and was able to earn the tenure-track position. He spent the year getting a good sense of the value of a small, liberal arts education, and he is eager to share that with his students.
As he says, "Students, I hope someday you find the job that pays you to do the stuff you love like I have this past year teaching at Westminster. Now that I'll be staying for the long term, I've got several plans in the works that requires a lot of help from you, including a spring trip to Guatemala (the photo is from my 2012 trip), environmental monitoring of a nearby lake, chemical demonstrations, and research in the chemistry lab with no shortage of toys/instruments. Unlike the real world, no experience is necessary for these things - just interest. If you have that, stop on by sometime and we'll talk."
Nathaniel Leonard, ABD: English
Prof. Leonard says he is thrilled to join Westminster's English department faculty this fall. He has just finished his Ph.D. in English literature at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he had the opportunity to teach courses in Shakespeare, dramatic literature, world literature, and academic writing. His research focuses on the relationship between reflexivity and dramatic genre in early modern English drama, and he has recently published an article on the subject entitled "'Embracing the 'Mongrel:' John Marston's The Malcontent, Antonio and Mellida, and the Development of English Early Modern Tragicomedy."
In addition to his academic work, Prof. Leonard is committed to bringing dramatic texts to life on the stage and hopes that his extensive experience in both professional and student theatre will allow him to help strengthen the artistic community on Westminster's campus. He can't wait to get started in the fall and looks forward to getting to know the students and faculty.
Elizabeth "Liz" Peterson, ABD: Exercise Science
Hometown: Jefferson City, Missouri.
College honors: A decorated Big XII multi-event athlete for the University of Missouri Tigers during her undergraduate and master's studies.
Family: Prof. Peterson is one of four children and is very close with her family. She has one son and two daughters, is married and lives in Columbia, Missouri.
She says, "I am very optimistic about being a Westminster professor and is fulfilling a lifelong dream of being a teacher. When no one else is depending on me, I love to read, run, bike, dance, hike, travel, go on adventures, watch movies, smile, laugh, and learn. Mostly, I love being with my children, helping them to explore the wonder of the world hoping they will, as I do, maintain a constant state of inquisition and learning."
Enrique Salas-Durazo, Ph.D.: Spanish
Hometown/country: Guadalajara, México
Education: University of Guadalajara; Ph.D. in Spanish at the University of California, Riverside.
Previous experience: Professor of language and literature at the University of California, Riverside, and at Pacific Lutheran University, a liberal arts college in Washington State.
Scholarly research: Analysis and interpretation of the aesthetics of experimental novels and poetry in contemporary Latin American literature as well as interdisciplinary approaches to the study of literature and music.
Hobbies: Music and traveling in search of new experiences.
David Schmidt, Ph.D.: Environmental Science
Prof. Schmidt will join the Department of Biology and Environmental Science with several years of experience teaching. He sends this introduction: "I have spent the last nine years living in west Texas, but I was born and raised in the Midwest - it is so good to be back! Since I was a young boy, I have always had a passion for being outdoors and exploring nature.
Whenever I get the chance, I like to hike, camp, kayak, and collect fossils. In school, I studied geology and my areas of interest include sedimentology, paleontology, and environmental geology. Currently, I lead field expeditions to the Badlands of South Dakota for paleontological expeditions. I also enjoy music, movies, exercising, traveling, and love to spend time with my family. I look forward to the fall semester, and I am very excited to work with the students, faculty, and staff of Westminster."
Jillian Stupiansky, Ph.D.: Mathematical Science
Hometown: Lakewood, Ohio (just outside of Cleveland)
Education: Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama; PhD from University of Florida in Gainesville
Personal interests: Avid athlete. Played golf and basketball in high school, as well as golf in college. While in Florida she also served as the high school girls' golf coach at Oak Hall School, leading the team to the state tournament three years in a row.
Hobbies: Playing and watching sports, traveling, photography, reading, and playing games of any kind.
Kali Wright-Smith, Ph.D.: Political Science
Hometown: Festus, MO.
Education: 2004 graduate of Westminster College. Master's degree from Loyola University Chicago (2006), followed by a 2011 Ph.D. in Political Science from Purdue University.
Teaching interests: International relations, human rights, Latin American Politics, and international law and organizations.
Family: husband Ryan and her dog Winston.
Favorite spare time activities: Watching way too many movies and obsessing over St. Louis Blues hockey.