HPU Announces New Faculty

HPU Staff

HIGH POINT, N.C., Oct. 15, 2019 – High Point University welcomed 38 new faculty members to the David R. Hayworth College of Arts and Sciences, School of Art and Design, Wanek School of Natural Sciences, Congdon School of Health Sciences, Fred Wilson School of Pharmacy, Earl N. Philips School of Business, Nido R. Qubein School of Communication and Webb School of Engineering. 

David R. Hayworth College of Arts and Sciences

HPU facultyMr. Ken Elston, Associate Dean of the David R. Hayworth College of Arts and Sciences, Professor of Theatre and Director of Performing Arts

As associate dean, Mr. Ken Elston will address the investments that HPU is making in the arts and will lend his experience to make those investments succeed. He will also be teaching a freshman course titled, “That’s My Jam: Entertainment and the Greater Good.” Elston has written short works for museums and historic sites including the Museum of the United States Marine Corps. He has also written plays, including pieces for Disney, regional companies, and contributed to veterans in the arts initiatives. For the past 18 years, Elston taught and served as an administrator at George Mason University. First, he was named chair of the Department of Theater and then as the director of the School of Theater, which was named best theater program in Virginia for the last five years. He went to Mason after four years as part of the graduate faculty at Western Illinois University. Prior to that he worked as an actor, director and producer in New York City, with stints in Seattle, Washington, Kansas City, Missouri, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and London. Elston earned his Master of Fine Arts in acting and directing from Ohio State University. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in theater and political science from Temple University, and earned honors from Nanjing University.

“When you love what you do, that energy is apparent and, generally, contagious,” says Elston. “As an artist-mentor, it has been my experience that students get most excited during the creation of their own work and unique artistic voice. I believe that creating an environment for that development and welcoming that growth both honors the student’s journey and sends the message that I am ready to work with my colleagues to create the kind of impact we wish for our students.”


Dr. Amanda Allen, Instructor of History

Dr. Amanda Allen teaches a variety of history courses including Western Civilization, British History and the history senior seminar. She specializes in British history medieval through modern, but her particular focus is primarily the English Reformation. She published her first book in fall 2018 titled, “The Eucharistic Debate in Tudor England: Thomas Cranmer, Stephen Gardiner and the English Reformation.” It covers the Eucharistic theological changes ushered in during Edward VI’s reign (1547-1553) through the lens of a religious and personal debate between reformer Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer and traditionalist Stephen Gardiner. Her next project will focus on the ways in which English Protestant propaganda negatively portrayed Catholic women as a socio-political commentary against women in power. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in religious studies from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, her Master of Theological Studies from Vanderbilt University and her Ph.D. in British history from Louisiana State University. Before coming to HPU, she worked as an assistant professor of history at Brewton-Parker College. She also serves as an Executive Councilor for the Southern Conference on British Studies.

“I try to engage my students by being excited myself,” says Allen. “I love anything British, so my love and excitement transfers to my classroom instruction. I also try to facilitate discussion so the students can talk about their own connections to what we are learning and help each other learn more. I also find out-of-the-box topics or activities, such as having students use our primary sources to recreate important court trials in class, or creating fun, modern Facebook pages about historical figures. Bringing it to life really helps get students engaged.” 


Dr. Elizabeth Bennett, Assistant Professor of Psychology

Dr. Elizabeth Bennett teaches abnormal psychology and introduction to psychology. She is also assisting in the internship program for psychology majors. Her primary research focus includes identity and embodied trauma in pregnancy and early motherhood, and feminist-informed mentoring as a modality for increasing empowerment and facilitating social change. In addition to these focal areas, she is broadly interested in theoretical questions involving feminism, trauma and methodology issues, as well as the application of feminist principles to the teaching of psychology. She earned her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Duquesne University and completed her doctoral internship at Western Carolina University.

“I get excited to teach students in the classroom because I repeatedly ask them, ‘How is our subject material important for your engagement with the larger world? How do you plan to facilitate and inspire positive social change with what you are learning in psychology?’ says Bennett. “I take a collaborative and empowerment model to my teaching, which I hope is both high impact and also gets students acquainted with my perspective on what’s important in psychology and in education.”


Dr. Ashley Dreff, Assistant Professor of Religion and Director of Women and Gender Studies

Dr. Ashley Dreff teaches identity, gender and social justice, as well as criminal minds and bodies: narratives of gender, crime and deviance. The majority of her courses cover religion and gender from an interdisciplinary perspective. Dreff’s area of expertise is the history of sexuality and gender in America and how American Christian denominations have responded to the various changes in sexuality and gender across the 20th century. In 2018, Dreff published a book titled, “Entangled: A History of American Methodism, Politics and Sexuality,” which received the Saddlebag Award from the Historical Society of the United Methodist Church. She is writing her second book tentatively entitled, “Do Everything: Methodist Women and Politics,” which surveys how Methodist women have engaged in politics as an expression of their lived theology. Dreff earned her Ph.D. in American religious history with concentrations in Methodist history, Wesleyan studies and Women/Gender studies from Drew Theological School. She received her Master of Arts from University of Chicago Divinity School and her Bachelor of Arts from University of Arkansas. She has a certificate in online teaching from the Association of Theological Schools.

“I hope to help students realize not only the importance of women’s history and women’s voices, but also the histories and voices of all genders, especially those who identify as non-binary and trans,” says Dreff. “I fully believe and actively teach that a premier life skill for our students’ futures is the ability to understand diverse identities, to thrive within increasing diversity, and to help those who have been marginalized throughout history to thrive in a more equitable future.”


Dr. Michael Flatt, Assistant Professor of English

Dr. Michael Flatt teaches literature and creative, professional and technical writing courses along with publishing and editing courses. Flatt is the founder of the literary teaching press Threadsuns, through which students help publish books of fiction, poetry and works in translation. His areas of study include contemporary poetry and new media. Flatt has published two collections of poetry and runs the micro-press Low Frequency. Flatt earned his Bachelor of Arts and Ph.D. in English from the University at Buffalo and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Colorado at Boulder. 

“I do my best to engage students by meeting them at their points of interest,” says Flatt. “I think digital culture is fascinating to all of us, and so that plays a key role in all my teaching.”


Dr. Brett Geiger, Assistant Professor of Mathematics

Dr. Brett Geiger teaches linear algebra and two sections of HPU’s newly remodeled applied mathematical models for business. Geiger will be focused on bringing new interdisciplinary research to HPU. His main areas of research and expertise are in applied probability and mathematical neuroscience. In particular, he is interested in applying probabilistic techniques to models in biology and all sciences to extract information on rare events of interest. One example of a rare event in biology is a mutation, which could be beneficial or harmful to a particular cell. On the mathematical neuroscience side, he is interested in modeling how the brain integrates self-motion cues and landmark information in order to update an animal’s sense of position in an environment. Geiger has three years of teaching experience at the high school level. He also completed a two-year Visiting Assistant Professorship at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Geiger earned his Ph.D. from the University of Houston and Master of Science in community and technical college mathematics from Nicholls State University.

“I am excited to teach my classes because my research areas heavily use elements from linear algebra and calculus,” says Geiger. “Thus, my research naturally becomes examples in which I can show explicitly how these concepts can be used to obtain deep mathematical and biological information from a particular model.”


Dr. Dandrielle Lewis, Chair of the Department of Mathematical Sciences and Associate Professor of Mathematics

Dr. Dandrielle Lewis teaches a calculus for business course and chairs HPU’s Department of Mathematical Sciences. Her areas of expertise and research are in Finite Group Theory, and the foundations of her research are taught in linear algebra and abstract algebra. Lewis also has K-12 mathematical research interests and interdisciplinary interests. She is extremely passionate about creating opportunities to increase the representation of diverse groups and women in STEM. She has a bachelor’s degree from Winston-Salem State University, a master’s degree from the University of Iowa and a Ph.D. from Binghamton University, SUNY. She previously worked as director of Liberal Studies and associate professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

“I hope to impact students by exposing them to exciting mathematical opportunities during their undergraduate career,” says Lewis. “I hope to create an atmosphere where they can thrive in their courses, in the mathematical community locally and nationally, participate in faculty/student collaborative research, and create a mathematical safe space where they can have fun learning and doing mathematics. My goal is to get them excited by providing hands-on learning and research experiences, outreach opportunities, internship possibilities and exposure — showing them that math is exciting and fun.”



Dr. Jacob Perry, Visiting Assistant Professor of Mathematics

Dr. Jacob Perry teaches applied mathematical models for business and calculus. Perry studies mathematical analysis, specifically partial and ordinary differential equations inspired by mathematical physics. Perry received his Bachelor of Science in mathematics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master of Arts in education from Wake Forest University. He received his Ph.D. in mathematics from UNC-Chapel Hill.

I hope to emphasize to students how mathematical reasoning and problem solving is about developing logical tools to help break down, analyze and synthesize solutions to real-world problems,” says Perry.



Carmen Obregón Salama, Instructor of Spanish

FacultyOriginally from Venezuela, Carmen graduated with a law degree from Universidad Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho, Venezuela, in 2001 and a master’s degree in labor law in 2003. The same year she moved to Greensboro, North Carolina, to attend Greensboro College, where she completed her teaching certification in Spanish. In 2016, she graduated with a Master of Arts in romance languages and literatures with a concentration in Spanish at UNC-Greensboro.

Her teaching experience includes Distance Learning Spanish instruction, Spanish as a Second Language (all levels including adults), along with teaching grades nine through 12 and beginning and intermediate levels at the university level. In addition, she has accompanied several groups abroad (Mexico, Costa Rica and Spain) from both high school and college. During her teaching career, she has been actively involved in study abroad programs, curricular material review committees, learning service projects and research. Moreover, the foundation of her teaching philosophy stems from a student-centered approach: teaching across the curriculum, making use of technology, implementing communicative approaches and adapting her classes to multiple learning styles. As a result, she has been involved in committees to review curriculum materials that are relevant for diverse student populations, including cross-curricular content and the integration of technology aligned to the district and state standards.

“As an educator, I always look for opportunities to challenge my students by implementing in the classroom what I have learned in professional development workshops, graduate courses and research,” says Carmen. “In addition, I find it important to continue my education by attending conferences and workshops, nationally and internationally, that concentrate on second language acquisition. During my 16 years of experience as an educator, I have found that innovative approaches, along with rigor, have a positive impact on the way students view learning whether it be a second language or a literary text. Not only do they improve their oral, written and thinking skills, but learning becomes a positive experience that will provide them with the necessary tools to excel as professionals and leaders. Likewise, I ensure a judgment-free classroom and establish a space where students are not afraid to experiment with a new language.”

Her publications include “From Physical to Moral Shackles: Divided Identities in Nineteenth-Century Cuban Antislavery Literature,” “Labor Arbitration: Law and Equity as a Mechanism for Conflict Resolution” and “Procedural Delay in Labor Cases. Labour Act of 1997.”


FacultyMs. Vandy Scoates, Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre

Ms. Vandy Scoates teaches theatrical design and production. She also helps with designing for department productions and mentors student designers. Scoates is a scenographer and is in charge of designing costumes, sets and lighting for theatrical productions. Her area of research focuses on sustainability in the arts, specifically on environmental and economic sustainability for theater.

“I love what I do, and I get excited about passing my knowledge and passion on to my students,” says Scoates. “I strive to be constantly energetic, collaborative and innovative in both my design and teaching in order to invigorate my students about the multi-faceted field of theater.”

Scoates has been a professional costume, set and lighting designer, scenic artist, seamstress and carpenter for the past 19 years across the country. Most recently, she was teaching at Limestone College in South Carolina as an assistant professor and chair of the design program in the Theatre Department. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from California State University Fullerton, a Master of Arts from Villanova University and a Master of Fine Arts from UNC Greensboro.


Mr. Andrew Tzavaras, Instructor of History

Mr. Andrew Tzavaras teaches courses in European history from ancient times until World War II. His research centers on the late medieval and early modern Mediterranean. He focuses on the building, deployment and technology of Italian warships within the context of economics, diplomacy and cross-cultural and religious conflict that characterizes Mediterranean warfare of the period. His previous research has focused on the Republic of Venice, and his current research involves the Medici in Tuscany. 

Tzavaras has previously served as a supplemental instructor, tutor and adjunct instructor for HPU’s Department of History, a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Oxford, and editor of “The Journal of the Ordnance Society,” “New Collection” and “History and Uniforms.” He studied communication with minors in philosophy and history as an undergraduate student at HPU, received his master’s degree in history from HPU and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. at New College, University of Oxford.

“I’m hoping that through class discussion, activities and multi-media projects, students won’t see history in its stereotypical ‘names and dates’ format, but rather characters and events that form the narrative of our cultural heritage,” says Tzavaras.


Dr. Lauren Brooks, Visiting Assistant Professor of German

Dr. Lauren Brooks currently teaches German language classes at HPU. Brooks’ area of expertise includes Franz Kafka, 20th century German literature, the German Novella, project-based assessment in the foreign language classroom and foreign language pedagogy.

“I am passionate about German, and my enthusiasm is infectious,” says Brooks. “Students reap the benefits of learning a language as it opens their minds to new possibilities and adventures. In my courses, students learn not only about the language, but also the culture by drawing comparisons to their own traditions and customs.”

She has taught all levels of German language, content and culture classes for the past 10 years at California State University Long Beach and at Penn State University. Before that, she lived in Bremen, Germany, for almost seven years where she taught English to private and business professionals. Brooks also taught German at a middle school for three years in Pennsylvania while working on a second master’s degree and finishing her dissertation. Brooks has a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in German, a Ph.D. in German Literature and Culture and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a PK-12 Teaching Certificate in German.


Ms. Jessica Higgins, Instructor of English

Ms. Jessica Higgins teaches first-year writing, Caribbean literature and surveys in literature. She brings 19 years of higher education teaching to HPU including working as an associate professor of English at Broward College. She is a generalist in English composition and literature and has taught a wide variety of courses. Higgins earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in English, both from Bemidji State University.

“The best part of my work is the conversations I get to enjoy with my students,” says Higgins. “I enjoy engaging them in the classroom with a variety of active learning strategies and technologies.”



Dr. Laura Nagy, Assistant Professor of Psychology

Dr. Laura Nagy teaches introduction to psychology, as well as courses related to clinical psychology including abnormal psychology, counseling and psychotherapy, and psychological testing. Nagy’s research focuses on borderline personality disorder and related phenomena such as self-criticism, rumination and non-suicidal self-injury. She also studies how mindfulness and related constructs like self-compassion can serve as protective factors against and as treatments for mental health issues.

“I enjoy drawing on past clinical experiences to bring topics discussed in class to life,” says Nagy. “I am also excited to develop a research program at HPU that involves undergraduate researchers.”

She has previously taught a range of courses at the University of Kentucky and at Eastern Kentucky University. She’s also worked as a therapist in several different clinical settings, including a community mental health clinic, a state-run inpatient psychiatric hospital, a university counseling center, a rehabilitation hospital, a domestic violence shelter and a pain clinic. Nagy earned her Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Georgia, a Master of Science in clinical psychology from the University of Kentucky and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Kentucky.



Dr. Timothy O’Keefe, Visiting Assistant Professor of English

Dr. Timothy O’Keefe teaches Other Americas and Critical Interpretations literature courses at HPU. His area of expertise includes creative writing, poetry and creative nonfiction, contemporary poetry, prosody and poetics, and the lyric essay. Before joining HPU, he taught for seven years at Piedmont College and directed its creative writing program. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from Middlebury College, a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. from the University of Utah.

“As a professor, I’ve always set a basic rule for myself: teach what you’re passionate about,” says O’Keefe. “Not only does this make me more energized and articulate about the content of my courses, but it gives students a model for how to identify with one’s work. It also provides them a glimpse of who I am outside the classroom, which I think is vitally important.”



FacultyDr. Matthew Slifko, Assistant Professor of Statistics

Dr. Matthew Slifko teaches introductory statistics courses and courses in the new data analytics and statistics program. He will also help grow and develop the data analytics and statistics major and minor. He is a computational statistician with interests in using complex data to solve real-world problems. His research focuses on data visualization, clustering, prediction and anomaly detection.

“Fortunately, I am teaching in a field that has a great career outlook,” says Slifko. “The truth is that nearly everyone is collecting data, but few know how to effectively use complex data to answer questions. My goal is to develop a skillset in our students so that they have both the technical ability to provide data-driven solutions and the ability to effectively communicate these ideas to others. This combination will make them highly marketable.”

He received a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, a Master of Science in mathematics from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in statistics from Virginia Tech. He previously taught math and statistics for freshman and sophomore-level classes for seven years before entering his Ph.D. program.


School of Art and Design

Mr. Cory Gurley, Instructor of Graphic Design in the School of Art and Design

Mr. Cory Gurley teaches classes in graphic design and art fundamentals, including Fundamentals of Design, Digital Art and Design, and Graphic Design Studio. He specializes in graphic design, digital illustration and Adobe Creative software. Gurley has worked as a graphic designer for 10 years, including a position as an in-house designer for a large corporate law firm. He began teaching in Japan, where he worked for a year teaching English as a second language at a Japanese middle school. He holds an associate’s degree in graphic design, a bachelor’s in both English and international studies, and is currently working on his master’s in graphic design. Gurley grew up in Kernersville, North Carolina, and has lived in High Point the last 18 years.

I want to show students the vast range of possibilities open to designers,” says Gurley. “I want to help them see that design isn’t just about art and graphics – it’s about solving real-world problems in ways that grab attention and motivate people.”




Ms. Kathleen L. Robinson, Instructor of Art in the School of Art and Design

Ms. Kathleen L. Robinson teaches foundations in studio art courses, including Fundamentals of Design, Three-Dimensional Design and Drawing. She specializes in sculptural installation. Through that work, she searches to connect more deeply with her environment, sense of place and what it means to care for it. She constructs teetering, suspended structures that investigate the complex, sometimes invisible links between all things. Robinson taught at UNC Greensboro while working toward her master’s in fine arts, with a specialization in studio art. She served more than three years as an adjunct professor for a variety of art classes. Robinson is a native of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

“I aim to build a classroom environment where experimentation is paired with technical skill sets,” says Robinson. “This leads to relevant, exciting class-work the students can take ownership over, while developing the skills of critical inquiry and communication.  In my studio practice, I’m inspired by moments of odd ingenuity that happen when the typical solution breaks down. I reference ecosystems and the intimate relationships that form webs between the parts of a whole. Working this way leaves the pieces vulnerable to each other and external forces. If one part fails, so do many others.”



Wanek School of Natural Sciences

FacultyMs. Khalida Hendricks, Assistant Professor of Physics in the Wanek School of Natural Sciences

Ms. Khalida Hendricks teaches Modern Physics and General Physics II in the brand new Wanek School of Natural Sciences. She is an expert in theoretical particle physics, with a special interest in high energy collider physics, phenomenology, Higgs boson physics and Beyond Standard Model physics. She obtained a doctorate in theoretical particle physics from Ohio State University, in addition to a master’s in physics, bachelor’s degrees in applied mathematics and physics, and associate’s degrees in intelligence operations and modern standard Arabic. She is a Los Alamos, New Mexico, native and has lived in High Point since 2013. Hendricks is passionate about increasing diversity and inclusion in STEM.

“I hope to show the students how physics shows up in their daily lives and how they can harness physics concepts to analyze and solve problems,” says Hendricks. “Students become physics majors because they want to understand how the world works. Realizing that the deepest principles shaping our universe are completely counter to our everyday intuition tends to be very exciting and challenging.”

Apart from her experience in higher education, Hendricks previously served as a sergeant major in the United States Army Reserves and has a number of military certifications, including the Army Instructor Special Qualification Identifier, Military Freefall and Parachutist (“Airborne Wings”). She was a member of the U.S. Army Parachute Team and competed at the World Championships of Parachute Accuracy. Hendricks was also an Arabic linguist, with five deployments to Iraq, one to Kosovo, and tours in Germany and Korea. In her free time, she owns a pack of beagles that she trains to compete in various dog sports.


Congdon School of Health Sciences

FacultyMs. Kathleen Flach, Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies

Ms. Kathleen Flach teaches Pharmacology, Medical Ethics and Health Policy in the Congdon School of Health Sciences for students in the physician assistant studies program. She is an expert in medical education, and prior to High Point University, she was the founding academic director for the physician assistant program at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Flach has 13 years of clinical practice in the areas of family medicine, emergency medicine, internal medicine and psychiatry. 

“Pharmacology is a very dense subject and often a course students struggle in,” says Flach. “Because it is such an essential part of the practice of medicine, I plan to weave together the application of medication to disease states, with the understanding of the pharmacology of the drug.

Flach holds master’s degrees in health promotion and education, and physician assistant studies, in addition to bachelor’s degrees in English and physician assistant studies. She moved to the Triad from Tampa, Florida, where she has lived for the past 14 years. Before entering into the field of medicine, she worked in corporate America in training and development, organization development, and health promotion and wellness. In her free time, she enjoys being active and can often be found playing ultimate Frisbee, on a mountain bike trail or participating at Masters Swim Meets.


FacultyDr. Brett S. Pexa, Assistant Professor of Athletic Training

Mr. Brett S. Pexa teaches Foundations of Clinical Practice, Evidence Based Practice I and II, Optimizing Athletic Performance, and Upper Extremity Evaluation Techniques in the Congdon School of Health Sciences. He has conducted research in athlete health, wellness, and workload, aimed at identifying how sport participation influences an athlete’s physical health, mental wellness and on-field performance. He specializes in working with overhead athletes.

“I ask for two things from my students every semester – that they come with a great attitude and give their best effort,” says Pexa. “When students come with those two things, it makes for a much more enjoyable experience, while also putting them in the best position to be successful. I use didactic work, clinical education and research experiences to show students that these two attributes can have a positive impact throughout their education and career.”

While completing his master’s at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Pexa was a clinical athletic trainer for the UNC-Chapel Hill baseball and wresting teams. He then worked as a research assistant in the Neuromuscular Research Laboratory at UNC-Chapel Hill. In addition to his master’s, Pexa has a doctorate in human movement science from UNC-Chapel Hill, is a certified athletic trainer (ATC) and is licensed to practice in the state of North Carolina (LAT).

Pexa and his fiancé relocate to the Triad from Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


Fred Wilson School of Pharmacy

FacultyDr. Travis J. Carlson, Assistant Professor of Clinical Sciences

Dr. Travis J. Carlson teaches Pharmacotherapy II and an asthma certificate elective to second- and third-year pharmacy students in the Fred Wilson School of Pharmacy. These courses are designed to prepare students for their fourth-year clinical rotations by introducing pertinent clinical practice guidelines for each disease state and discussing challenging real-world cases amongst the class.

Carlson specializes in infectious diseases, specifically developing antimicrobial stewardship initiatives in novel settings to improve antimicrobial appropriateness in the community

“Infectious diseases are common in every heath care setting, but this broad topic is challenging for many health care professionals to master. Furthermore, inappropriate prescribing of antimicrobials can have adverse effects on the community, including antibiotic resistance, side effects and excess health care costs for our patients,” says Carlson. “I hope to relay the impact pharmacists can have on patient care decisions as a meaningful member of the health care team. Pharmacists who actively participate as antimicrobial stewards can help combat antibiotic resistance, decrease side effects from medications and minimize health care costs for our patients.”

Carlson graduated with his doctor of pharmacy from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and completed a post-graduate residency with Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Most recently, he completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship focused in infectious diseases at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in conjunction with the University of Houston College of Pharmacy in Houston, Texas.

Relocating from Houston, Texas, Carlson looks forward to exploring everything the Triad and North Carolina has to offer.



Dr. Robert A. Coover, Assistant Professor of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences

Dr. Robert Coover teaches medicinal chemistry curriculum, with some representation in cell biology in the Fred H. Wilson School of Pharmacy.

His research focuses on neurofibromatosis type 1, a common inherited disorder that predisposes patients (particularly pediatric patients) to tumors of the nerve as well as other significant clinical manifestations.

“I have an unrelenting passion for science as a tool and an experience,” says Coover. “I hope to transfer that thirst for comprehensive understanding to my students through engaging activities and well-thought-out lesson plans.

Prior to HPU, Coover completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. He has a bachelor’s in chemistry from UNC Greensboro and a doctorate in medicinal chemistry from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Coover relocated from Cincinnati, Ohio.


FacultyDr. Cale D. Fahrenholtz, Assistant Professor of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences

Dr. Cale Fahrenholtz is the course coordinator for Introduction to Pharmacology for first year pharmacy students. He will also host specialty lectures in various other courses.

In addition to teaching, he is setting up an oncology research lab, which focuses on defining new treatments for drug-resistant and difficult-to-treat cancers using clinically-relevant genetic markers.

His expertise lies in the development of new treatments for cancers, and his research program seeks to understand the genetic and molecular mechanisms that drive both difficult-to-treat and treatment refractory cancers. He is developing chemotherapy-resistant cell model systems to design and test new treatment modalities using combinations of nanomaterials and small molecule inhibitors.

“I hope to instill a sense of curiosity in my students,” says Fahrenholtz. “The world of pharmacy and research changes on an almost daily basis, and you have to work hard to keep up. I plan on using as many real-world challenges and examples to get students excited about their future careers, as well as the current research being performed to develop new therapies.”

Fahrenholtz received a bachelor’s in pharmacology and toxicology from the University of Wisconsin’s School of Pharmacy and then served as a research technician in a neuroscience academic research lab developing methods to treat dysmyelinating diseases (e.g. MS, Krabbe’s disease) using stem-cell transplantation. After his tenure at the University of Wisconsin, he earned a doctorate in molecular and cellular pharmacology, where he studied new antibody-based treatment regimens for prostate cancer therapy in conjunction with Amgen, Inc. Then Fahrenholtz was awarded the Transition to Independence Postdoctoral Fellowship at Wake Forest University’s School of Medicine, within the department of cancer biology. His research projects focused on using nanomaterials for both the treatment and diagnostic imaging of cancers.


FacultyDr. Sangmin Lee, Assistant Professor of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences

Dr. Sangmin Lee teaches third-year pharmacy students Integrated Pharmaceutical Sciences and serve as a committee member for the admissions committee of the School of Pharmacy. His research focus is on molecular mechanisms of how drugs interact with their receptors, with a specific focus on G protein-coupled receptors at cell surface.

“I look forward to teaching pharmacists of tomorrow,” says Lee. “Using visual aid and engaging platforms like Poll Everywhere will enhance the learning experience and allow me to collect instant feedback from students during the lecture.”

Lee has a doctorate in pharmacology at Pennsylvania State University’s College of Medicine and conducted his postdoctoral training at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in X-ray crystallography.




FacultyDr. Jwala Renukuntla, Assistant Professor of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences

Dr. Jwala Renukuntla teaches Pharmaceutics, Dosage Forms, Novel Drug Delivery Systems, Non-Sterile Compounding, Sterile Compounding and USP Chapter 795, 797 and 800 Compliance in the Fred Wilson School of Pharmacy. Her expertise lies in the development of novel nanotechnology-based drug delivery systems to treat ocular and skin infections. She develops nanoparticles, micelles and liposomal drug delivery systems to improve the solubility and permeability of low soluble and permeable drugs to treat various ailments.

“Exposing students to nanotechnology may spark interest in further research,” says Renukuntla. “Through research, students get hands-on experience in making drug delivery systems to treat several disease ailments, and they get the opportunity to present their work at national and international meetings.”

Renukuntla graduated in 2011 with a doctorate in pharmacy from the University of Missouri in Kansas City. She then joined South College School of Pharmacy, in Knoxville, Tennessee, as an assistant professor, where she developed and delivered a non-sterile and sterile compounding course in an accelerated three-year doctoral program until 2016.

During her term at South College, she was heavily involved in the ACPE accreditation process and lead a team of students to the National Compounding Competition. Renukuntla secured extramural funding from the international academy of compounding pharmacists (IACP). Later she moved to the University of Texas at El Paso’s School of Pharmacy, where she taught Physical Pharmacy, Non Sterile Compounding and Dosage Forms courses. She was heavily involved in the development of pharmaceutical sciences curriculum and involved in the accreditation process. Renukuntla also secured extramural funding from pharmaceutical companies for developing nanotechnology-based drug delivery systems.


Earl N. Phillips School of Business

FacultyMs. Bridget F. Holcombe, Assistant Professor of the Practice of Career and Business Communications

Ms. Bridget Holcombe, a long-time resident of the Piedmont Triad area, serves as an assistant professor and teaches a variety of business administration courses. These include a business career exploration course required for first semester sophomore business majors, an intensive job search skills class for juniors and seniors, and a foundational business communications and professional development course. Her area of expertise is college student career development and education. Holcombe emphasizes strong verbal and written communication skills as essentials in this process, including instilling grammatical skills and etiquette in writing, and bringing her knowledge of interview preparation to the classroom.

Holcombe received her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Wake Forest University and her Master of Science in college counseling and student development in higher education from UNC Greensboro. She is also a National Certified Counselor, Certified Gallup Strengths Coach and a Certified Myers-Briggs Practitioner. Holcombe was employed for six years at HPU, including four as the former director of the Office of Career and Professional Development and two years as an adjunct professor. For the past two years, she worked as a career coach and career course instructor at the Wake Forest University School of Business. Further prior experience includes her work as a private professional career coach and workshop presenter. She also has business experience in sales.

“The world of work is changing rapidly, and my goal is to arm HPU business students with the tools they need to find meaningful careers,” says Holcombe. “In my career courses, student learn how to express their career interests and unique value propositions to networking contacts and prospective employers. I emphasize ‘personal best’ and improvement at all times, empowering students to build their confidence and striving to provide a safe environment for constructive feedback and growth.”


Nido R. Qubein School of Communication

FacultyDr. Arden Anderson, Assistant Professor of Sport Management

Dr. Arden Anderson is teaching courses in gender issues in sport and sport in society as well as leading the Women Leaders in Sport club, which is a resource designed to serve for all women in the sport management major and minor. Anderson earned her Ph.D. in sport management from Texas A&M University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Wofford College and a Master of Science in kinesiology with a certificate in sport management from East Carolina University. She has acquired practical experience through her positions as a college athlete, academic mentor and member of a Division I college women’s volleyball team. Additionally, she has worked as both a teaching assistant and instructor of record.

Anderson’s research line investigates how individuals function in the context of groups and how these interactions impact their overall experience and quality of life. Her current research interests include role identity, team cohesion and the impact of college sport on athlete well-being. She has collaborated with leading scholars and researchers from around the world in sport management and other disciplines, giving her the chance to partake in publications and articles in “Sport Management Review” and “European Sport Management Quarterly,” as well as deliver national and international presentations and receive over $11,000 in both internal and external grant funding.

“I want to build a relationship with each of my students so that they feel comfortable with me within the classroom environment,” says Anderson. “I try to radiate an attitude of accessible partnership, both in the classroom and beyond, so that each student believes that I am a valuable resource to utilize in regard to their academic and career difficulties and endeavors. It is also essential to my teaching philosophy to provide engaging lessons and hands-on projects so that students can apply their skills and implement what they have learned.”


Mrs. Jessica Wiitala, Assistant Professor of Event Management

Mrs. Jessica Wiitala teaches courses on event budget and finance, event marketing and sponsorship as well as meeting and convention planning. She also works as an advisor to students with a major in event management and is a part of the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication Committee for Community and Sophomore Experience. Wiitala received her Bachelor of Science in hospitality and event management with a minor in business law from Lasell College in Newton, Massachusetts. She earned her Master of Business Administration with a concentration in marketing from the Keller Graduate School of Management in Pomona, California, and is currently finalizing her dissertation to complete her Ph.D. in hospitality management with the University of Central Florida. Her academic experience includes working for three and a half years as an instructor at the University of Central Florida as well as receiving over a decade of industry experience spanning both hotel operations and event sales services.

Wiitala’s primary research interests include researching strategic crisis communications, media effects and the subsequent impact on tourism and tourist behaviors. Her previous research in such subjects has been presented at a wide spectrum of international conferences, where her work has been nominated for an award as well as published in a top-tier academic journal. She has co-authored an in-print textbook chapter about the link between tourism and infectious disease entitled, “How Complex Travel, Tourism and Transportation Networks Influence Infectious Disease Movement in a Borderless World.” Her most recent accomplishment includes joining the board as the vice president of event logistics in January 2020 for the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International chapter. Her intentions are to stay engaged and involved with industry associations and professional development outside of the classroom.

“Events management as a subject area has always been engaging and exciting,” says Wiitala. “I have found that my challenge as an instructor has been to expose students to the vast diversity of opportunities available to them with the knowledge they gain by having a degree in event management. I hope to impact students by exposing them to a number of sectors that fall under event management, including membership associations and certifications for professional development, as well as showing them possible job opportunities.”

Wiitala is excited to create engaging projects to encourage students to apply their in-class knowledge to simulate event processes through various activities. These include projects related to managing an event budget and identifying revenue and expenses for various types of events, creating an event marketing plan and research pertaining to the many processes of corporate event planning. As a member of Meeting Professionals International and Professional Convention Management Association, she hopes to include guests and content from the associations to enhance the class experience.


Webb School of Engineering

FacultyDr. Claire L. McCullough, Professor and Founding Chair of Electrical Computer Engineering

Dr. Claire McCullough teaches introductory courses in engineering design, as well as a course in computer-aided design. New courses are projected to be added in the spring. Her hope is to be heavily involved in the design of the curriculum and course structures, as well as the development of labs, facilities and accreditation of programs. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in engineering from Vanderbilt, she went on to receive her master’s degree in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, as well as her Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where she was the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in electrical engineering. McCullough is also a licensed professional engineer.

McCullough’s research interests include applications of pattern recognition, sensor data fusion, automatic target recognition, control using neural nets and fuzzy logic, engineering and computer ethics, under-representation in STEM fields and probabilistic risk assessments and reliability studies. Her previous work experience includes serving as a professor of computer and electrical engineering at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga for 20 years as well as previous experience at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and at the University of Alabama at Huntsville. She also acted as the department head in computer science and engineering for one academic semester. McCullough’s practical experience includes working as an electrical engineer for two years at the Tennessee Valley Authority and for seven years as a senior electronics engineer at the Advanced Technology Directorate of the Space and Missile Defense Command for the U.S. Army. She also has over 20 years’ experience working in accreditation for both electrical and computer engineering programs and has made accreditation visits across the globe.

“My goal is to make the new curriculum very dynamic and hands-on, beginning with a team design project the first semester of freshman year,” says McCullough. “Development of a first-class maker-space for student projects will, I believe, allow students to quickly see the excitement in engineering.”

FacultyDr. Jason Pittman, Associate Professor of Computer Science

Dr. Jason Pittman teaches an introductory course to computer programming as well as courses in discrete structures and networking/network programming. Pittman also serves HPU’s Information Technology Department, as well as the Survey Research Center advisory committees. He intends to put a large effort into growing the computer science department through introducing rigorous cybersecurity coursework and a new cyber lab space. Pittman holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature with a secondary in biology from Malone College. He received his Master of Science in network security and Doctor of Science in information assurance from Capitol College.

Pittman’s areas of expertise are cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. His research interests include secure containment of artificial general intelligence, artificial immune systems in computing and information privacy. He brings with him eight years of experience at other academic institutions as well as more than 15 years of industry experience. The majority of these years have been spent at tech focused startups as well as his own consulting firm, which he still manages, where he provides tailored integration and automation services. He is a recently published author of his book entitled, “Privacy Must End: Freeing Information for the Future of Mankind,” which explores a possible answer to the question of whether information privacy is good by drawing upon extensive expertise in technology, philosophy and information architecture. His interests include learning through the liberal arts as a foundation and exploring through conversation, as he invites his students to approach him with their ideas inside and outside of the classroom.

“In my estimation, students are universally interested in, and excited by, opportunity,” says Pittman. “Not only opportunity for well-paying work but also for opportunity to become something. I think the secret to impacting students positively is engaging them in a grand narrative, co-created and co-managed across the group. This narrative fundamentally is grounded in programming, discrete mathematics or network programming but becomes situated in how such technologies are instantiated in the world.”

FacultyDr. Lloyd Williams, Associate Professor of Computer Science

Dr. Lloyd Williams teaches classes in algorithms, web design and online technologies. He wishes to bring robotics to campus and create a computer science maker lab that will enable students and faculty to creatively use the latest technology to solve problems and take innovative ideas from concept to reality. Williams received his Bachelor of Science in philosophy from Vanderbilt University and his Ph.D. in computer science from North Carolina State University.

Williams interests and expertise includes robotics as well as unmanned aerial vehicles, virtual reality and the latest technologies and hardware being used to create “The Internet of Things.” He is also interested in outreach aimed and bringing new and diverse populations into STEM fields. William’s previous work experience includes eight years at Shaw University where he served as department chair of computer science, a researcher and the program director for science and technology innovation. He also worked the summer of 2017 as a Faculty in Residence at Google’s Mountain View Headquarters. His accomplishments include founding the NSF funded Innovation Lab for exploring robotics, drones, virtual reality and wireless sensor networks and being awarded the “2017 STEM Educator of the Year” by the Research Triangle Park Foundation’s STEM in the Park Initiative.

“I try to work as much as possible with the some of the latest and coolest new technologies on the planet,” says Williams. “I find this interest is often widely shared by students, and incorporating the latest tech into my teaching can make learning lots of fun.”

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