HIGH POINT, N.C., Sept. 22, 2021 – High Point University continues to grow each year in both the undergraduate and graduate programs. HPU welcomed 43 new faculty members this fall across the university’s 10 academic schools, with 23 of those positions being newly created.
Below are new faculty members who joined HPU’s 10 academic schools, which include: the School of Dental Medicine and Oral Health; Congdon School of Health Sciences; Fred Wilson School of Pharmacy; Webb School of Engineering; Wanek School of Natural Sciences; Nido R. Qubein School of Communication; David R. Hayworth School of Arts and Design; Earl N. Phillips School of Business and the School of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences.
Dr. Linda Sekhon, Founding Chair for the Department of Medical Sciences and Professor of Medical Sciences and Physician Assistant Studies
Dr. Linda Sekhon is the department chair for Medical Sciences. She guides several proposed programs in the school, including the Doctor of Medical Science (DMS) degree program, expected to start in the fall of 2022. This program is designed for practicing PAs who want to pursue a doctorate.
Dr. Sekhon returns to the HPU family after serving as the department chair and program director of the Doctor of Medical Science program at Butler University. She earned her master’s degree in Medical Sciences from Saint Francis University and doctoral degree in Health Sciences from Nova Southeastern University. She has published and presented several articles on clinical topics including rheumatology and PA education.
“The Doctor of Medical Science is a doctoral program of study for practicing PAs offering two areas of concentration in Health Professions Education and Health Professions Administration,” says Sekhon. “The MPAS is already a highly successful program at HPU. The DMS is a professional degree providing an avenue for PAs interested in expanding their understanding of medical knowledge and research while advancing their personal and professional leadership skills.”
Brett Gordon, Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies
Brett Gordon serves as an assistant professor of physician assistant studies, primarily helping plan curriculum, perform clinical simulations and advise students in their academic and post-academic lives. He also leads the surgery course as the director and helps with any other course-related work.
Gordon comes to HPU with expertise in the medical field, from holding medical licenses in Virginia and North Carolina to being a nationally registered paramedic. He received his Master of Science from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in physician assistant sciences and his Bachelor of Science from the University of Maryland in kinesiology.
“My hope is to teach each of my students what it means to be a physician assistant,” says Gordon. “I hope to be a role model and someone that can act as a resource for those trying to get to where I’ve been and beyond. I hope my impact is to have prepared HPU students to be the best practitioners out there.”
Emily Godfrey, Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies
Emily Godfrey helps prepare PAs for their clinical year in the program and teaches the Clinical Decision Making (CDM) courses that focus on experiential learning as an assistant professor of physician assistant studies. These courses combine the Socratic method with hands-on simulation experiences that encourage the students to collaborate and to strengthen not only the knowledge gained in other courses but also their critical thinking skills.
Godfrey earned her master’s degree in physician assistant studies and a bachelor’s degree in biology. She also holds an associate degree in radiation therapy technology. She worked at the Duke University Medical Center in the outpatient chemotherapy department and medical oncology.
“I am so excited about having the opportunity to constantly learn,” says Godfrey. “I love learning, and the idea of being around people who have a wealth of knowledge to share and students who are also so eager to learn is a great feeling. I also love that HPU is constantly striving to do more and to be more innovative.”
Shelby Kirkpatrick, Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies
The Congdon School of Health Sciences welcomes Shelby Kirkpatrick as assistant professor of physician assistant studies. Kirkpatrick teaches health care ethics, basic ultrasound techniques, basic imaging interpretation and how to make clinical decisions.
Kirkpatrick has spent most of her career as a practicing physician assistant working in rural medicine in a patient-centered medical home. She worked in Tennessee, Oregon and Minnesota. She graduated from Lincoln Memorial University-Debusk College of Osteopathic Medicine Physician Assistant program with a master’s degree in physician assistant studies.
“I am excited to be able to participate in educating new generations of caring and intelligent clinicians who will improve health care delivery and outcomes,” says Kirkpatrick.
Dr. Susan Lad, Assistant Professor of Exercise Science and Physical Therapy
Dr. Susan Lad joins HPU as an assistant professor of exercise science and physical therapy. She teaches anatomy to undergraduates. She is researching the ways the skeleton adapts throughout life to different activity patterns.
In her role, she guides students to develop an understanding of the human body, conducts research outside of the classroom with her students and helps provide the opportunity for students to co-author peer-reviewed papers. Lad comes to HPU with a Ph.D. and Master of Arts in biological anthropology.
“I am thrilled to be at High Point University,” says Lad. “I am most excited to interact with students via hands-on learning experiences in both the amazing anatomy facilities we have in Congdon and my research lab.”
Dr. Nathan Morelli, Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy
Dr. Nathan Morelli teaches neuroscience, neuropathology and human anatomy in the Congdon School of Health Sciences. He also conducts research with help from his students on how cognitive-motor systems are impacted by concussions and neurodegenerative disease.
Morelli earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Penn State University, his Doctor of Physical Therapy from Marshall University and his Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky. He previously worked as a clinical physical therapist.
“I will provide students in the physical therapy program with essential knowledge of the nervous system, how it influences patient presentations in the clinic and what they can do to address or examine it,” says Morelli.
Ashley Nursey, Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies
Ashley Nursey joins HPU’s Department of Physician Assistant Studies as an assistant professor. She focuses on the importance of behavioral health and instilling values-based empathy, compassion and respect.
Nursey has experience working in general surgery, urgent care and most recently behavioral health at Coastal Horizons. She earned her Bachelor of Science at North Carolina State University and her Master of Science at East Carolina University.
“I am excited to bring my passion for teaching and experience in behavioral health, specifically to create more compassionate PAs,” says Nursey.
Teresa Starke, Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies
Teresa Starke is the clinical coordinator for the Physician Assistant Studies Program. Her background includes experience in both dermatology and family practices.
Starke earned her certification with the NCCPA, a Master of Health Science from South College and a bachelor’s degree in neurochemistry from Concordia College.
“I am excited to be involved in the HPU campus culture and experience,” says Starke. “HPU has a lot to offer students, faculty and the community. I want to contribute to HPU’s esteemed faculty and provide amazing opportunities for the students and community. I also want to help HPU’s campus be a medical hub for pre-professionals.”
Dr. Melissa Burgemeister, Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy; Assistant Director of Clinical Education
Dr. Melissa Burgemeister comes to HPU with a clinical focus in outpatient orthopedics and sports medicine. She serves as an assistant professor and assistant director of clinical education for HPU’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in exercise and sports science at the University of Utah, her Master of Education in kinesiology at the University of Texas and her Doctor of Physical Therapy from Regis University.
“As part of the Clinical Education Team, I will help ensure all students in HPU’s physical therapy program fulfill their clinical requirements for graduation,” says Burgemeister. “This includes maintaining and establishing clinical partners, obtaining clinical placements for our students and guiding them through their clinical coursework.”
Dr. Shaun Lynch, Associate Professor of Medical Sciences and Director of Curriculum
Dr. Shaun Lynch joins HPU as the director of curriculum for the proposed online Doctor of Medical Science degree program, expected to begin in the fall of 2022. He teaches, develops scholarship and participates in service.
He has been a practicing PA for the last 10 years, specializing in occupational medicine, urgent care and emergency department settings. He has also worked at two different schools in their PA programs.
Lynch earned his Master of Medical Science degree from Emory University’s School of Medicine. He has a Master of Science degree in exercise science and a Bachelor of Science degree in exercise physiology. He also holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership, policy and human development with a concentration in adult and continuing professional education.
“Our department hopes to create a nationally prominent online doctoral program for PAs reflecting the quality of this institution and expanding the footprint of the university nationally,” says Lynch. “It is my belief that health profession education is moving towards an increase in online offerings, and I’m thrilled High Point University is looking to innovate and diversify desired degree options for working professionals.”
Alanna Brown, Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies
Alanna Brown, PA-C, comes to HPU in a new position as a clinical coordinator for the Department of Physician Assistant Studies. She teaches students primarily in their clinical year of study, as well as with local medical providers. She also conducts quality and safety evaluations at clinical sites, advises students and helps with hands-on learning in simulation labs.
Brown spent several years in the United States Air Force as a biomedical equipment technician before becoming a certified PA. After her honorable discharge, she went to school to earn her Bachelor of Science in biology, followed by a Master of Health Science in physician assistant studies at the University of South Alabama. She has been practicing as a PA across the country since graduating, focusing on urgent care, otolaryngology and sub-acute care.
“The most exciting part of my job as a faculty member in HPU’s Department of Physician Assistant Studies is knowing that each day I wake up, I get to go to a job that I love,” says Brown. “There are a few things in life that matter more to me than feeling that I make an impact within my community. Being an integral part of students’ medical training means that I am allowed to assist in putting forth extraordinary health care providers who will ultimately care for people in local communities throughout the nation.”
Dr. Kaela Hierholzer, Assistant Professor of Exercise Science
Dr. Kaela Hierholzer joins the Department of Exercise Science as an assistant professor. She hopes to impact her students by mentoring them through their career paths and sharing her personal experience in the field.
Before teaching at HPU, she was a sport scientist with the Air Force Research Lab within the Strong Lab at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. She earned her undergraduate degree in exercise science from Adrian College, her master’s degree in exercise physiology from Northern Illinois University and her Ph.D. in sport physiology and performance from East Tennessee University.
“I feel very welcome as a new member of the HPU community,” says Hierholzer. “I look forward to continuing the semester and helping students prepare for their future careers in the classroom.”
Dr. Varnell McDonald-Fletcher, Associate Professor of Physician Assistant Studies
Dr. Varnell McDonald-Fletcher serves as an assistant professor and clinical coordinator in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies. In this role, she is responsible for the instruction and administration of the clinical phase. Before joining the faculty at HPU, she worked clinically in surgery. McDonald-Fletcher has prior clinical experience in neurosurgery, orthopedics, neuro-oncology and general/colorectal surgery.
She completed her undergraduate education at North Carolina Central University; physician assistant training (PA) and Master of Health Sciences at Duke University’s Physician Assistant Program. She also has completed a PA surgical residency, a Doctor of Education and a PA Program Teaching Fellowship.
Currently, McDonald-Fletcher serves as a board member of the North Carolina Medical Board, Medical Education Committee of the North Carolina Medical Society, and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee of the North Carolina Academy of Physician Assistants.
“As a clinical coordinator, I hope to provide a positive educational opportunity for HPU PA students by obtaining clinical sites that will reinforce and enhance their didactic education,” says McDonald-Fletcher. “My goal is to impact their educational experience by sharing my medical knowledge, experience and leadership skills.”
Dr. Sarah Anderson, Assistant Professor of Clinical Sciences
Dr. Sarah Anderson comes to HPU as an assistant professor in clinical sciences and assistant director of clinical skills laboratory.
“I hope to optimize students’ learning through educational excellence by incorporating real-life scenarios and experience,” says Anderson. “I hope to give the same passion I received as a pharmacy student from my faculty to the students at HPU.”
She earned her Bachelor of Science in applied mathematics from the University of Akron and her Doctor of Pharmacy from Cedarville University. Upon completing her pharmacy degree, Anderson worked at two different pharmacy schools. She completed her residency at Duquesne University, then went on to a Fellowship at UNC Eshelman’s School of Pharmacy in curricular innovation. After completing her fellowship, she led the school as the director of education and learning innovations.
Dr. Megan Carr, Assistant Professor of Clinical Sciences
Dr. Megan Carr joins HPU as an assistant professor of clinical sciences. Her specialty is geriatrics, and she teaches geriatric pharmacotherapy in addition to conducting clinical practice and research. Carr helps students navigate medication management for older patients.
Carr previously worked as a geriatrics acute care clinical pharmacist specialist at Baystate Medical Center. She earned her Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy and completed her residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. She is board certified in pharmacotherapy and geriatric pharmacy.
“I am excited to meet and work with all of the students and staff at HPU, and I am excited to explore all of the potential interprofessional collaborations for geriatrics health care education,” says Carr.
Dr. Sister Michaela Serpa, Associate Professor of Clinical Sciences
Dr. Sister Michaela Serpa joins the HPU family in a new position as an associate professor of clinical sciences. She teaches lectures to students in the pharmacy doctoral program and works with students in real-world, hands-on learning experiences.
Sister Michaela comes to HPU after working in an academic medical center as a clinical pharmacist. She received her Doctor of Pharmacy from Idaho State University and has numerous medical certificates, including a certificate in bioethics.
“I have seen firsthand what tremendous challenges we face and the importance of multi-specialty teams in caring for each patient,” says Michaela. “I am excited to share my real-life experience to enhance classroom learning and expand the students’ understanding of the vital role of pharmacists on the multi-specialty team. Doctors and nurses rely on our expertise, and it is exciting to make such an impact in the care of patients.”
HPU’s School of Dental Medicine and Oral Health welcomes three new faculty. It will be the 10th academic school on HPU’s campus and the seventh established since Dr. Nido Qubein became HPU president. It is the only dental school located at a private university in the state. At full capacity, the highly competitive and prestigious program will bring 180 new students to campus for its first class in fall 2023.
Dr. Scott De Rossi, Founding Dean
Dr. De Rossi serves as the founding dean of the School of Dental Medicine and Oral Health. Before joining HPU, De Rossi served as a professor and dean at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Adams School of Dentistry.
Dr. Kevin Cain, Senior Associate Dean for Administration and Finance
Dr. Kevin Cain joins HPU as the senior associate dean for administration and finance and associate professor for the dental school. He will help develop non-clinical content for accreditation of the DMD and other dental programs, create and manage the school’s budget and oversee the development of the school’s practice network. Cain will also teach practice management courses.
“The School of Dental Medicine and Oral Health’s practices will provide the best experiential learning opportunities for our DMD students and residents and the best care for our patients,” says Cain. “HPU has thrived on innovation and paradigm-shifting models of higher education, and I am excited about how well my entrepreneurial predisposition aligns with its extraordinary culture.”
Prior to joining HPU, Cain was the chief operating officer, chief financial officer and vice dean for administration at the University of North Carolina Adams School of Dentistry. He was also on the faculty at Augusta University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Cain holds a Doctor of Philosophy in business administration with a strategic management concentration from the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business, a Master of Business Administration from Wake Forest University, and a Bachelor of Arts in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Dr. Jazmin Cromartie, Assistant Professor of General Dentistry
Dr. Jazmin Cromartie joins HPU as an inaugural faculty and assistant professor of general dentistry. She will assist in the development of clinical manuals, including those to be used in faculty calibration, competency assessment and accreditation. She will advise students in various specialties of dentistry and supervise the clinical sites. She will also advise pre-dental students and be a resource to students seeking to learn more about the dental profession.
Cromartie earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from High Point University in 2013. She holds a Master of Arts degree in intercultural services in health care from Wake Forest University. She earned both her Doctor of Dental Medicine and Advanced Education in General Dentistry Certificate with distinction from East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine.
“I am extremely excited to return to HPU and assist in building the foundation for the School of Dental Medicine and Oral Health,” says Cromartie. “High Point University is where my pursuit to become a dentist all began as an undergraduate student, so I am deeply honored to come aboard as inaugural faculty. I am excited to contribute my energy and passion for this profession and to extend my expertise to create an inspiring environment and extraordinary experience for each and every patient, student, resident and faculty member.”
Sean Johnson, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering
Sean Johnson comes to HPU teaching topics in electrical engineering, such as circuit theory, electronic devices and applications. He will also help the department gain ABET (the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) accreditation. He is excited to help students learn complicated concepts through hands-on learning both in and outside of the classroom.
Johnson earned his Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from North Carolina A&T State University. He currently serves as an executive pastor.
“Our program here at HPU is completely new, and that is exciting,” says Johnson. “It is like a blank canvas to a painter. I hope to be able to develop the foundation of this program in ways that exhibit the unique spirit and culture of HPU.”
Niloofar Ghorbani, Assistant Professor of Actuarial Sciences
Niloofar Ghorbani joins the Department of Mathematics as an assistant professor of actuarial sciences. She teaches courses in statistics, actuarial science and mathematics. She also guides students in conducting undergraduate research and helps students land internship opportunities.
Ghorbani holds her Ph.D. in mathematics with a research concentration in probability and statistics from the University of Texas at Arlington. She also holds a Master of Science in mathematics, a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and has experience as a data analyst.
“My main goal in teaching is to understand each student and what they need to progress,” says Ghorbani. “My teaching strategy is not just to help students acquire the necessary mathematical knowledge to succeed in that specific course, but also to encourage them to have their own perspective on mathematics.”
Dr. Yong Wei, Professor of Computer Science
Dr. Yong Wei joins HPU in a new position as a professor of computer science. He is teaching courses in computer science, data science and electrical engineering. He also conducts research in machine learning, computer vision and their applications. He hopes that hands-on learning will help his students grow and cultivate the next generation of scientists and engineers.
Wei previously worked for the University of North Georgia in the department of computer science and as an artificial intelligence engineer at SUN Microsystems in California. He has published more than 20 research papers in peer-reviewed journals and international conference proceedings.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in acoustics and a Master of Science in acoustics with a concentration on electrical engineering from Nanjing University in China. He also received his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Georgia.
“I look forward to working with colleagues in computer science, computer and electrical engineering and other STEM fields to develop new courses and programs for students, based on my interdisciplinary research and teaching experience in computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering and physics,” says Wei.
Dr. Sarmad Hindo, Instructor of Chemistry
Dr. Sarmad Hindo teaches general and organic chemistry courses in the Wanek School of Natural Sciences. His lectures have a discussion component where students will have an opportunity to present solutions to real-world problems which will help build confidence, develop oral communication skills and infuse interest toward learning the course material.
He has a wide background in teaching chemistry in higher education settings. Hindo earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry with an emphasis in biochemistry, a Master of Science and a Doctor of Philosophy in inorganic chemistry from Wayne State University. He completed two postdoctoral fellowships in teaching and research at the University of Michigan and Wake Forest University.
“I consider myself extremely enthusiastic about chemistry and hope to transmit that enthusiasm for the subject and for the exhilaration of learning to the student,” says Hindo. “I hope to have a positive impact on HPU students by serving as a role model and a mentor, and to facilitate each student to realize their potential.”
Dr. Dane Kuppinger, Instructor of Biology
Dr. Dane Kuppinger joins HPU as an instructor of biology. He teaches core required classes within the biology major, including principles of cell biology and environmental science in the fall. In the spring, he will teach sections on principles of ecology, evolution, biodiversity and environmental science. All of these classes have a lab component.
Kuppinger wants all students to understand the importance of science in their daily lives and how the sciences increase understanding of the world through the application of the scientific method.
Kuppinger previously taught at Salem College as an associate professor of biology and as the director of the environmental studies program. He holds a Master of Science in environmental education from Lesley College and a doctorate in ecology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“I love teaching and conducting research with undergraduates,” says Kuppinger. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to work with students in the classroom and lab as they learn and refine their laboratory techniques. I am excited about HPU’s focus on mentorship and its support for student research.”
Dr. Tim Koba, Assistant Professor of Sport Management
Dr. Tim Koba is an assistant professor of sport management. In his role, Koba teaches students within sport management, building community relationships and mentoring students to help prepare them for a successful life and career.
Prior to pursuing a doctoral degree, Koba worked in fitness, sport medicine clinics, high schools and colleges. He also developed athletic performance programs and owned a consulting business. Koba holds a bachelor’s degree in athletic training, a master’s degree in sport management and a Ph.D. in sport management.
“As an educator, I gauge success by how prepared students are for a career in their desired area,” says Koba. “To do this, it is important to get to know the students, their interests, passion areas and provide opportunities that allow them to visualize their futures.”
Dr. Alison Bender, Assistant Professor of Event Management
Dr. Alison Bender is an assistant professor of event management, teaching courses and developing curriculum in event management. She brings a wealth of knowledge and skills to this role. She has experience with community-based events as well as youth and collegiate sporting events. She has worked on sporting, campus, fundraising and tourism events.
Bender received her Bachelor of Science in parks, recreation and tourism management from North Carolina State University, a Master of Science in sustainable tourism from East Carolina University and a doctorate in recreation, parks and tourism management from Penn State University.
Before joining HPU, she was an assistant professor of recreation and tourism management at Eastern Washington University.
“My higher education training was and is focused on engaged learning experiences,” says Bender. “The event management program is continually growing at HPU, which means I get to be a part of that growth and development. It is very exciting to be able to help build a program at a growing university.”
Nicholas Blair, Instructor of Communication
Nicholas Blair joins HPU as an instructor of communication. In this role, he teaches sections of introductory media production, which covers a variety of still image, audio and video editing software. Outside of the classroom, he runs a boot camp session for upperclassmen to review production tools that they will use in their courses.
Blair spent the last year working at HPU as an adjunct professor before coming on full-time this fall. He has worked as both a freelance and video producer/editor in the last seven years. His focuses were on a variety of documentaries, commercial productions and some political campaigns.
He received his Bachelor of Arts in communication in 2018 and his Master of Arts in strategic communication in 2019 from HPU.
“I am most excited about being able to be here on campus educating and working with our students,” says Blair. “We have dedicated students who want to grow their production skills and get as much experience as they can before they graduate. I can’t wait to help them be prepared to walk across that stage right onto a set and be a meaningful contributing member of the crew.”
Kennedy Currie, Instructor of Strategic Communication
As an instructor of strategic communication, Kennedy Currie is responsible for shining a light on her students’ gifts and greatness. She helps students understand how to leverage communication skills as assets to navigate various opportunities and obstacles that come up every day.
Currie earned a Bachelor of Arts in sport communication and a Master of Arts in strategic communication with a public relations and health communication concentration from High Point University. She has worked in a variety of communication roles throughout her career. She has managed social media and membership retention, along with regular administrative duties for an entrepreneurial support organization. She is a certified life design strategist and coach.
“I hope to expose students to both communication and life skills during my time at HPU,” says Currie. “Skills, titles and course credits are only as powerful as their application in real-life situations. I want every student to walk away with a renewed mindset about how the art of communication can be used to serve themselves and others every day.”
Marisa Ritter, Assistant Professor of Event Management
As an assistant professor of event management, Marissa Ritter teaches in the hospitality program, a part of the sport, event and hospitality management. She is also developing and growing the hospitality program.
Rittter has more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry working for hotels, event venues, caterers and event producers. Weddings are her expertise, having planned more than 500 weddings from small intimate gatherings of five to over 725 guests.
She received a Bachelor of Science in biology from Washington and Lee University and has a Master of Science in hospitality management and a doctorate in hospitality administration from the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston.
“I love to mentor students and help them find the part of the hospitality industry about which they are most excited,” says Ritter. “I look forward to working with students one-on-one to find their fit, as well as internships and develop career paths. I love the hospitality industry and am excited to be able to help teach the hospitality leaders of tomorrow and set them up for future success.”
Robert Stec, Associate Professor of the Practice of Communication
Robert Stec is a part of the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication as an associate professor of the practice of communication. He teaches leadership, change management and negotiation, as well as assisting in crafting and directing the overall program towards its vision of preparing students for the leadership and communication challenges ahead.
Stec has more than 40 years of experience across multiple consumer products and industries such as Levi, Wrangler, Tommy Bahama and Lexington. He served as the director of experiential learning at Appalachian State University and serves as chairman of the White Oak Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit foundation in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Stec earned his Bachelor of Science in business administration and a Master of Business Administration from Appalachian State University.
“My classes provide creative ‘learn by doing’ activities within each course that pushes students to apply learning rather than simply regurgitate facts,” says Stec. “I’m excited to have this opportunity to engage students in learning and applying skills to concepts that will empower them to create value for others and improve the world in which they live.”
Caitlyn Baldwin, Visiting Assistant Professor of Scenic Lighting and Design
Caitlyn Baldwin comes to HPU with a repertoire of theater productions under her belt. In addition to serving as visiting assistant professor of scenic lighting design, she is the scenic and lighting designer for the theater and dance department, and assists with performances throughout the 2021-2022 school year.
She received her bachelor’s degree in theater from Winthrop University and her Master of Fine Arts in design with a focus in scenic design from UNC-Greensboro. She most recently spent her summer working as a scenic designer for the StageDoor Manor Performing Arts Camp in New York designing for “Legally Blonde,” “The Drowsy Chaperone” and “Sweet Charity.”
“I can’t wait to share with students my experience in theater,” says Baldwin. “I’m most excited to get to learn alongside students as we create together. I am looking forward to collaborating with faculty and students in bringing stories to life on stage. I’m excited to get to experience performance in new ways and to be part of the HPU family.”
Gary Inman, Assistant Professor of the Practice of Interior Design and Designer in Residence
Gary Inman comes to HPU as the Designer in Residence as part of the university’s Access to Innovators program. He is teaching a full course load in the practice of interior design while working with select clients. He says research is an important part of his role as he is working on an exhibit that will debut at the Bienenstock Furniture Library in October.
Inman has 27 years of experience in the practice of interior design. He taught in the art history and interior design departments at the Virginia Commonwealth University during his doctoral studies at the University of Virginia. He has also published several writings in the U.S. and U.K. He earned his bachelor’s degree in fashion and textiles at UNC-Greensboro and a Master of Art in art history at Virginia Commonwealth University.
“I’m excited to share my vast industry experience with the students and help them navigate the early years of their career,” says Inman. “As the newly appointed Designer in Residence and assistant professor of interior design, I will bring real-world projects into the classroom to assure that our graduates are prepared to compete in a highly demanding profession.”
Bailey Powell, Visiting Assistant Professor of Costume Design
Bailey Powell brings her passion for costume design to Hayworth School of Arts and Design. She is responsible for the costume design for many of the performances, instructing several costume and theater-based classes, and assisting with costume construction.
She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the UNCSA School of Design and Production in fine arts and costume design. She also has a resume from Nickelodeon, Norwegian Cruise Lines and Spoleto Festival.
“I am so excited to create beautiful performances with passionate students,” says Powell. “There is nothing more inspiring than sharing a passion and helping further future careers in such an amazing field.”
Alyssa Haynes, Assistant Professor of Marketing
Alyssa Haynes, assistant professor of marketing, joins the Phillips School of Business. At HPU, Haynes teaches undergraduate classes in “Principles of Marketing and Sales in a Dynamic Environment.” She believes in supporting her students and her peers to attain the best education to change lives, foster new leaders and leave a positive impression.
Haynes has been part of the leadership team as the director of business development for a behavioral health hospital in Winston-Salem. In this role, she has created and executed marketing plans, managed the website and social media, and led the referral marketing team to achieve objectives.
A native of North Carolina, she earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration with a marketing concentration from UNC-Chapel Hill, and her MBA from UNC-Greensboro. She also holds a certification with the American Council of Exercise and has taught fitness classes for more than 20 years.
Haynes is also an HPU mom as her son is a student majoring in computer engineering. She is excited to join a part of her legacy since HPU is where her parents met.
Nasir Assar, MBA Program Director and Associate Professor of Economics
Nasir Assar joins the Phillips School of Business as the director for the MBA program and as an associate professor of economics. He helps develop curriculum, review applications and make program decisions for the MBA program. He works with graduate students through advising, registration, recruiting and teaching classes in the program. The undergraduate students can utilize his industry experience to receive career advice in entrepreneurship, sales, marketing, recruiting and financial planning.
Assar is an alumnus of Marshall University (1980) and West Virginia University (1985). Immediately after receiving his doctorate from West Virginia University, he started teaching at Glenville State College. He has been a faculty member at Greensboro College, North Carolina A&T State University and South University. His areas of concentration are economics, finance, quantitative analysis and business analytics.
“I am excited to join a team of prestigious faculty and to bring my 30 years of business experience to our students who are eager to learn and become the leaders of tomorrow,” says Assar.
James Fakunle, Assistant Professor of the Practice of Entrepreneurship
James Fakunle joins HPU as assistant professor of the practice of entrepreneurship. His responsibilities include teaching courses in entrepreneurship, as well as mentoring and advising students.
Fakunle holds a Bachelor of Arts in business with a marketing concentration and a Master of Science with a concentration in entrepreneurship in applied technologies. He has previously worked in higher education.
“I am excited to work with everyone in the Earl N. Phillips School of Business as we educate our students to become tomorrow’s business professionals,” says Fakunle. “I aim to spread the enthusiasm of empowerment that entrepreneurship brings to our students through the classroom and HPU’s Belk Entrepreneurship Center.”
Caroline Mobley, Instructor of Philosophy
Caroline Mobley joins HPU as an instructor of philosophy. Mobely teaches business ethics and theories of comedy. She is excited to lead engaging courses while also serving as a resource to her students through mentorship.
Mobley graduated from Pepperdine University with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Tennessee. During her time as a graduate student, she worked as an instructor teaching ethics and introductory courses in philosophy.
“I am excited to join the High Point University family,” says Mobley. “I am excited to engage further with the many wonderful people in the Department of Religion and Philosophy. Most of all, I am excited to get to know my students and learn together with them. My goal is to provide the highest quality education available, and I look forward to doing so.”
Dr. Jessica Swanson, Instructor of Criminal Justice
Dr. Jessica Swanson returns to HPU teaching courses in criminal justice after having previously taught in the same department. In addition to teaching, Swanson oversees Alpha Phi Sigma, the criminal justice honor society and continues her research on human trafficking.
Prior to HPU, Swanson worked as an instructor at Winston-Salem State University and as an instructor and academic advisor at Indiana University.
Swanson holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, music and criminal justice from the University of Wyoming, a master’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Cincinnati and a doctorate in criminal justice with a minor in global studies from Indiana University at Bloomington.
“The classroom is a safe space to exchange knowledge and discuss issues of justice,” says Swanson. “Seeing the excitement on students’ faces when they understand a concept is rewarding and I look forward to learning from them as well. Understanding their worldview informs my own research and personal life.”
Dr. Carl Helsing, Instructor of Religion
Dr. Carl Helsing teaches courses related to global religious traditions. According to Helsing, these courses analyze primary sources of the world’s religious and philosophical traditions, and also consider historic developments, contemporary issues and artistic expressions of devotion and faith.
Helsing has taught a variety of philosophy and religion courses, including business and social ethics, Asian studies, East Asian religions, South Asian religions and Chinese philosophy. He received a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and a Ph.D. in philosophy.
“In my teaching, I hope to encourage intellectual curiosity, while also demonstrating the importance of critical thinking, creativity and compassion,” says Helsing. “By exploring global cultural traditions, we not only gain a better understanding of ourselves as human beings, but we develop the ability to see the complexities of life. I hope to show how examining the insights of global religious and philosophical traditions helps us learn how to better live in a multifaceted, constantly changing, interdependent world.”
Anna Love, Assistant Professor of Italian
Anna Love teaches beginner through intermediate Italian within the Italian Studies program at HPU. She also helps coordinate extracurricular activities and advises minor-seeking students of Italian Studies.
Love, who has previously taught Italian studies in higher education, received a Bachelor of Arts in art history from Wake Forest University and a Master of Arts in Italian studies from Middlebury College. She received her Ph.D. in Italian studies from Indiana University.
“I am looking forward to acting as a model and a mentor for our burgeoning global citizens here at HPU,” says Love. “I’m looking forward to working with our Office of Global Education and adding programming to our well-established program abroad in Sicily.”
Andrew Tzavaras, Instructor of History
Andrew Tzavaras teaches courses in history from ancient Greece to the Middle East. His research centers on three continents, Europe, Africa and Asia, and various cultures. His previous research focuses on the building, deployment and technology of Italian warships within the context of economics, diplomacy and cross-cultural and religious conflict that characterizes pre-modern Mediterranean warfare.
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 earned his Ph.D. at New College, University of Oxford.
“I’m excited that I have the opportunity and responsibility to serve as a mentor for HPU students,” says Tzavaras. “My research and professional achievements come second to the opportunity to enrich students’ lives. I’m hoping that through class discussion, activities and multimedia 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.”
Dr. James Cotton, Director of Fellowships and Awards; Assistant Professor of English
As the director of national fellowships and awards, Dr. James Cotton advises student fellowship applicants, acts as the campus liaison for private foundations and publicly funded agencies, establishes campus procedures for the administration of awards, organizes campus review committees and develops fellowship programming and resources for student use.
As an assistant professor of English, Cotton strives to instill in students a love of Renaissance literature through the exploration of what it means to be human and developing close reading, writing and communication skills.
Cotton received a Bachelor of Arts in English and Italian from the University of Texas at Austin. He earned his Master of Arts in Italian and doctorate in literature with a concentration in English literature at the University of Notre Dame.
“With my service-oriented teaching and advising philosophy, I’m thrilled at the prospect of collaborating with HPU’s dedicated faculty and staff to help our bright, talented students reach their academic and professional goals through fellowships,” says Cotton. “As a literary scholar who’s passionate about literature, I’m looking forward to engaging my students with the great works of the Renaissance and Reformation.”
Dr. Justin Cook, Assistant Professor of English and Director of the HPU Writing Center
Dr. Justin Cook joins the School of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences as an assistant professor of English and the director of the HPU Writing Center. He teaches a variety of English courses including classes in the public and professional writing program and first-year writing program.
Cook holds a doctorate in rhetoric program from Texas Woman’s University. He earned his Master of Arts and Bachelor of Arts in English from Arkansas State University. He has published and presented papers on themed pedagogy, feminist composition, writing program administration and rhetorical agency.
“Writing and communication skills are consistently the number one skill requested by employers,” says Cook. “I try to help students cultivate the ability to critically evaluate their communication needs and practices with an eye towards ethical civic engagement in the world around them. Writing is at the heart of nearly every profession and degree, so building those skills is incredibly important. I hope to drive home that point by creating a space where students can learn, grow and play with their writing on the journey to becoming masterful communicators in their future careers.”