University of Southern Indiana

Liberal Arts Achievements

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Fall 2022


At its Fall Meeting for employees the University of Southern Indiana recognized the following Liberal Arts faculty members as award recipients:

Dr. Melissa Stacer, Professor of Criminal Justice Studies and Director of the Master of Arts in Criminal Justice Program, was named the 2022 USI Distinguished Professor. Stacer joined the USI faculty in 2010 as an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Studies. During her time at USI, she has published a wide array of research and mentored countless students in their varied research endeavors. Stacer is recognized for her collaborative approach to research and teaching and is committed to mentoring and advising students throughout their academic journeys.

Dr. Leigh Anne Howard, Professor of Communication Studies and Chair of the Communication and Media Department, and Dr. Stephanie Young, Associate Professor of Communication Studies, were awarded 2022 H. Lee Cooper Core Curriculum Teaching Awards. Howard’s dedication to service-learning and community-based pedagogy have earned her several additional honors, including the Sisco Award for Teaching from Southern States Communication Association (SSCA) in 2014 and the Southern Scholar in Performance Studies Award from SSCA in 2020. Young, who serves as the Director of the Basic Course (CMST 101) and the College Achievement Program (CAP), as well as the Faculty Liaison for CMST 101, was also the recipient of the USI Foundation Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2015 and the College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Teaching Award in 2019. 

 Dr. Jessica Rick, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, was awarded the 2022 USI Foundation Outstanding Teaching Award by New Faculty. Rick joined USI in 2017 and is being recognized for her excellence and creativity in teaching in combination with her extensive work in curriculum development. She is known for her ability to engage students, incorporating innovative strategies in her courses and applying fresh approaches to her pedagogy. 

Spring/Summer 2022

The Florida Historical Quarterly Summer Issue Cover "Indigenous Florida"

Dr. Kristalyn Shefveland won the Arthur W. Thompson Award from the Florida Historical Society (FHS) for her contributions to the special issue of the Florida Historical Quarterly (FHQ) journal titled, “Indigenous Florida.”

Named in honor of the late Arthur W. Thompson, longtime University of Florida history professor and former editor of the Florida Historical Quarterly, this award recognizes the most outstanding article appearing in FHQ during the preceding publication year. Dr. Shefveland won for her contribution, "Remembering an Indigenous South: Regional Identity, Vero Beach, and Settler Tourism"

Dr. Melissa Stacer’s research, “Student perceptions of corrections: The influence of media and correctional facility tours,” has recently been accepted for publication by the Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Dr. Stacer is a Professor of Criminal Justice Studies and the Director of the Criminal Justice Graduate Program. Her current study, forthcoming publication, culminates the research of her previous studies examining the impact of jail and prison tours on undergraduate students.

Dr. Stacer’s research began in 2013, with data collection from 2013-2015, and has resulted in 4 journal articles and 8 presentations. Two USI students, Ryan Eagleson and Lydia Moll, worked alongside Dr. Stacer on this research and were co-authors on all the articles and presentations. Dr. Monica Solinas-Saunders of IU-Northwest was also a co-author on all four articles. Dr. Stacer’s previously published research articles are titled “Exploring the utility of correctional facility tours in undergraduate criminal justice education” (2017, Journal of Criminal Justice Education), “New opportunities or closing doors? How correctional facility tours impact students’ thoughts about careers” (2019, Journal of Criminal Justice Education), and “The impact of correctional facility tours on student perceptions and realizations of the correctional environment: A research note” (2020, Journal of Criminal Justice Education).

Dr. Gregory Blair, Assistant Professor of Art and Design, wrote an essay, “Palimpsests of Identities: Material Voices at the InLiquid Gallery,” for the Material Voices Exhibition at the InLiquid Gallery in Philadelphia, PA, available from October 27 to December 4, 2021. Dr. Blair also presented his paper “Using the Body in Contemporary Art Practices” on the Embodiment and the Politics of Intervention panel at the Midwest Art History Society Annual Conference in Houston TX on March 10-11, 2022.

Click here to read Dr. Blair’s essay “Palimpsests of Identities: Material Voices at the InLiquid Gallery.”

Dr. Taylor Petty, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, presented at the American Psychology-Law Society conference in Denver, CO on March 17, 2022. Dr. Petty presented “The Impact of Emotion Regulation in Child Sex Trafficking Cases.”

Dr. Caroline Jalain, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, participated in a roundtable called “The Future of Veterans’ Courts in the U.S.” at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences Conference on March 16, 2022. Dr. Jalain’s central area of study is Veteran Treatment Courts. Recently, Dr. Jalain and Dr. Melissa Stacer, Professor of Criminal Justice Studies and Director of the Criminal Justice Graduate Program, have started a new project that will evaluate how Veteran Treatment Courts have responded and adapted to COVID-19.

Dr. Kathy Elpers, Professor of Social Work, has been nominated by Dr. Elissa Mitchell, Associate Professor of Social Work and Director of Center for Social Justice Education, for the Celebration of Leadership (COL) award, presented by Leadership Everyone at the 27th Annual Celebration of Leadership Event. Leadership Everyone is a non-profit organization committed to engaging, inspiring, and honoring diverse servant leaders to transform the community through vision, collaboration, volunteerism, engagement, and generosity. Dr. Elpers is being recognized for her 30 plus years as an educator, during which she has guided and mentored countless students.

Click here to see Dr. Elpers nomination. 
Click here to learn more about Leadership Everyone.

Meredith Hagerty, a double major in Communication Studies and Public Relations & Advertising, was recently awarded the Lois & Betsy Hamburg Scholarship for $5,000 from the Vanderburgh Community Foundation to further her studies here at USI.

In March 2022, the ETS Major Field Test assessed USI Sociology seniors on their student learning in sociology. This standardized test ranked USI sociology seniors collectively at the top 22% of all test takers who tested in the United States between 2012-2021. One USI sociology student even scored in the top 1% of the nation. 

Bonnie Rinks, Director of Field Education in Social Work, Summer Wilderman, Clinical Assistant Professor of Social Work, and John Paulson, Associate Professor of Social Work, coauthored the article “Responding to Behavioral Concerns in Field: A Team Approach” and have been published in The Field Editor, an online journal produced by the Simmons School of Social Work.

Read the article here.

Dr. Kristin LaFollette, Assistant Professor of English, was recently asked to serve on the Board of Advisors at The Blood Project (TBP) by the Executive Director, a physician and professor at Harvard Medical School. TBP is a platform which educates on the vital role of blood in health and disease, by building bridges between the humanities, science, and patient care. Additionally, Dr. LaFollette was asked to contribute creative work to the humanities section of TBP’s website and, in February 2022, they published seven of her original poems (collectively called “Intern Year”) about medicine and embodied experience.

To learn more about The Blood Project, click here.

To view Dr. LaFollette’s collection of poems on the website, click here.

Dr. Oana Popescu Sandu, Associate Professor of English and Chair of the English Department, and colleagues represented the University of Southern Indiana English Department by presenting—both in person and virtually—at the Modern Language Association (MLA) Convention in Washington DC, the largest convention in the field of English, on January 6-9, 2022.

Dr. Oana Popescu Sandu presented “More Languages, Fewer Borders: Translingual Poetry against Methodological Nationalism.” Dr. Susana Hoeness-Krupsaw, Associate Professor of English, presented “The Power of Visual Language in Duffy and Jennings’s Adaptations of Octavia Butler’s Kindred and Parable of the Sower” and “This above All, to Refuse to Be a Victim.” Dr. Laura Soderberg, Assistant Professor of English, presented “Remaking Archives of Childhood: Surveillance, Documentation, and Memory in Native Children’s Literature.” Dr. Amy Montz, Associate Professor of English, participated as a panelist in the session: “Translating Worlds: Gendered Code- and Role-Switching during COVID.”

Click here to learn more about the MLA.

Dr. Amy Montz

Dr. Amy L. Montz, Associate Professor of English in 18th and 19th Century British Literature, recently was featured in an interview along with Dana E. Lawrence, titled "The Complications of Adaptation." The interview was published December 31, 2021 in the "Study and Scrutiny: Research on Young Adult Literature," a peer-reviewed journal that focuses on the scholarship of young adult literature.

Conducted by Terri Suico, an associate professor of education at Saint Mary's College, the interview discusses adaptation of young adult literature and research that Montz and Lawrence have done on the subject.

The College of Liberal Arts hosted their annual Spring Meeting in January 2022, continuing our tradition of presenting awards of recognition to faculty and staff who have gone above and beyond in their service to the College.

We are proud to announce the following:

  • Dr. Urska Dobersek, Assistant Professor of Psychology, received the Outstanding Research and Creativity Award
  • Dr. Cacee Hoyer, Assistant Professor of History, received the Outstanding Teaching Award
  • Dr. Wesley Durham, Associate Professor of Communication Studies, received the Outstanding Service to the College of Liberal Arts Award
  • Dr. Susannah Hoeness-Krupsaw Associate Professor of English, received the Distinguished Faculty Award




Jenn Horn, Instructor in English, delivered her commencement speech to the 2021 College of Nursing and Health Professions graduates and 2021 Pott College of Science, Engineering and Education graduates. See the video here. Skip ahead to see Mrs. Horn at 45:35.


Dr. Silvia Rode delivered her commencement speech to the 2021 Romain College of Business graduates and 2021 Liberal Arts graduates. in the third of four graduation ceremonies for fall 2021. See the video here. Skip ahead to see Dr. Rhode at 48:50.

Fall 2021

Home and Away Book CoverHome and Away: Lived Experience in Performative Narratives, edited by Dr. Leigh Anne Howard, was published by Routledge. By combining aesthetic expression and inquiry with critical reflection, the contributors in this volume use a variety of narrative strategies—autoethnography, mystoriography, creative cartography, the lyric essay, fictocriticism, collage, the screenplay, and poetics—to position place as the starting point for the aesthetic impulse. The anthology showcases the power and potential of performative writing to illustrate the ways we interact with and in place; provides examples of the ways one can express lived experience; and demonstrates the ways discourses overlap while extending our understanding of identity and place, whether one is home or away. Although the chapters are fixed by their literary form in this volume, many of chapters are best realized in a performance or shared publicly via an oral tradition.

Dr. Denise Lynn, Professor of History, Director of Gender Studies and Director of the Africana Studies Program, recently had her piece "When it comes to activism, law enforcement has always had a double standard" published in The Washington Post. Lynn's piece was included in the "Made By History" section, a section dedicated to offering historians the opportunity to provide "historical analyses to situate the events making headlines in their larger historical context."

Dr. Stephanie Young, Associate Professor of Communication Studies, received the Undergraduate Mentor Award from the Kentucky Communication Association. This award is given for outstanding support of undergraduate scholarship and participation. It recognizes the important role faculty members play in supporting undergraduates’ academic, personal and professional growth through meaningful interactions related to academic advising, research and creative endeavors. Nominees will have a consistent record of successful outcomes with students such as advising student groups; coordinating presentations at professional conferences; including students in publications; and guidance for academic progress and admission to graduate/professional school, etc. Faculty members will also exemplify a high level of integrity and maintain active and continued mentorship as students move through their academic and professional careers.

Dr. Erin Gilles

Dr. Erin E. Gilles, Assistant Professor of Advertising & Public Relations, received the Harlan Hamm Award for Service to the Organization from the Kentucky Communication Association. Named for Harlan Hamm of Morehead State University, this award is given to a member with sustained service to KCA above and beyond what was expected of her or him.

University of Southern Indiana Distinguished Professor Award  

Dr. Silvia Rode

Dr. Silvia Rode, Professor of German and Assistant Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, was named the 2020 USI Distinguished Professor. Rode joined the USI faculty in 2007 as an Associate Professor of German and Chair of Modern and Classical Languages. During her time at USI, she has led in the development of new certificates and the Master of Arts in Second Language Acquisition and Culture. 

The Distinguished Professor Award was established in 1983 and is USI’s highest award given in recognition of significant achievement in teaching, scholarship and service. As a recipient, Rode will receive a $7,000 stipend plus a $3,000 faculty development grant underwritten by generous donors to the USI Foundation.  

Lee Cooper Core Curriculum Teaching Award

Jenn Horn

Jenn Horn, Instructor in English, was awarded the 2020 H. Lee Cooper Core Curriculum Teaching Award. Horn, who serves as the First Year Experience Liaison for the College of Liberal Arts as well as a mentor for Living Learning Communities, is also the 2021 recipient of the College of Liberal Arts Excellence in Teaching Award. 

The H. Lee Cooper Core Curriculum Teaching Award was established in 2000 and honors a USI faculty member whose work in University Core Courses (UCC) has been especially creative and successful in furthering UCC goals. As a recipient, Horn will receive a $4,000 stipend and a $2,000 faculty development grant underwritten by longtime and generous University friends, Ann and H. Lee Cooper III.  

USI Foundation Outstanding Teaching Award by New Faculty 

Dr. Srikanth Dandotkar

Dr. Srikanth Dandotkar, Assistant Professor of Psychology, was awarded the 2020 USI Foundation Outstanding Teaching Award by New Faculty. Dandotkar joined USI in 2016 and is being recognized for his ability to both teach and assist students throughout the transition to online courses caused by the pandemic, as well as his service as a mentor for a number of his students with Endeavor Research Grants.   


Dr. Kristin LaFollette's poem "[Portrait of a] Young Woman's Doppelgänger" was nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology by Rogue Agent. Read it here.

Dr. LaFollette's co-edited collection Queer Approaches: Emotion, Expression, and Communication was released by Information Age Publishing in Fall 2020.

Dr. Kristin LaFollette's two scholarly articles that will be published during the Fall 2021 semester. “Dada and Surrealism in the Composition Classroom: A Transgenre Approach to Basic Writing Pedagogy" is forthcoming in the Journal of Basic Writing and "Constellating Arts-Based and Queer Approaches: Transgenre Composing in/as Writing Studies Pedagogy" is forthcoming in the Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics.

Dr. Kristin LaFollette's full-length poetry collection, Hematology, was selected as the winner of the 2021 Harbor Editions Laureate Prize. The book will be published by Harbor Editions in November 2021.

Dr. Oana Armeanu, Chair of Political Science and Associate Professor of Political Science in the Political Science, Public Administration and Philosophy Department, participated in the international conference "Two Democratic Societies in Transition: Exploring the Dynamics of a Post-COVID World," hosted by the Danubius University in Galati, Romania with a group of USI students in September 2021.

John Sibley Williams’s poem “The Dead Just Need to be Seen. Not Forgiven.” (originally published in the fall 2019 issue of Southern Indiana Review) has been selected for the prestigious annual Best American Poetry anthology. "The 2021 edition of the leading collection of contemporary American poetry is guest edited by the former US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, providing renewed proof that this is “a ‘best’ anthology that really lives up to its title” (Chicago Tribune).

Dr. Sally Vogl-Bauer’s Communicating Ethically in Our Everyday Lives was published in July. Communicating Ethically in Our Everyday Lives provides readers with opportunities to pause and reflect on what it means to engage in ethical communication with others. It defines and explains the relationship between ethics, ethical communication, and ethical interpersonal communication and ultimately helps the reader to identify ethical interpersonal communication in people’s verbal and nonverbal messages. Published by Kendall Hunt Publishing.

The second scholarly book, Rhetorical Narratology (University of Nebraska Press, 1999) by Michael Kearns, Professor Emeritus of English, is being translated into Chinese for a new series in narrative theory, to be published by Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press. The translator, Huaiyu Luo, will also be publishing an interview with Kearns about the book; in a Chinese journal, the title of which translates into English as Narrative Studies.

Dr. Kristin LaFollette, Assistant Professor of English, was selected as the winner of the Harbor Editions Laureate Prize. Her full-length poetry manuscript, Hematology, was chosen by Missouri Poet Laureate, Karen Craigo. The prize includes publication of her manuscript by Harbor Editions. As a collection, Hematology is at the intersection of medicine and the humanities. With a focus on bodies, genetics, and trauma, the poems outline family relationships and experiences with illness, recovery, and grief.

"In this collection, there is close attention to the literal body and its blood—so much blood, plus bone and flesh and bruise and nerve and spine. Right alongside it, though, is the figurative body, which can 'glide like songs from a mouth,' or which is 'honeycomb / & milkweed, then a stack of white plates / with blue borders.' This is a lush, embodied collection with the capacity to surprise and astonish readers. I'm excited to recommend it." - Karen Craigo, MO Poet Laureate

Dr. Laura Soderberg, Assistant Professor of English, has a forthcoming book, Vicious Infants: Dangerous Childhoods in Antebellum U.S. Literature.

Vicious Infants offers a counterhistory of literary childhood as both perceived social threat and site of resistance, revealing that many children were not only cut off from family and society, they were also preemptively excluded from the rewards of citizenship and adulthood. Turning to prison documents, medical journals, overlooked periodical fiction, and literary works from William Apess, Harriet Wilson, Herman Melville, Susan Paul, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, Laura Soderberg recovers alternate narratives of childhood and provides an important window into the cultural links between race, reproduction, and childhood in the antebellum period.

The book can be purchased from the University of Massachusetts Press here.

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