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Honors Program

Honors Program Faculty

Dr. Amr Al-Azm

Dr. Al-Azm was educated in the UK, reading Archaeology of Western Asiatics at the University of London, Institute of Archaeology and graduate with a doctoral degree in 1991. He has excavated a number of sites including Tell Hamoukar in Syria and one possibly associated with Ghengis Khan's final resting place in Mongolia. He was the Director of Scientific and Conservation Laboratories at the General Department of Antiquities and Museums (1999-2004) and head of the Centre for Archaeological Research at the University of Damascus (2003-2006). He has taught at the University of Damascus (1999-2006) and served as Dean of University Requirements at the Arab European University (2005-2006). He is also a keen observer of Middle East events, in particular Syria and its neighbors. He was a visiting Assistant Professor at Brigham Young University, teaching courses in political science and anthropology (2006-2009). Currently he is an Assistant Professor at Middle East History and Anthropology at SSU.

Email:  aalazm@shawnee.edu

Dr. Michael Barnhart

Dr. Michael Barnhart serves as associate professor of music and media at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio.He holds a doctorate in composition from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music where his primary teachers were Mara Helmuth and Allen Otte. His creative output includes works for soloists, ensembles, and computer music that have been presented both locally and internationally as well as on radio and television. Past projects include the creation of a rural multi-media studio funded by the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund, residency at the Studio for Electronic Instruments and Music in the Netherlands and recordings and performances as a founding member of the group Current Quartet. In 2010 he served as program chair for the Piece Plus Paper track of the International Computer Music Conference in New York. He has received commissions and support from the University of Cincinnati, OCEAn, Meet The Composer, the Third Practice Festival, the GE Fund, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, Ensemble Sirius, the Shanghai Opera Orchestra and Percussion Group Cincinnati. He is currently developing new music for automated pipe organ and celebrating the release of his realizations of John Cage's Imaginary Landscape Number 5 by Mode records.

Email:  mbarnhart@shawnee.edu

Dr. Bob Deal

Dr. Bob Deal has been at Shawnee State since 1988 and is currently a full professor in biology. He holds his master's degree from Miami University in Botany and his Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from Cornell University. Before coming to Shawnee, he taught biology and forestry at Glenville State College for 15 years. He has research interests in phycology, ecology, forestry (dendrochronology), entomology, and economic and taxonomic botany, and has mentored many students' and their research projects during his career. As well, Dr. Deal has also taught Elder Hostel courses and been an assistant track coach.

Email: bdeal@shawnee.edu

Dr. Sean Dunne

Dr. Sean Dunne, Instructor in Sociology, earned his Bachelor's Degree in Sociology at James Madison University, his Master's Degree in Sociology at University College Dublin, and his PhD in Sociology at Trinity College Dublin. Sean has previously lectured in several academic settings in Ireland, including the National College of Art & Design, Whitehall College of Further Education and Dublin Institute of Technology. Sean's research and teaching interests include Critical Theory, Criminology, Environmental Sociology, Media Studies, Political Sociology, Race and Ethnic Studies, and the Sociology of Sport.

Email: sdunne@shawnee.edu

Dr. Tony Dzik

Dr. Anthony (Tony) Dzik is Professor of Geography. He earned the Ph.D. in Geography from Northwestern University (1986). His teaching and research interests are in regional, physical, medical, and cultural geography. He has authored and co-authored several books, Not That Flat: Physical Geography of Rugged Sedimentary Landscapes of the Great Plains, Badlands of the American West: A Primer, The Pillars of Kedvale Avenue: A Geography of a Chicago West Side Neighborhood in the 1960s, Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volare: An American Car Story, and The Interpretation of Our Physical Landscape. He has published a number of articles in journals such as Ohio Medicine, Ohio Journal of Science, Professional Geographer, Virginia Geographer, South Dakota Journal of Medicine, Geographia Medica, North Dakota Quarterly, and Bulletin of the Illinois Geographical Society.

Email: Tdzik@shawnee.edu

Dr. Doug Darbro

Dr. Doug Darbro, Associate Professor of Mathematics, has taught at SSU since 1994. After receiving his B.S. from Morehead State University in 1989, he obtained his M.A. (1994) and Ph.D. (2002) from the University of Kentucky. Dr. Darbro resides in Carlisle, Kentucky, with his wife, Tonia, and their two daughters, Sadie and Bailey, who are adopted from China. Dr. Darbro regularly teaches Principles of Statistics, Statistics 1, and Statistics 2 at SSU, and currently serves as Chairperson of the Mathematics Department. He enjoys playing golf, spending time on his boat, and cheering for the University of Kentucky!

Email: ddarbro@shawnee.edu

Dr. Andrew Feight

Andrew Lee Feight, Ph.D., is a native of Sandy Springs, Georgia. He graduated from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, and completed his graduate studies in history at the University of Kentucky, receiving his Ph.D. in 2001. He is a former associate editor of the Portsmouth Free Press and winner of the Kentucky Historical Society's Richard H. Collins Award for his writing on the history of the antislavery movement in the Ohio Valley. Dr. Feight's research and writing focuses on the history of the Portsmouth, Ohio, and larger Lower Scioto Valley

Email: afeight@shawnee.edu

Dr. Isabel Graziani

Dr. Isabel Graziani teaches many of SSU's Introduction to Art classes, and also teaches upper-level art history courses. Dr. Graziani presented "Art and Power: A Female Perspective" on March 13, 2007 at the Southern Ohio Museum. The presentation was one of a series scheduled by SSU's Women's Center in celebration of National Women's History Month. Professor Graziani, who is a native of Italy and who now divides her time between her residences in Portsmouth and Athens, Ohio, plans to offer other Honors Art History courses in the future.


Graziani has also served as a mentor for previous SSU Celebration of Scholarship presenters. As well, she organized a special topics study abroad courses, including one to Britain.

E-mail:  igraziani@shawnee.edu

Prof. Carl Hilgarth

Professor Carl Hilgarth is a full professor and Department Chair of Engineering Technologies at Shawnee State University (SSU). He holds an M.S. in Engineering Management from the University of Missouri-Rolla, and a Certificate in Spiritual Formation from Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, GA. Hilgarth has been a faculty at SSU for 20-years. Prior to joining SSU, he was employed for 28-years as an engineer and engineering project manager in the aerospace industry. He is a Fellow of the American Society for Engineering Management (ASEM), an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), a member of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), and the Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering (ATMAE). He has contributed several papers to engineering and educational organizations on topics of interest to the field of engineering management, ethics, education, community involvement, and aerospace test and development facilities. In addition to instructing engineering technology courses, he has been a senior seminar faculty since the 1990's.

Email: chilgarth@shawnee.edu

Dr. Janet Holtman

Janet Holtman earned her B.A. and M.A. degrees in English at Ohio University in Athens, OH, and used those credentials during stints as a proofreader and copy editor in Washington, D.C. before returning to graduate school and earning a Ph.D. in English from Pennsylvania State University in 2004. Her primary teaching and research specializations are: American literature, Southern literature, and Critical Theory. Her work has been published in The Southern Quarterly, Postmodern Culture, and most recently, in American Studies. She has been a faculty member at Shawnee State University since 2007.

Email: jholtman@shawnee.edu

Dr. Daniel Johnson

Dr. Daniel Johnson received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Baylor University in 2011. His areas of interest include metaphysics (what is the functional nature of reality?), espistemology (what are knowledge and ration belief, and how do we get them?), and the philosophy of religion (does God exist and is it reasonable to believe that he does?). He also regularly teaching ethics, Asian philosophy, and the philosophy of sport at Shawnee. In his spare time, he likes to play fantasy football and he regularly succumbs to the illusion that he has some sort of control over whether he wins or not.

Email: djohnson2@shawnee.edu

Prof. Shannon Lawson

Professor Shannon Lawson has been involved in education for the past 20 years, serving as tutor, preschool teacher, literacy volunteer, reference librarian and college instructor. She received her BA in English from the University of the Witwatersrand http://www.wits.ac.za/ in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1988 and her MA in teaching English from Marshall University http://www.marshall.edu/ in Huntington, WV in 1994. In her tenth year at SSU, she has served as UFS Secretary, facilitator of the Early Service Faculty Learning Community, and past chair of the Women's Center Steering Committee.Lawson spent six years working and studying in South Africa in the 1980s. She first traveled there in 1982 and worked as a secretary for the American Consulate in Johannesburg. While a student at WITS, she spent her holidays working at the American International School of Johannesburg http://www.aisj-jhb.com. After completing her BA, she returned to the US and completed her master's degree at Marshall University in 1994. Third World Literature and African Literature in particular are of special interest to Lawson. Some of her favorite authors are Doris Lessing, Chinua Achebe, Ngugi Wa Thiongo and Jean Rhys. Lawson currently resides in Portsmouth, Ohio with her husband and two sons. She is interested in fighting hunger and illiteracy in her community. She is an active volunteer at both her sons' schools, a volunteer tutor at the Portsmouth Public Library, director of the Pleasant Green Baptist Church food pantry and a member of the local Crop Walk planning committee.

Email: slawson@shawnee.edu

Dr. Rhoni Maxwell-Rader

Dr. Rhoni Maxwell-Rader, Associate Professor of psychology, has taught at SSU since 2002. While Dr. Rader's primary areas are counseling and developmental, she considers herself more of a generalist with a wide variety of interests, including personality, women's issues, health & wellness, and career-related issues. Her primary area of interest/expertise is in death education and counseling, where she is currently completing her national certification in thanatology. Dr. Rader currently serves as coordinator of the psychology major and internship program. She has also been honored for her skill in the classroom and service to students, being nominated for both the college of arts & sciences teaching award and the Shawnee Bear Hug award. As well, Dr. Rader was recently named Outstanding Mentor at Shawnee. All of her degrees, including her Ph.D., were obtained from Ohio University. Outside of the classroom, Rhoni is a vocalist in several choirs/chorales, is a wine enthusiast, loves to cook, complete home improvement projects and spend time with her husband and three pooches.

Email: rmaxwellrader@shawnee.edu

Dr. Nicholas Meriwether

Dr. Nicholas Meriwether, Associate Professor of Philosophy, has taught at SSU since 1996. After receiving his B.A. from Hendrix College, he obtained his M.A. from Trinity Evangelical Div. School, and then earned his Ph.D. from Purdue University. Dr. Meriwether resides in Portsmouth with his wife, Janet.

Email: nmeriwether@shawnee.edu

Dr. Roberta Milliken

Dr. Roberta Milliken is Professor of English. She teaches medieval and Renaissance literature, composition, senior seminar, women in medieval history, and a variety of other courses. A graduate of Ohio University (BA and MA) and The University of Toledo (PhD), she also spent a year in doctoral study at Memorial University of Newfoundland where she was a University Fellow. Milliken proposed and taught the first Women's Studies class at Shawnee State University, and she later successfully initiated the Women's Studies Minor with the help of a number of other dedicated faculty members. Milliken was also a founding member of and served as the first Director for the Women's Center at Shawnee State University. She is the author of Ambiguous Locks: An Iconology of Hair in the Art and Literature of the Middle Ages and is currently Chair of the English and Humanities Department.

Email:  rmilliken@shawnee.edu

Dr. Mich Yonah Nyawalo

Mich Yonah Nyawalo is an Assistant Professor of World Literature at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio. He is also the current director of the Honors Program. He earned his Bachelor’s and Master of Arts degrees in English (with specializations in literature, sociolinguistics and cultural studies) at West University and Gothenburg University (respectively) in Sweden. He completed his second Master’s as well as a Ph.D. in comparative literature with a focus on media and globalization studies at the Pennsylvania State University. He is fluent in French, English, Swedish, Swahili and Luo. His areas of specialization are globalization studies, postcolonial criticism, African literatures (including audio and visual cultures from the continent), media studies, critical pedagogy and service learning. The years he has spent living and studying in Kenya, Uganda, France, Sweden and the United States have highly defined his academic projects, which appropriate a mixture of critical tools and scholarly texts derived from the fields of African, African Diaspora and African American Studies. As a comparatist, his research is fully grounded in the intersections of literary criticism, economic history, mass communications and cultural studies. 

Email:  mnyawalo@shawnee.edu 

Dr. Jennifer Pauley

Dr. Jennifer Pauley received her B.A. in English/Humanities from Shawnee State University, her M.A. in Rhetoric and Composition from Western Illinois University, and her Ph.D. in English Studies from Ohio University. Dr. Pauley teaches freshman composition and upper-division British literature courses, and currently serves as SSU's Interim Director of Composition.

Email: jpauley@shawnee.edu

Dr. Darrell Rudmann

Dr. Rudmann, Associate Professor of Psychology, earned his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Psychology from California State University, Long Beach, and his Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Illinois in 2005. He has published several papers and made numerous conference presentations. He has been teaching undergraduate psychology since 1995 and is a member of the Association for Psychological Science and the Midwestern Psychological Association. His research areas of interest are in astronomy education and voice memory.

Email: drudmann@shawnee.edu

Dr. Marc Scott

Marc Scott is an Assistant Professor in the English and Humanities Department and directs the Shawnee State University Writing Center. He earned his Bachelors degree in literature from San Francisco State University, his Masters degree in literature and writing studies from California State University San Marcos, and his doctoral degree in rhetoric and professional communication from New Mexico State University. His scholarly interests include writing assessment, composition pedagogy, research methodologies, and rhetoric. Professor Scotts doctoral dissertation focused on writing assessment and argued for ways students can become more involved in the assessment process. When not teaching, researching, or serving on committees, Dr. Scott enjoys spending time with his wife, Jennifer, and their pets Biscuit, June Bug, and Tripper. He also enjoys fishing, woodworking, and barbecuing.

Email: mscott@shawnee.edu

Dr. Kurt Shoemaker

In his Honors courses, Dr. Shoemaker takes the approach of examining controversy as it applies to science – both controversy within the sciences as well as controversy about science. His Honors students spend a lot of time debating two of the most controversial scientific ideas – global climate change and human evolution.Dr. Shoemaker grew up in Canton, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor's in Geology at Mount Union College, and his Ph.D. in Geology at Miami of Ohio. He taught Geology and Environmental Science at Saint Joseph's College in Indiana for six years before he came to SSU; he has been here for three years. His academic interests seem pretty diverse – environment, volcanic systems, and human evolution – but actually, he says, there's a sensible explanation for how it all ties together. Dr. Shoemaker also likes to read, mostly nonfiction on all sorts of topics. He also love movies – everything from Oscar winners to comic-book adaptations. He appreciates tattoos as an art form. He collects Pez dispensers. He's also been known to brew his own beer on occasion. He loves to travel; anyplace of geological or historical significance is of particular interest to him. He's been lucky to be able to travel all over the United States as a geologist. Some of the most isolated and desolate, but beautiful, country that he has ever seen is on the Owyhee Plateau, where Oregon, Idaho and Nevada come together; he did my dissertation research there. And he always has a lot of fun in St. Louis, of all places. Someday Dr. Shoemaker would like to be wealthy enough to have a place on one of the Lake Erie islands.

Email: kshoemaker@shawnee.edu

Prof. Patricia Spradlin

Professor Spradlin received her Bachelor's Degree in English and Fine Art at Marshall University in 1984 and a Master's Degree in English Humanities, also from Marshall University in 1988. Her special interests are contemporary poetry and painting. She taught both English and visual art for seventeen years in the public schools, in grades ranging from six to twelve. Prior to coming to SSU, she also taught composition at both SSU and Ohio University's Southern Campus. She then spent time as a full time instructor at Ohio University in Athens, and returned to public school teaching before coming to Shawnee State. At Shawnee State University, where she has taught for the past seven years in both the English and Humanities Department and the Education Department, she currently teaches composition courses, English Methods for Middle Childhood and English Methods for Secondary English Education majors. She also teaches Modern American and British Literature and supervises English Education student teachers in the field. As Director for the OhioWins program (Ohio Writing Institute) Professor Spradlin administrates and conducts writing workshops for area high school teachers, and she feels rewarded by this work because it contributes to colleagues whom she admires and enjoys spending professional time with. As a past recipient of the Sallie Mae National Teacher of the Year, the Ashland Oil Golden Achiever Educator's Award, Phi Delta Kappa's Educator of the Year Award, Professor Spradlin is most proud of her classes that use interactive, creative teaching methods designed to emphasize student writing and response as the focus of the class. Her special interests include music of all kinds, art, writing poetry, sports and animals. Professor Spradlin is a member of the Wheelersburg United Methodist Church in Wheelersburg, where she resides with her husband, Rod.

Email:  pspradlin@shawnee.edu

Dr. David Todt

Dr. David Todt has been at Shawnee State University for over thirty years serving as a faculty member in natural resources, biology, and teacher education; department chair of Math/Science and head of Teacher Education, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and as the Associate Provost and Director of Institutional Planning at Shawnee. He now serves the university as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Dr. Todt has worked extensively with public schools, especially in the areas of science, reading, and technology. Prior to Shawnee State, he taught high school science and worked for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Dr. Todt has the Bachelor of Applied Science and the Master of Environmental Science degrees from Miami University and a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University. His research interests include environmental literacy and field ornithology

Email:  dtodt@shawnee.edu

Dr. Lavanya Vemsani

Lavanya Vemsani is associate professor of Asian History and Religious Studies at Shawnee State University, Portsmouth, OH. She previously taught in the School of Social Sciences in the Department of Religious Studies, and Comparative Literature at the McMaster University (Hamilton, ON) and St. Thomas University (Fredericton, NB) in Canada, and Andhra University and B.R. Ambedkar Open University in India. She graduated from Osmania University, Hyderabad, India with M. A., and went on to complete two doctorates in History and Religious Studies (from University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India and McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada). She is also the recipient of a number of distinguished research awards and grants including the Best Canadian Ph.D. dissertation on South Asia 2007, Honorable Mention prize by the South Asia Council of Canadian Asian Studies Association and Post-Doctoral Research Grant of the Shastri Indo Canada Institute, Government of Canada and Junior Research Fellowship of University Grants Commission, Government of India. She is the author of the book, Hindu and Jain Mythology of Balarama and a number of articles on History and Religions of India. She Chairs the Religion in India Section of the American Academy of Religion- Mid Atlantic Region (AAR-MAR). Her research interests include Hinduism, Jainism, and Popular religions of India, Early modern women, early history of India, Classical and Modern literatures of India. She teaches courses on world history and world religions and in particular courses on history and religious studies of India including regions of South, Southeast Asia and East Asia. She also researches educational methods and theories. She has recently obtained Sloan C Certificate of Online Teaching and offers Online and Blended courses at Shawnee State University.

Email:  lvemsani@shawnee.edu

Honors Program

Contact Information

Mich Yonah Nyawalo,
Director, Honors Program 

Department of English & Humanities
Massie 422

Shawnee State University
940 Second Street
Portsmouth, OH 45662

(740) 351-3480 
mnyawalo@shawnee.edu

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