FMU welcomes 25 new faculty members 

Francis Marion University welcomed 25 new faculty members to campus as the 2016-17 academic year began this week.

The class of new faculty is one of the largest at FMU in recent years, reflecting the accelerating pace of new programs coming on line at the university. Two of the new faculty members will teach in FMU’s brand new Physician Assistant program, and another is a third faculty member hired for FMU’s fast-growing Industrial Engineering program.

The new faculty members will teach in 13 different departments. They come from an array of academic backgrounds, and hold terminal degrees from 19 different universities including Penn, Texas Tech, George Washington, Florida, Indiana, Harvard and Colorado.


New faculty at FMU for 2016-17

Dr. Enoch Agbesi Adogla, Assistant Professor of Chemistry. B.S. from University of Ghana, M.S. from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from University of South Carolina.

Dr. Brittany B. Baker, Assistant Professor of Physics. B.S. from Northern Michigan University, M.S. from Texas Tech, Ph.D. in Physics from Texas Tech University.

Dr. Suzanne L. Barnett, Assistant Professor of English. B.A. from Hunter College of the City University of New York, Ph.D. in English from University of Pennsylvania.

Mr. David Baxley, Assistant Professor of Mass Communication. A.S. from Central Alabama Community College, B.S. from Mississippi State University, M.A. in Journalism from Mississippi State University.

Mr. Joseph Kennedy Bethle, Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies. B.S. from Slippery Rock University, M.S. in Sports Science from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Capt. Christian Bonno, Instructor of Military Science. U.S. Army.

Mr. Michael L. Del Vecchio, Instructor of Mathematics. B.A. from Rutgers University, M.S. in Mathematics from College of Charleston.

Mr. Joseph Arthur Kennedy, Assistant Professor of English. B.A. from Duke University, M.Ed. from Harvard Graduate School of Education, M.A. in English and American Literature and Language from Harvard University.

Dr. Zilola Khashimova, MD, Assistant Professor of Health Sciences PA Program.

Dr. Candace Lapan, Assistant Professor of Psychology. B.A. from University of North Carolina at Greensboro, M.A. from University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Mr. Edgar L. Larrea, Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish. B.A. from Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, M.A. from Instituto Cervantes, Ph.D. in Spanish from University of South Carolina.

Dr. Alexander Lu, Assistant Professor of Sociology. B.A. from Centenary College of Louisiana, M.A. from Louisiana State University, Ph.D. in Sociology from Indiana University.

Ms. Kathryn Mann, Instructor of English. B.A. from Coastal Carolina University, M.A. in Writing from Coastal Carolina University.

Ms. Christine L. Masters, Assistant Professor of English. B.A. from University of Washington, M.A. from Western Illinois University, Ph.D. in English from Purdue University.

Ms. Johannah Maynor, Instructor of Mathematics. B.S. from University of North Carolina, M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction from North Carolina Central University.

Dr. Bryan T. McLeod, Assistant Professor of School of Business. B.S. from Southern Illinois University, J.D. from Southern Illinois University, M.B.A. from Southern Illinois University, Ph.D. in Business Administration from Southern Illinois University.

Dr. Lisa F. Midcalf, Assistant Professor Education-Literacy. B.S. from Bob Jones University, MAT from Saginaw Valley State University, Ph.D. in Reading Education from Oakland University.

Dr. Michelle R. Murphy, Assistant Professor Education – Special Education. B.A. from University of North Carolina, M.A.Ed. from East Carolina, Ph.D. in Special Education from University of South Carolina.

Dr. Doris Páez, Assistant Professor Psychology. B.A. from University of South Florida, M.A. from University of South Florida, Ed.S. from University of South Florida, Ph.D. in Psychology from University of Florida.

Dr. Tiffany A. Phillips, Assistant Professor of Nursing. B.S. from University South Carolina, B.S. from Medical University of South Carolina, M.S./Ph.D. in Nursing from Medical University of South Carolina.

Mr. Rahul S. Renu, Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering. B.S. from Visvesvaraya Technological University, M.S. from Clemson University, Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Clemson University.

Dr. James Ritter, Assistant Professor of Education. B.A. from Western Carolina University, M.A. from Western Carolina University, Ph.D. in Literacy from University of Southern Mississippi.

Dr. Dillon S. Tatum, Assistant Professor of Political Science. B.A. from University of Arizona, M.A. from The George Washington University, M.A. from The George Washington University, Ph.D. in Political Science from The George Washington University.

Dr. Paul H. Thompson, Assistant Professor of Voice / Chorus. B.A. from Marian University, M.M. from University of Wisconsin, Ph.D. in Musical Arts in Choral Conducting and Literature from University of Colorado.

Dr. Megan Woosley-Goodman, Assistant Professor of English. B.A. from Southern Illinois University, M.A. from Southern Illinois University, Ph.D. in English Literature from University of Missouri.


Faculty tenure and promotions

Francis Marion University’s Office of the Provost recently announced the promotion of 13 faculty members for the 2016-17 academic year.

Promoted to full professor were: Dr. Wendy Caldwell Richardson, Department of English, Modern Languages, and Philosophy; Dr. Larry P. Engelhardt, Department of Physics and Astronomy; Dr. Michael P. Hughes, School of Business; Dr. Tracy E. Meetze-Holcombe, School of Education; Dr. Mary Louise Nagata, Department of History and Dr. Gregory S. Pryor, Department of Biology.

Six faculty members were promoted to associate professor. They were: Dr. Rhonda M. Brogdon, Department of Nursing; Dr. Jessica K. Doucet, Department of Sociology; Mr. Nathan E. Flowers, Rogers Library; Dr. Karen K. Gittings, Department of Nursing; Dr. Sharon K. O’Kelley, Department of Mathematics and Dr. Jan M. Serrano, School of Business

Dr. Tracy P. George of the Department of Nursing was promoted to Assistant Professor.

Additionally, six faculty members received tenure. They were: Dr. Rhonda M. Brogdon, Department of Nursing; Dr. Jessica K. Doucet, Department of Sociology; Dr. Karen K. Gittings, Department of Nursing; Dr. Sharon K. O’Kelley, Department of Mathematics; Mrs. Demetra W. Pearson, Rogers Library; and Dr. Jan M. Serrano, School of Business


Speech Pathology program will begin in 2018

Francis Marion University received final regulatory approval this fall for its graduate-level Speech Pathology degree and now expects to launch the program in 2018.  Dr. Freda Wilson was named the program’s director.

The FMU program will be just the third speech pathology program in the state of South Carolina.

The program fits with the burgeoning offerings in FMUs School of Health Sciences, which has added four new graduate programs since 2012. It meets a community need as well. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) statistics shows demand for speech pathologists is already high and expected to grow in the years ahead. The Bureau projects a 21 percent increase in the number of open positions from 2014 to 2024. Besides being one of the fastest-growing health sciences fields, it’s also one of the best paying, with annual mean wages starting at $67,850 in South Carolina according to the BLS.

Dr. Christopher Kennedy, Francis Marion University’s associate provost for academic affairs, says the program will be a valuable resource to the region and the state.

“We haven’t had to sell this program to anyone,” Kennedy says. “We have students calling — at least a few each week — that are looking to get into the program. We have all the major players coming on board. Everyone is on board.”


Board of Trustees approve DNP plan

FMU’s Board of Trustees approved an administration plan to create a Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree  at that university. The DNP would be Francis Marion’s first doctorate level degree, and is a natural follow-on to the Family Nurse Practitioner degree program, which began in 2012 and saw its first graduates in 2014.


Nursing named Center of Excellence

Francis Marion University’s Department of Nursing was named as one of 15 new Centers of Excellence by the National League for Nursing, the nation’s premier organization for nurse faculty and leaders in nursing education. A delegation from FMU’s Department of Nursing traveled to Orlando, Fla., last fall to receive the award in person.

NLN Centers of Excellence exemplify the League’s core values of caring, integrity, diversity, and excellence, and faculty at designated institutions bear a responsibility to share their experience, knowledge, and wisdom for the benefit of everyone in nursing education.

Schools and programs that receive NLN Center of Excellence recognition must meet high standards of excellence in nursing education. Each school is recognized for a particular trait that is critical to superb nursing education.

FMU was recognized for “Promoting the Pedagogical Expertise of Faculty.”  It’s one of just seven schools across the nation recognized in that area. The others in that category include Duke, Indiana, Connecticut, the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-New Orleans.


Larsen pens one-woman show

After years of performing in plays of various types, Dr. Dawn Larsen, associate professor of Theatre Arts,  finally took the plunge last semester and wrote and performed her own one-woman show.

Entitled The Vicious Hillbilly or Dating in the Deep South, the performance combines both her original musical works, as well as her personal stories of romance.

Larsen, who’s been at FMU for 10 years, was able to delve deep into her history as a performer in the Ozark Mountains to create something distinctive and deeply impactful.


It’s ‘Air Gualdi’ —30,000 miles, 25 days

Dr. Paolo Gualdi, piano virtuoso and associate professor of Music at FMU, has always been something of a road warrior. Trips home to his native Italy, combined with a rigorous performance schedule, have allowed him to pile up the frequent flyer miles for years.

But past experience pales besides Gualdi’s “insane” schedule during the holiday break last December-January. He logged more than 30,000 miles during a 25-day stretch in which he performed six concert recitals and conducted two master classes across four continents.

And dropped in to see mom for Christmas, while he was at it.

Gualdi performed in Rome and Perugia in Italy, in Shanghai, China; in Miami, and finally in Montevideo and Punta del Este, Uruguay. He conducted a workshop in Miami basically while on a layover.

“It’s exciting,” said Gualdi before departing, “but it’s also insane.”

That’s 40 math tourneys, 37 years

For the past 37 years, the equation Francis Marion + the Pee Dee’s top math students has always equaled the Pee Dee Regional High School Mathematics Tournament.

The latest one, held this fall on campus, was actually the 40th conducted since the event began in 1980.  No, the math doesn’t quite work, but there is an explanation: the first few years the event was held the math department held more than one.

The Pee Dee Regional High School Mathematics Tournament, as its officially known these days, is sponsored by Francis Marion University, Mu Alpha Theta, and the Pee Dee Education Center. It consists of two portions: a written competition, and a stage competition.

FMU’s Dr. George E. Schnibben, Jr., professor of mathematics and a tournament organizer, says the pitting of the region’s best high school mathletes against one another is a great recruiting tool for the university.

“We get probably 350 high school students on campus and they get a chance to look at us, and they might use this opportunity to select Francis Marion as the college that they want to attend,” Schnibben says. “A lot of students don’t know what to expect when they come on the campus of a university. I think it’s a pretty friendly environment. It’s a great opportunity for students to speak with the professors.”


Goff’s new work debuts at PAC

FMU Associate Professor of Music, Dr. Brandon Goff, debuted an original work entitled It is Well… A Healing Suite in November.

Goff is a gifted performer and writer whose credits include stints as a writer, performer and producer in Memphis and Nashville. He’s also worked overseas, and is a member of a group that embarks on concert tours of U.S. military bases.

His new work was commissioned by McLeod Health as a part of the 100th anniversary of the founding of McLeod Health, and was performed by the Florence Symphony Orchestra and Masterworks Choir.

Goff says he called on his experiences from his youth, when he spent hours in church in his small Arkansas hometown listening to his parents, and others sing hymns, while writing It is well … The work’s movements were all based on hymns or other songs from similar genres.


College of Liberal Arts


Department of History

Dr. Elena Eskridge-Kosmach, associate professor of History,  published an article in The Journal of Slavic Military Studies regarding the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878.  … Dr. Scott Kaufman, the History department’s new chair, has started writing a new book on President Gerald Ford just he submitted his biography of President Ford, Power, Pragmatism, and Part: The Life of Gerald Ford to the University Press of Kansas. Kaufmann also presented a paper entitled Complications over Cyprus: The Ford Administration and Its First Foreign Policy Crisis at the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations Conference, along with a longer version to the journal The Historian. … Dr. Jessica Burke, assistant professor of Sociology, presented five papers at professional conferences this fall,  two of which were co-authored with Dr. Lisa Eargle, chair of the FMU Department of Sociology, and Thomas Brown, a senior sociology major. … Dr. Alexander Lu, assistant professor of Sociology, published a book chapter entitled Newspaper Portrayals and Emotional Connection Strategies: Commemoration Model Minority Murder Victims and in the book Asian/Americans and Education: A Critical Analysis of the “Model Minority” as Perpetrators and Victims of Crime.


School of Education

A combined paper by Dr. Tracy Meetze-Holcombe, Dr. Shirley Bausmith and Dr. Stephen Taylor of the FMU School of Education, entitled University Life 101: The

Freshmen Two Years Later was presented at the Southeastern Regional Association of Teacher Educators (SRATE) Fall 2016 Conference in October. … Dr. Callum Johnston, associate professor in the School of Education, presented a talk for the Social Sciences and Humanities Symposium at FMU entitled The Effects Positive Learning Environments in Early Childhood Education of Pro-Social Lessons on the Establishment of. … Dr. Tammy Pawloski, professor of Education, offered nearly 70 presentations over the last half of 2016 addressing a multitude of themes. … Dr. Lisa Midcalf, assistant professor in the School of Education,  presented a paper at the South Carolina Association of Teacher Educators entitled Content Area Reading: Are We Winning the Battle?


School of Health Sciences

Dr. Rhonda Brogdon, associate professor of Nursing, was the opening plenary speaker at the 2016 Female Leadership Conference: Strengthening & Empowering the 21st Century Woman.  … A presentation by Dr. Tracy George, assistant professor of Nursing, entitled Use of Service Learning to Teach Health Literacy with Online Graduate Nursing Students, was delivered at the Eighth  Annual Health Literacy Research Conference in Bethesda, Md. … Dr. Ruth Wittmann-Price, Dean of the School of Health Sciences, made three presentations: Self Mercy, Disabilities and Student Boundaries and lecture and web-cast at the Full Day Conference portion of the CNE Review.