Meet The Team

Meet The Team


The award-winning professors and professional staff in the Honors College guide you through your education. Our faculty are accomplished scholars who love to teach students in small classes with active learning.

FACULTY

Phillip Bimstein

Assistant Professor (Lecturer)

Phillip Bimstein

Assistant Professor (Lecturer)
I grew up in Chicago, studied classical music at Chicago Conservatory, then led a precarious double life dashing between the encyclopedia business by day and a punk rock band by night. But I fell in love with the red rocks of southern Utah, so I left behind MTV to live in Springdale, the gateway to Zion National Park.My new neighbors forgave my punkish ways and twice elected me mayor. After noticing significant and useful similarities between musical and political processes, I cooked up the Composing a Community course for the Honors College.
I also practice yoga and meditation, and I teach Radical Quiet.In Navajo legend a coyote, or “songdog,” emerged from a hole in the ground and sang the world into existence. The songdog story, and the feeling of possibility it engenders, has inspired all my work as composer, mayor and citizen. My goal as teacher is to spark that feeling and develop that capability in my students, helping them to become conscious and intentional co-creators—songdogs—singing ourselves and our communities into existence. My work can be found here
LINK TO FAR
 phillip@bimstein.com

Rachel Mason Dentinger

Assistant Professor (Lecturer)

Rachel Mason Dentinger

Assistant Professor (Lecturer)
I grew up in Minneapolis and studied and taught biology as an undergraduate. Soon afterward, I decided that I would like to write about what scientists do and how they do it, rather than being a scientist myself. I earned a Ph.D. in the history of science from the University of Minnesota, with an emphasis in the history of evolutionary biology. I also married a biologist, which has allowed me to continue to enjoy much of the fun of practicing science, at least vicariously. Living in London for several years, I had a postdoctoral fellowship in the history of medicine, which enabled me to jump into teaching medical humanities for the BlockU program at the University of Utah. I also get to draw on my history of science expertise in teaching a variety of courses for Honors, including Intellectual Traditions and Praxis Labs. I love how sharing knowledge with students both expands and deepens my own understanding in unexpected ways, enlivening my scholarship and making it more relevant to the pressing sociocultural problems we face together today. You can learn more about my work here
LINK TO FAR
 rachel.mason.dentinger@utah.edu

Randy Dryer

Presidential Honors Professor

Randy Dryer

Presidential Honors Professor
I have professionally reinvented myself several times over. I started my career as a working journalist in both print and TV and then went to law school with the thought of becoming a network correspondent reporting on the Supreme Court. Along the way, I developed a love of the law and thus began my second career as a practicing lawyer at Utah’s largest law firm. Ideveloped a media law litigation practice where I was able to combine law and journalism by representing many local and national news organizations, including 60 minutes, CNN, the New York Times, the Associated Press, Redbook Magazine and the Salt Lake Tribune. Ask me about my representation of the Globe supermarket tabloid who was sued by Marie Osmond. I have some great stories!After 30 years as a practicing lawyer, I began phase three of my professional career when I was named as the Presidential Honors Professor with a joint appointment at the law school and the Honors College. Nirvana!I believe technology can aid the learning environment and most of my classes incorporate blogs, YouTube and social media in the pedagogy. Check out the links below.
Privacy in a Digital Age
Blog Information Privacy Law video series
LINK TO FAR
 randy.dryer@law.utah.edu

Ann Engar

Professor (Lecturer)

Ann Engar

Professor (Lecturer)
I was born in Ohio but grew up in southern California. I attended Stanford University as an undergraduate and University of Washington for graduate work in English. Soon after receiving my Ph.D., I moved to the University of Utah where I have enjoyed students for over thirty years. Teaching is my passion—I love seeing students expand their thoughts, sharpen their skills, and work together in learning communities. My own teaching has transformed from lectures to group discussion and activities, especially role-playing in Reacting to the Past. I teach in both the Honors and LEAP program where I direct and teach Pre-Law LEAP. I serve as a Distinguished Bibliographer for the Modern Language Association, and am an affiliate of the Bennion Center. My students and colleagues have rewarded me with many teaching awards, including the University Distinguished Teaching Award and Distinguished Honors Professor (twice) and recently the General Education Teaching Award for Innovation.
LINK TO FAR
 ann.engar@utah.edu

MICHAEL GILLS

Professor (Lecturer)

MICHAEL GILLS

Professor (Lecturer)
I am from Lonoke County, Arkansas and attended the University of Arkansas as a first generation college student. After graduate school at the University of North Carolina and the University of Utah, I joined the Honors community where I have taught writing for fifteen years. I am the author of four collections of short fiction, five novels, and two collections of essays, including the forthcoming Finisterre: Part II of White Indians (Raw Dog Screaming Press). I teach writing as an endeavor that comes like a freight train from the heart; we must care deeply, I believe, about what we write. Student writers see my passion and the resulting workshops throw sparks. We roll up our sleeves. Chalk dust flies (or, more lately, blue squeaky markers). We interrupt each other, raise and lower our voices, get knee-deep in the work and entirely risk making fools of ourselves. I am fulfilled by teaching such workshops--what goes on in our minds and hearts matters. It is a privilege to engage young writers and their craft, the difficulties of which can be downright staggering. My undergraduate Novel Writing Workshop, the first of its kind in the nation, has been featured in USA Today, and several students have published novels at national presses from the year-long class. I am grateful to my students who have rewarded my mentorship by voting me Distinguished Honors Professor, among other recognitions.
LINK TO FAR
 m.gills@utah.edu

ANDY HOFFMANN

Professor (Lecturer)

ANDY HOFFMANN

Professor (Lecturer)
I spent formative years in Flagstaff, Arizona. There I worked for a decade as a carpenter and cabinetmaker. I spent free time roaming the Colorado Plateau and also devoted time as a student of zen at the Jemez Bodhi Manda Zen Center under the tutelage of Genro Koudela. My interest in Eastern practices and philosophy led me to Boulder, Colorado and the Naropa Institute where I received a BA in Poetics, with a minor in Modern Dance. While in Boulder, I worked as an instructor for Outdoor Leadership Training Seminars and assisted deep ecologist Dolores LaChapelle in her Breaking Through workshop, a course that integrated meditative practices with mountaineering. I picked up whitewater canoeing, a practice that continues to challenge and inform me today. I received advanced degrees in English at Penn State University and University of Utah. I’ve been teaching is one form or another since 1985. What I find most gratifying is witnessing student growth in its various forms, and the great privilege of sharing together the path of heart
LINK TO FAR
 a.hoffmann@utah.edu

Paul Ketzle

Associate Professor (Lecturer)

Paul Ketzle

Associate Professor (Lecturer)
I grew up in Miami, FL (which is actually much more boring than it sounds). After attending Florida State University for my B.A. and M.A. in Creative Writing (with a brief layover between in Eugene, OR), I got married, then moved to Utah to pursue my Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing, fell in love with the mountains, and we haven’t left. I am a novelist (The Late Matthew Brown) and have served as Editor of two different literary magazines (Quarterly West and Western Humanities Review). All of my pursuits—literary, academic, pedagogical—intersect with ideas about identity and the pursuit of social justice. I’ve been teaching in the Honors College for 15 years and the big reason I’m still here is because of the students. Teaching is endlessly challenging, but also endlessly rewarding. There is an incredible power in collaboration—both with writing and discussion—and I use both extensively in my classes. We all succeed when we are a vibrant community exchanging ideas and challenging each other to be our best. In all my classes, we grapple with important questions: about ourselves, our histories, and the world in which we live.
LINK TO FAR
 p.ketzle@honors.utah.edu

BRIAN KUBARYCZ

Associate Professor (Lecturer)

BRIAN KUBARYCZ

Associate Professor (Lecturer)
I grew up in New York and came to Utah to study literature and creative writing. I completed an MFA at the U of U and then went on to the University of Washington to study medieval literature and critical theory. Though I greatly enjoyed that research, I changed course and returned to the U of U to resume creative writing and complete my PhD. While pursuing an academic career, I have maintained my early interest in visual art and music. In addition to publishing fiction and poetry, I have exhibited paintings and recorded albums with a number of local bands. I try to make the various artistic mediums a prominent component of all the courses I teach, particularly in Intellectual Traditions II, III, and VIII. Comparing and contrasting different artistic modalities and relating them to philosophy and the sciences, has been an integral part of my teaching, along with various out-of-class excursions on and off campus. I have greatly enjoyed working with students from various disciplines. My experiences in the classroom have been some of the most exciting and happiest times in my life. Students have been generous enough to select me twice as the distinguished Honors professor of the year.
LINK TO FAR
 KNAIRB@HOTMAIL.COM

JEFFREY MCCARTHY

Professor (Lecturer)

JEFFREY MCCARTHY

Professor (Lecturer)
I grew up on the coast of Maine and was educated in New England, Britain and the Pacific Northwest. In all cases, the wild places around me have guided and motivated me. The mountains pointed me toward Utah and they continue to give me wonder mixed with fear — what some call the sublime. Now I am the Director of Environmental Humanities at the University of Utah. My work focuses on human relations to the natural world, and on the extraordinary creative expressions of modernist literature. I’ve been a Fulbright fellow, a Mellon Fellow to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas and I’ve had research fellowships at the National Humanities Center, the Calgary Institute for the Humanities and the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at Edinburgh University.
LINK TO FAR
 j.mccarthy@utah.edu

CHRISTOPHER MEAD

Assistant Professor (Lecturer)

CHRISTOPHER MEAD

Assistant Professor (Lecturer)
I grew up in the mountains of British Columbia and then attended college on the prairies, at the University of Manitoba. After completing my MA (also at Manitoba), I lived in London and Montreal for several years before moving to the US to begin graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley, where I received my Ph.D. in English in 2015. My research focuses on the relationship between technology and religion in early modern England. I teach Intellectual Traditions and Honors writing, and received the Honors Distinguished Sweet Candy Professor award in 2018.
LINK TO FAR
 c.mead@utah.edu

L. JACKSON "Jack" NEWELL

President Professor Emeritus

L. JACKSON "Jack" NEWELL

President Professor Emeritus
I grew up near Dayton, Ohio, migrated west to Deep Springs College near Death Valley at seventeen, and never got the open spaces out of my system. I tried from time to time, taking an M.A. degree in history and theology at Duke and a Ph.D. in the history and philosophy of higher education at Ohio State. Since 1974, I’ve been a professor (and dean for sixteen years) at the University of Utah, taking time out to lead Deep Springs College from 1995 to 2004. My passion has always been for education in the liberal arts and sciences spirit—to open minds to new ideas and possibilities, to build vigorous learning communities, and to relate learning to life and work. My latest books, Hope, Heart, and the Humanities: How a Free College Course is Changing Lives (coedited with Jean Cheney) and The Electric Edge of Academe: The Saga of Lucien L. Nunn and Deep Springs College explore my philosophies of education and leadership in contrasting ways. I also served on the founding board of directors of the Bennion Center for Community Service, and as editor of the higher education journal The Review of Higher Education (1986-91). I co-edited (with Linda King Newell) the scholarly journal Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (1982-87).
LINK TO FAR
 jack.newell@utah.edu

Laurence Parker

Professor & Associate Dean

Laurence Parker

Professor & Associate Dean
Dr. Laurence Parker is an Associate Dean in the Honors College and has a joint appointment in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy in the College of Education. He has taught at Temple University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and also was a recent visiting scholar at the University of California-Berkeley (spring 2018). His main area of teaching and research are in leadership & social justice (K-12 & Higher Education) and critical race theory and education policy and leadership. During his career he has published in journals such as Race Ethnicity & Education, Urban Education, Educational Administration Quarterly and Teachers College Record. He is a 2013 Derrick Bell Legacy Award winner from the Critical Race Studies in Education Association and is an active member of associations such as the American Educational Research Association. He has also worked with colleagues on campus to secure Eccles Foundation funding to support the African American Doctoral Initiative. LINK TO FAR
 laurence.Parker@utah.edu

Monisha Pasupathi

Professor & Associate Dean

Monisha Pasupathi

Professor & Associate Dean
Dr. Monisha Pasupathi an Associate Deans in the Honors College, as well as a Professor of Psychology. Prior to coming to Honors, she served as the Director of Undergraduate Studies for Psychology, where she sought to build a better curriculum for students, and to improve paths to graduation for Psychology Majors, as well as developing an interdisciplinary certificate program in quantitative analytics for the social sciences (along with current director Pascal DeBoeck). She has taught Research Methods, Honors General Psychology, and Adult Development and Aging at the undergraduate level, as well as seminars in her research areas; and has also developed a course on “How We Learn” for the Great Courses. In her research life, she studies how narrating our experiences shapes our memories, emotions, and selves across the lifespan, with NIH funded work appearing in journals as diverse as Memory, Journal of Personality, and Developmental Psychology, among others. She is a winner of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences distinguished research award for that work. In her not-very-extensive free time, she likes to make soap, charcoal portraits, and spend time in the outdoors. LINK TO FAR
 pasupathi@psych.utah.edu

PATRICIA ROHRER

Associate Professor (Lecturer) & Assistant Dean

PATRICIA ROHRER

Associate Professor (Lecturer) & Assistant Dean
I grew up in Wisconsin, earned my undergraduate degree at Rice University in Houston, and have lived and worked all over the country. New York City, where I completed a PhD at Columbia University Teachers College, and lived for 20 years, still feels the most like home. But here in Utah, I am extremely privileged and grateful to have found a wonderful professional home in the vibrant intellectual community of the Honors College.
LINK TO FAR
 p.rohrer@utah.edu

GINGER SMOAK

Associate Professor (Lecturer)

GINGER SMOAK

Associate Professor (Lecturer)
I arrived at the University of Utah seven years ago from Colorado, where I taught at Colorado State University. I received my Ph.D. at the University of Colorado and grew up in Santa Cruz, California. I am a medieval historian interested in midwifery and childbirth, anatomy and social history, and appreciate Game of Thrones. As a member of the Honors Faculty, I enjoy teaching Intellectual Traditions, Honors Writing, and Reacting to the Past courses. My paper, “Imagining Pregnancy: The Fünfbilderserie and Images of ‘Pregnant Disease Women’ in Medieval Medical Manuscripts,” won the 2013 Delno West Award for Best Paper. I am the incoming President of the Rocky Mountain Medieval and Renaissance Association, and also do work for the College Board. I also serve as the Director of the Office of Competitive Scholarships.
LINK TO FAR
 ginger.smoak@utah.edu

Sylvia Torti

Professor (Lecturer) & Dean

Sylvia Torti

Professor (Lecturer) & Dean
I grew up in Salem, Ohio, with an Argentine father and American mother, completed my undergraduate degree in Biology at Earlham College and then my PhD in Tropical Ecology at the University of Utah. I’ve lived and worked in Europe, Africa and Latin America and speak English, Spanish and Danish. Post-graduate school, I pursued creative writing, led Writers at Work in Salt Lake City and participated in artist residencies at Hedgebrook (Whidbey Island, WA), Sacatar, Brazil and Centre di Arte i Naturi (Farrera, Spain). In my novels and short stories, I try to find the places where disciplines intersect. In particular, I’m interested in the ways that science and the humanities can probe one another and potentially deepen our understanding of important human questions.
Website
LINK TO FAR
 sylvia.torti@utah.edu

Luciano Valenzuela

Instructor

Luciano Valenzuela

Instructor
I was born and raised in a small town in Argentina. My best childhood memories are in the farm running with dogs, in the sand dunes discovering lizards, and always looking at the ocean for the ever-elusive coastal dolphins. My connection with nature was always present. I studied biology at the public and free Universidad de Buenos Aires, focusing on population ecology, and in 2002 I moved to Utah for a PhD in Biology from the University of Utah studying diet and migration of the southern right whales. As a member of the NGO Instituto de Conservación de Ballenas (Whale Conservation Institute) I spent numerous hours among the whales in Península Valdés, Argentina, which change my life and my view of the interactions between humans and nature. While at the University of Utah I specialized on a particular analytical technique, called stable isotope analyses, that has allowed me to do research in different areas such as animal ecology, human physiology and diet, forensics, food traceability and bio-archaeology in the US and Argentina. After 11 years in the US, I moved back to Argentina as a CONICET researcher and now I live on the coastal city of Quequén-Necochea where I work, walk my dogs and surf!

Melissa Watt

Research Associate Professor, Population Health

Melissa Watt

Research Associate Professor, Population Health
I joined the University of Utah in 2020, where I direct and teach in the Health in Context Pathway, which provides students with a strong foundation in global health principles, grounded in an appreciation for the social determinants of health. I was born in a small town in North Carolina. As an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina, I spent a year in Ghana – first as a student studying the history of the slave trade in Ghana, and then as an independent explorer, traveling by bus throughout West Africa and relying on the kindness of strangers. After UNC, I completed a Masters in Gender and International Development at the University of Sussex in the UK and then took a job for the United Nations in South Africa in 1999, and was quickly immersed in the largest HIV epidemic globally, at a time before universal treatment was available. My work for the next four years in South Africa focused on supporting the Government of South Africa to understand and address the gender dimensions of HIV, with specific attention to the role sexual and gender-based violence plays in HIV acquisition. In 2003, I returned to the United States to pursue a PhD in Public Health at UNC. I spent a year in Tanzania as a Fulbright Scholar, where my dissertation research examined factors associated with adherence to antiretroviral therapy. After finishing my PhD, I spent 11 years as a faculty member at Duke University’s Global Health Institute. In my primary appointment in Population Health Sciences, I lead an NIH-funded research program in Moshi, Tanzania addressing HIV stigma as a barrier to prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV (visit my research website). LINK TO FAR
 u6026708@umail.utah.edu

ADVISORS | Make an Appointment

Madison Abele

Program Manager

Madison Abele

Program Manager

Madison Abele is a Student Program Manager in the Honors College. Madison was born and raised here in Salt Lake. She received both her honors bachelor's degree in Social Work and her master's degree in Social Work here at the University of Utah. She spent some time working in the Utah Scholars Program empowering and educating first generation students to prepare for college. In her spare time, Madison enjoys cycling, true crime, Dungeons and Dragons, and spending time with her husband, Garrett, and their dog, Dave."
 m.abele@honors.utah.edu

Sarah Dyer

Program Manager

Sarah Dyer

Program Manager

Sarah came to Salt Lake City from Asheville, North Carolina, and grew up in Los Alamos, New Mexico. She recently completed her masters in Environmental Humanities at the U and is particularly interested in soundscape ecology; the intersection of ecopoetics, sound art, and book arts; and the performance and production of place through social, cultural, and historical forces. She enjoys ultra-distance trail running, cross country skiing, playing the clawhammer banjo and the fiddle, printmaking, growing her own food, and keeping bees.
 sarah.dyer@utah.edu

Karleton Munn

Program Manager-Academic Advising

Karleton Munn

Program Manager-Academic Advising

 k.munn@honors.utah.edu

Alison Shimko

Program Manager, Nationally Competitive Scholarships

Virginia Solomon

Thesis Mentoring Program Manager, Faculty Instructor

Virginia Solomon

Thesis Mentoring Program Manager, Faculty Instructor

 virginia.solomon@honors.utah.edu

Dominic Walker-Pecoraro

Program Manager

STAFF

Cindy Braegger

Director, Finance & Administration

Cindy Braegger

Director, Finance & Administration
 c.braegger@honors.utah.edu

Holly Edwards

Special Assistant to Dean, Development Specialist

Holly Edwards

Special Assistant to Dean, Development Specialist
 h.edwards@honors.utah.edu

Aspen Hawkes

Administrative Assistant

Aspen Hawkes

Administrative Assistant

Aaron Reynolds

Director, Academic & Student Services

Aaron Reynolds

Director, Academic & Student Services

Aaron joined the Honors College in 2014. Previously he was an advisor at the University of Arizona and Southern Utah University. A native Utahn, Aaron grew up in a small rural town in southern Utah. After completing his undergraduate degree, he completed a master's degree in Organizational Leadership at Columbia University. He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Higher Education Administration at the U and enjoys cycling, lunching at Harmons and spending time in the Wasatch mountains. Aaron works primarily with Honors students majoring in Education, Nursing, & Engineering.
 a.reynolds@honors.utah.edu

Kate Throneburg

Development Director

Kate Throneburg

Development Director
 k.throneburg@honors.utah.edu

Jennifer Wiseman

Director of Admissions

Jennifer Wiseman

Director of Admissions

 j.wiseman@honors.utah.edu