Fifteen Northwestern State faculty receive tenure, 12 earn promotion

Fifteen Northwestern State University faculty have received tenure and 12 have received promotions effective with the start of the 2021-22 academic year. according to Dr. Greg Handel, provost and vice president for academic affairs. The Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System approved the tenure and promotion recommendations.

Faculty who received tenure were Dr. Melissa Aldredge, Dr. Jason Powell and Dr. Danny Upshaw of the School of Business, Tamara Baxter, Dr. Stacey Joslin, Melinda Parnell and Dr. Mary Zapczynski of the School of Nursing, Dr. Joseph Briseño of the Department of English, Foreign Languages & Cultural Studies, Dr. Xinjia Chen of the Department of Engineering Technology, Kari Cook of the School of Allied Health, Corbin Covher and Dr. Oliver Molina of the Dear School of Creative and Performing Arts, Dr. Jennifer Hill and Dr. Chad Thibodeaux of the School of Biological and Physical Sciences and Dr. Dean Kostantaras of the Louisiana Scholars’ College.

Receiving promotion to professor were Dr. Rondo Keele of the Louisiana Scholars’ College, Dr. Kimberly McAlister of the Gallaspy Family College of Education and Human Development and Kirstin Riehl of the School of Creative and Performing Arts.

Those promoted to associate professor were Briseño, Covher, Hill, Molina, Thibodeaux, Dr. Weiwen Liao and Dr. Lily Pharis of the School of Business and Dr. Linda Nichols of the School of Nursing.

Daniel Gordy of the Department of English, Foreign Language, and Cultural Studies and Department of Criminal Justice, History and Social Sciences and Emily Zering of the Department of New Media, Journalism and Communication Arts were promoted to assistant professor.

Aldredge holds a Doctor of Business Administration in Advanced Accounting and has over 25 years of teaching experience at the collegiate level. She currently serves as the coordinator of accounting for the College of Business and Technology at Northwestern State. In 2019, she received the NSU Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award and was awarded the Poindexter Foundation Endowed Professorship in Accounting. Aldredge is a certified public accountant with prior “Big 8” public accounting experience and is an active member of the Louisiana Society of CPAs where she serves on the Accounting Education Issues Committee. She is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and consults part-time as a CPA.

Baxter, MSN, RN, CNE, is the campus coordinator for Northwestern State College of Nursing on the Natchitoches campus, and holds the rank of assistant professor. Baxter teaches in both the Associate of Science and Bachelor of Science programs.  Baxter earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2003 from Northwestern State, as well as her Master of Science in Nursing in 2007. In 2018, Baxter earned the National League for Nursing, certified nurse educator recognition (CNE) Baxter, has taught in NSU’s   Bachelor of Science and Associate of Science programs and has served as an undergraduate coordinator for both. She has also been the LPN to RN and BSN coordinator and military student coordinator. Baxter is a member of the Louisiana Nurses Association and is the president elect for the Shreveport District Nurses Association which includes Natchitoches Parish, Phil Kappa Phi and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society.

Briseño holds a Ph.D. in English with an emphasis in creative writing and Latinx Literature from the University of North Texas.  His first novel, “Down and Out,” was published in 2018 by Gold Wake Press.  His short work has been featured in Smokelong Quarterly, Waxwing, Acentos Review, and many others.  At Northwestern State, Briseño has helped to transform creative writing from a half-dozen courses to a vibrant and growing program, offering both a concentration and a minor.  He is the faculty advisor for the Brainy Acts Poetry Society, and coordinates the Cane River Reading Series, which brings regional and national writers to campus to share their work.  

Chen joined NSU’s faculty in 2016.  Before joining NSU, he taught at Louisiana State University and Southern University for more than 10 years.  He also has two years of industrial experiences in information technology. Chen’s teaching and research interests are in the general area of electrical engineering and computer sciences.   He has reshaped several courses to enhance the hands-on ability of ET students and prepare them for industrial jobs.  Chen researches circuit systems, controls, communications, signal processing, machine learning, probability, and statistics with engineering applications.  He has published two book chapters and 18 peered review papers in internationally prestigious journals and 29 peered review papers in proceeding of international conferences. He is principal investigator for a proposal for enhancing the infrastructures of teaching and research of automation, robotics and research awarded by the Louisiana Board of Regents.

Cook is an associate professor of radiologic sciences on the Cenla campus. She is responsible for clinical education and teaching of didactic courses (online and face-to-face) including patient care, medical terminology, advanced patient care, research, healthcare management, quality management, culture and ethics, advanced practices and advanced procedures. Cook has been a full-time member of the faculty since 2003. Cook earned a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Technology at Northwestern State and a Master of Science in Radiologic Sciences at Midwestern State University. She is pursuing an Ed.D. in Adult Learning and Development at Northwestern State and plans to complete her doctorate in May. She has made several professional presentations and provided book reviews within her field.

 Covher has been facilities manager and assistant professor of art at Northwestern State since 2015 and a faculty member since 2014. He teaches courses in sculpture, design and figure drawing. Covher was the recipient of the 2020 Donald F. Derby Endowed Professorship for Art. Covher wrote and received four grants, funding machinery and upgrades for multiple labs in the department, including a small-scale recycling system for students to design solutions for single use plastic problems. Covher has served as board member for several groups including Natchitoches Young Professionals, NSU Art Imps and Keep Natchitoches Beautiful. Covher has been the director of the NSU Art Camp for ages 5-18 since 2016. Covher is also the NSU Arts Coordinator for LA Gear-Up. Covher designed the cover of two books for an award-winning author and created a comic book character development class where he serves as art director for the creation of the author’s first comic book.

 Hill joined NSU in 2016.  She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of Hawaii, where she studied Marine Natural Products and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Virginia, where she studied the mechanism of action of bleomycin and ribosomal protein synthesis.  She was an NIH post-doctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School in the field of aminoglycoside antibiotic interaction with RNA.  Her current research interests are in medicinal chemistry, where she is interested in antibiotic and antiviral medication mechanisms.  She teaches chemistry for nursing and allied health majors, general chemistry, organic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, and general science courses.  She is principal investigator for a funded proposal from the Louisiana Board of Regents that involves enhancement of undergraduate scholarship through nuclear magnetic spectroscopy. 

Joslin, DNP, RN, teaches in the Associate of Science in Nursing program at Northwestern State. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Louisiana College, a Master of Science in Nursing from Lamar University, and Doctor of Nursing Practice from Northwestern State. Joslin has more than 25 years of nursing experience in medical/surgical nursing, geriatrics, case management and rehabilitation. Her masters and doctoral work focused on identification and implications of hydration status among rehabilitation patients.

 Kostantaras has been a member of the faculty in the Louisiana Scholar’s College since 2017. He earned a Ph.D. at George Washington University in European history and is the author of “Nationalism and Revolution in Europe, 1763 – 1848” published in 2020 and “Infamy and Revolt: The Rise of the National Problem in Early Modern Greek Thought” published in 2006. Kostantaras has had 10 articles published in national and international professional journals. He has made numerous presentations at professional conferences. He has taught at Northern Virginia Community College, Prince George’s Community College, George Washington University, York University and the University of Illinois at Chicago before joining the Scholars’ College.

Molina is an assistant professor of music and assistant director of bands. As an active percussion performer, educator, arranger, adjudicator, and clinician, Molina has presented and performed at various state Day of Percussion events, PASIC, NCPP and other music conferences and festivals. He earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Percussion Performance and Pedagogy at the University of Iowa under Dr. Dan Moore.  Additionally, he is a founding member of the Omojo Percussion Duo and the Ninkasi Percussion Group. Molina serves as chair for PAS Education Committee and as vice president of the Louisiana PAS Chapter. He is a Yamaha Performing Artist and an education endorser of Vic Firth Sticks and Mallets, Remo Drum Heads, Sabian Cymbals, and Black Swamp Percussion. His professional affiliations include the Percussive Arts Society, National Association for Music Education, National Society for Steel Band Educators and the College Music Society.

Parnell, MSN, RN teaches in the Associate of Science in Nursing program at Northwestern State and holds the rank of assistant professor. Parnell completed her practical nursing licensure at Minden Vocational Technical School, her Associate of Science in Nursing at Louisiana Tech University, her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and her Master of Science in Nursing from Northwestern State. She has more that 37 years of nursing experience in medical/surgical nursing, geriatrics and long-term care. Her master’s work focused on the perception of appropriate and inappropriate behaviors between student and faculty in the academic setting.

 Powell is an associate professor of computer information systems and holds the Roy O Martin Endowed Professorship. He has a Bachelor and Master of Computer Science from Stephen F. Austin State University and a Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of North Texas. His teaching focus is computer programming, databases, and data analytics, and his research interests include multidisciplinary applications of computer science. In 2021, he was elected as program chair for the forthcoming Association of Business Information Systems 2022 Conference and currently serves NSU as a faculty senator and the QEP coordinator for computer information systems.

Thibodeaux joined NSU in 2016. Before joining NSU, he had been teaching at McNeese State University for one year. Thibodeaux’s research interests are in the general area of analytical chemistry. Specifically, studying trace metals, microplastics and organic pollutants in the environment. He has developed a chemistry concentration for the Physical Science degree and developed courses in quantitative and instrumental analysis, and forensic chemistry. He is also the co-principle investigator for a proposal that acquired and gas chromatography – mass spectrometry instrument to enhance the teaching and research capabilities for the School of Biological and Physical Sciences. He has published several research articles in peered review journals and accompanied students at state conferences. He is also a member of the American Chemical Society. 

Upshaw holds the David D. Morgan Endowed Professorship and is an associate professor of marketing in the College of Business & Technology. A graduate of Louisiana Tech’s D.B.A program, he also holds degrees in English (B.A., M.A.) and business (M.B.A) from The University of Louisiana at Monroe. Prior to employment at NSU, he owned a real-estate business, taught marketing at Spring Hill College, taught English at ULM, and worked in the insurance industry. Upshaw frequently publishes and presents at conferences, with recent articles featured in the “Marketing Education Review” and the “Journal of Marketing Development and Competitiveness.”  In class, he offers his students a compelling learning experience and fun, interactive environment.

Zapczynski, DNP, APRN-FNP-BC, CNN, CNE is an Assistant Professor of Nursing in the Graduate Program.  Zapczynski has been a family nurse practitioner since 2007, practicing in nephrology and primary care. Prior to joining the graduate faculty at Northwestern State in 2016, Zapczynski was a clinical instructor for BSN and ASN students through the Willis Knighton/NSU Partnership. Zapczynski completed her education at Northwestern State earing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1983 a Master of Science in Nursing//FNP in 2007 and the Doctor of Nursing Practice in 2018. Her area of interest is increasing the awareness of chronic kidney disease among primary care providers. Zapczynski is a Certified Nephrology Nurse, a Certified Nurse Educator and is certified in online teaching.

Gordy joined Northwestern’s faculty in the Fall of 2018. He teaches in the Department of English, Foreign Language, and Cultural Studies & Department of Criminal Justice, History and Social Sciences. He holds a M.A. in Liberal Arts with concentrations in both English and Criminal Justice. With over a decade of experience in Technical Communication and Adult Education, he is currently pursuing his doctorate in Adult Learning and Workforce Development, planning to research and improve upon correctional education theory and pedagogical practices. Other areas of academic research include, pop-culture pedagogy, technology integration in the classroom, applied psycholinguistics, correctional classification systems and digital storytelling.  

Keele earned a B.A. in Philosophy and a B.S. in Anthropology at the University of Utah, where he also completed a master’s degree in Philosophy.  For his philosophy Ph.D. at Indiana University he studied medieval philosophy, logic, and German Idealism, also completing a Ph.D. minor in Religious Studies and a certificate in Medieval Studies.  His research areas include William of Ockham (d. 1347) and his contemporaries, and late medieval scholasticism more generally.  He lectures in the College’s great books sequence, and also teaches ancient philosophy, medieval philosophy, logic, gnostic Christianity and classical Latin poetry.  He has written books and articles on Franciscan theologian William of Ockham, and his contemporaries Walter Chatton and Peter Auriol. 

Liao is the recipient of Karl & Linda Moore Endowed Professorship in Business. She joined NSU in 2015 after more than a decade of teaching and research in both China and Canada. Liao teaches BUAD3270 (International Business) and MGT 3580 (Operations Management) face-to-face and online. She holds a Ph.D. in management. Liao has more than 20 publications in peer-reviewed academic journals, proceedings, and books in both US and China. She is a member of the Academy of Management (AOM), The Academy of International Business (AIB), the Association of North America Higher Education International (ANAHEI) and the Phi Beta Delta – Honor Society for International Scholars.

With over 30 years as an educator, McAlister has served as the Dean of the Gallaspy College of Education and Human Development at NSU since 2018. McAlister has previously served as faculty, assessment coordinator, and department head at NSU.  

Her educational background includes a B.S. in Mathematics Education, M.Ed. in Educational Administration and Supervision, and Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction. McAlister is active professionally, serving as past-president of the Louisiana Association of Colleges in Teacher Education (LAACTE).  As part of LAACTE, she has collaborated with colleagues across the state along with the Louisiana Department of Education and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on matters of policy, educator preparation requirements and accreditation. McAlister is also the treasurer of Teacher Education Council of State Colleges and Universities (TECSCU), a group focused on the advancement of high-quality educator preparation within comprehensive public colleges and universities. 

Nichols EdD, RN, CNE, CCRN-K is an assistant professor for the College of Nursing and School of Allied Health and is the nursing coordinator for the Leesville campus. Her clinical background includes 30 years of caring for critically ill patients. She has taught in both the ASN and BSN programs at NSU. Nichols attended McNeese State University, where she earned her BSN in 1987 and her MSN in 1995. She earned her Ed.D. in 2019 from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Nichols’ research interests include the use of best practices in simulated clinical activities.

Pharris teaches programming logic, database design, web development, emerging technologies, human-computer interaction design, and research methods for CIS in the BS and MS programs in the department of CIS.  She also teaches information systems for business courses for the School of Business programs.  She earned her BBA in CIS from ULM, MBA from the University of Memphis and her DBA in CIS from Liberty University.  Her research interests include social engineering, blockchain, social media productivity, time management, pedagogical methodology and continuous process improvement in higher educational environments.

Riehl is the director and associate professor of dance at Northwestern State University. She received her MFA in Ballet with an emphasis in teaching and choreography from the University of Utah. Riehl’s training began in the Royal Academy of Dance method. She danced abroad at Bush Davies School of the Arts in England. Upon returning to the U.S. she danced in New York City as well as North Carolina School of the Arts and the Houston Ballet Academy. Riehl’s teaching include ballet technique, pilates, dance pedagogy, dance anatomy and choreography. She enjoys mentoring and preparing her students for professional careers in the performing arts.

Zering is in her sixth year of teaching in the Department of New Media, Journalism and Communication Arts at Northwestern State. She teaches writing for media professionals, social media management, public speaking, interpersonal communication and visual design. Social media is her current focus, with emphasis on social media strategy, management and societal effects. Outside of NSU, Zering enjoys working with animal rescues and community development initiatives. 


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