2023-24 Faculty Accomplishments

(Listed in the order as received)

Summer 2023 

Dr. Janell Blunt discussed her research on the science of learning and memory and shares strategies for improving student performance in a Podcast Episode for ChangeStarts Here presented by FranklinCovey Education. Dr. Blunt’s episode, entitled “Learning that Lasts, ” was released May 23. 

Prof. Christa Welty-Salgado conducted a workshop titled: “It Turns Out Libraries Need Catalogers After All” for the annual Association of Christian Librarians Conference, held at Cedarville University. 

Dr. Cara Miller presented a paper at the 21st International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities held June 28-30 at Sorbonne University in Paris, France. The title of Dr. Miller’s presentation was “Developmental Writing and Student Success: Do Remedial Courses Work? 

Dr. Matthew Preston was awarded a Networking Grant for Christian Scholars through the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) to work with history faculty at Asbury University and LeTourneau University in constructing a database and interactive visualization of Christian missions. The “Missionary Database and Map Initiative” (MDMI) will oversee the construction of a dataset from a variety of Christian denominations covering Native American missions over a 50-year period (1787-1838). The MDMI will contribute to the growth of the quantitative study of Christian missions and also include additional grant applications to the CCCU and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for further work. 

The Department of Teacher Education reports that our teacher preparation program was recognized by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) for its rigorous preparation of future teachers in how to teach reading, earning an “A” grade in NCTQ’s new report, “Teacher Prep Review: Strengthening Elementary Reading Instruction.” AU’s program is among just 23% nationwide to earn an “A” from NCTQ for meeting standards set by literacy experts for coverage of the most effective methods of reading instruction—often called the “science of reading.” In addition, our program is one of only four universities in the State of Indiana to earn an “A.” See the full report, p. 92. 

Dr. Rebecca Chappell was a featured soloist with the Gaither Vocal Band on TBN’s “Bill & Gloria Gaither Precious Memories” program which aired Aug. 12.

The Department of Teacher Education reports that our Special Education program earned National Recognition from the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). Programs achieving this benchmark must meet rigorous specialty licensure area standards for the preparation of special education professionals. (8.8.23) 

The Department of Mathematics reports that our Mathematics Education program was recognized without condition by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), as noted by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). 

September 2023 

Dr. Vanessa Tijerina defended her dissertation entitled “Effect of Black- or White-Sounding Name and Impact of Intergroup Contact with Black Individuals on Auditor Judgments,” completing her Doctor of Business Administration with an Accounting Concentration from George Fox University. 

Dr. D. Maria Scott presented “Portuguese Americans: Assimilation and Diaspora Formation” at the 2023 LPAZ Forum in Portugal on Sept. 8. A video recording of the presentation may be viewed HERE (starting at 1:30). 

Prof. Christine Thacker completed her Master of Arts in Theatre & Dance, Teaching Artistry, from Wayne State University. 

Prof. Erich Yetter presented a Colloquium Sept. 26 on “The Acroamatic Process of Choreographing a Narrative Ballet” in which he explored the juxtaposition of kinetic and visual elements in the creative process of choreographing a full-length ballet from start to finish. He discussed the challenges arising in the creation of dramatic works that transcend time periods, blending past and present aesthetics. 

Dr. Rebecca Chappell was a featured soloist with the Anderson Symphony Orchestra on Sept. 23 at the Paramount Theatre. 

Prof. Jack Lugars feature film, Hellcat, which he wrote and directed, premiered Oct. 12 (Emagine Noblesville Theater) and Oct. 14 (Glendale Landmark Theater) as an official selection of the Heartland International Film Festival in Indianapolis. The film’s production featured AU faculty, alumni and students, including Ed Paul Fry, Julia Barnett, Benjy Gaither, Jon P. Williams, Hannah Gross, Roger Gibson, Emily Lugar, Jacey Crawford Williams, Kris Rinas, Jason Higs, and more. Visit the website and/or the facebook page for additional information. 

October 2023 

Dr. D. Maria Scott presented “Portuguese Americans: Assimilation and Diaspora Formation” at the 94th Annual Meeting of the Indiana Academy of the Social Sciences (IASS) held Oct. 6 at IU Kokomo.

Dr. Stefanie Leiter was selected to be a reciprocal judge on behalf of the Public Relations Society of Americas Hoosier Chapter for the 2024 PRSA Greater Fort Worth’s Worthy Awards. 

Dr. Adam Waller served as conductor for the Stewart Copeland (The Police) and the Deranged Orchestra concert. The production was held at the Palladium on Oct. 19 and featured a 28-piece orchestra, three vocalists and a rock trio, with Copeland on drums performing Police hits such as “Roxanne,” “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” and “Message in a Bottle.” Dr. Rebecca Chappell also performed with the group. 

Dr. Maria Scott presented a public webinar on Oct. 26 which was simultaneously transmitted to a class at the University of California, Fresno. The webinar, titled “Portuguese Americans in Census 2020 and more,” which can be accessed at facebook.com/PALCUS.org/videos/1432326344019107, has exceeded a thousand social media views. 

Dr. Celesta Bates & Dr. Lonnie Leeper presented “Be Extraordinary! Utilizing Employer and stakeholder Feedback in Redesigning the MBA Curriculum: Aligning Industry Needs with Experiential Education” at the Region 4 Conference of the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) held Oct. 27 in Indianapolis. 

Prof. Peter Elliott shared the results of his sabbatical project study, “Analysis of Error Patterns in First-Year Composition Essays,” during a Colloquium Oct. 31. He randomly selected 30 essays from first-year composition students over his 12 years of teaching and coded eight categories for common grammatical errors measured against Standard Classroom English. Clear patterns emerged, as well as some surprising findings regarding textspeak in student writing. 

November 2023 

Two AU faculty members presented at the Symposium on Games conference held Nov. 9 at Ball State University. Prof. Jon Craton presented “Exploiting Memory Corruption to Upgrade AI Opponents in a Classic RTS Game” and Dr. Jason Parks presented “i’ the clout, i’ the clout–hewgh! Word(2vec)play, Game Design Thinking, and the College English Classroom.” 

Dr. Connor Sutton was appointed to serve on the editorial board of the academic, peer reviewed Journal of Political Science Studies, the official journal of the Indiana Political Science Association (IPSN). Additionally, Dr. Sutton was selected to present a paper at the IPSN annual conference Nov. 11 titled, “How the Strong Lose Their Wars: the Limits of Material Capabilities in War Outcomes.” 

Dr. Maria Scott presented on the topic of Portuguese Americans Nov. 16-17 in Washington, DC, where she launched two volumes she co-edited on American Studies Over_Seas (Peter Lang International Academic Publishers 2022). The event, titled “American Studies Overseas: A Global Humanities Faculty Seminar,” is a partnership between Universidade de Lisboa and Georgetown University.

Dr. Amanda Boys contributed to the recently published “Varney’s Midwifery” 7th edition (Jones & Bartlett Learning 2024, ISBN 978-1284250565). 

Dr. Rebekah Baker presented “TESOL Lessons for People and the Planet” at the Indiana Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (INTESOL) annual conference held Nov. 18 in Indianapolis. Dr. Baker shared information and activities for use in various educational settings with students learning English, introducing participants to the Population Education curriculum and resources to support their work. 

Dr. Connor Sutton reports that 22 Model Diplomacy students from AU attended the American Model United Nations 2023 conference in Chicago Nov. 18-21, comprising two delegations of Germany and Burkina Faso. Mylan White, Jedidiah Martin, Christian Edwards, and Ethan Harp all earned Outstanding Delegate awards for their work in their respective committees. Overall, the AU delegation representing Germany won a conference-wide award for Outstanding Representation of Germany. Of note, 99 delegations from 62 colleges and universities were in attendance, and only 5 delegations won this award. AU students shared the stage with those from University of Arizona and University of Iowa, as well as College of Wooster and Aquinas College. Many very large state schools and prestigious liberal arts universities were in attendance. 

Dr. Jason Varner presented a Colloquium Nov. 28 on “Becoming a Self: Christianity, Liminality, and the Power of Exomologesis.” In a historical context, Dr. Varner explored an idea Michel Foucault introduced in a series of lectures “On the Government of the Living” in which Foucault argued that at the core of Christianity lies a dynamic tension that grew into what we now understand to be the modern Western Self. Dr. Varner ended with how a truly Christian approach to reality speaks to the moment of cultural transition within which we all now find ourselves. 

Dr. Rebekah Baker presented “Population Connection: Lessons for People and the Planet” at Ivy Tech Community College (Muncie) on November 21 and November 29. She conducted training for elementary preservice teachers on world population, global learning and sustainability, and provided Population Education curriculum and resources for future use by the participants. 

Dr. David Murphys recent essay, “The Moral Economy of Space: Carl Schmitt, the ‘Conservative Revolution’ and the Apologetics of Aggression” was selected to appear in a forthcoming collection of essays on Schmitt’s legacy of political theory, edited by Ulrike Jureit (Institut für Sozialforschung Hamburg) and Patricia Chianterra (Università degli Studi di Bari Aldo Moro) with Routledge Publishers

December 2023 

Dr. Leanne Ketcham presented a paper titled “A Chorus of Witnesses: Testimony in the Pulpit and the Pew” to the Performance Studies Workgroup of the Academy of Homiletics during their annual conference held in Atlanta, Georgia, on Dec. 1.

Dr. Lee Van Groningen passed the Financial Mathematics Exam for the Society of Actuaries on Dec. 2. This is the second of two exams that Lee has passed on the track to becoming an Associate of the Society of Actuaries, the first being the Probability Exam. 

Dr. Vanessa Tijerina took a sabbatical leave Semester I to prepare and sit for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensing exam. She successfully passed the fourth and final section on Dec. 4. 

Dr. Leanne Ketcham, in collaboration with Wartburg Seminary faculty Dr. Samantha Gilmore, received a $10,000 Small Project Grant from the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning for their project, “Integrating Body, Mind, and Spirit in the Classroom: Holistic Being for Holistic Teaching and Holistic Preaching.” 

January 2024 

Dr. Jaye Lee Rogers utilized a Sem. I sabbatical leave to visit museums and historical sites in the Midwest (principally Indiana, Illinois, and Michiagan) as well as museums and sites in Great Britain, in order to increase and update knowledge about historical preservation and presentation in support of the Public History major. 

Dr. Gilbert Lozano was on sabbatical leave Semester I, traveling to Israel as a Distinguished Scholar, with the option of research at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS) and/or continuing work on a monograph (an elaboration of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral began in 2020) and further study the [Modern] Hebrew language. 

Dr. Connor Sutton presented “How the Strong Lose Their Wars: The Limits of Material Capabilities in War Outcomes” at the 12th Annual Eurasian Peace Science Conference held Jan. 11-12 at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey. The goals of the conference were to “broaden cooperation and intellectual dialogue among Eurasian and global peace science scholars and to bring together cutting-edge research with rigorous methods on various aspects of peace science.” Dr. Sutton also presented his research at a Jan. 30 Colloquium on campus, sharing that military capability advantages are the strongest predictor of war outcomes; however, strong states may lose wars despite significant advantages. A set of propositions relative to military strategy, terrain, civil-military relations, and cost-tolerance were tested using statistical and comparative methods and a set of interstate, extrastate, and intrastate wars. 

February 2024 

Prof. Holly Sims was one of 15 street and graffiti artists whose work was featured in downtown Indianapolis during the NBA All-Star Weekend festivities Feb. 16-18 as part of the Arts & Culture Initiative. (AU news blog 1/24/24) 

Dr. Cara Miller released a textbook, “Writing for the Digital Media” in conjunction with PALNI (Private Academy Library Network of Indiana” made possible through a Textbook Creation Grant from the PALSave: PALNI Affordable Learning Program. Dr. Miller received the grant in 2022 and recently completed the two-year project. (AU news blog 2/14/24)

Dr. Traci Sicurella successfully defended her doctoral thesis, “Caregiver Education on Socialization of Persons with Dementia Using Robotic Pets: A Qualitative Case Study,” completing her PhD in nursing administration from National University 2/14/24. 

Prof. Jack Lugars recent film, “This Train (formerly “Hellcat”) was accepted into the Golden State Film Festival and screened at the Chinese Theatres on Hollywood Boulevard on Feb. 23. (movie trailer: YouTube) 

March 2024 

Dr. Stefanie Leiter led a keynote session at the Indiana School Public Relations Associations (INDSPRA) 2024 annual conference held March 7 in Indianapolis. The focus of Dr. Leiter’s workshop was the use of AI tools in Canva to help maximize the school’s resources when communicating with parents. 

Dr. Rebecca Chappell was featured on clarinet and saxophone with the Indianapolis Opera in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird at the Madam Walker Theater on March 16. The powerful, contemporary opera portrayed the tortured life of Charlie Parker, legendary jazz saxophonist and principal innovator of “BeBop” music. 

April 2024 

Dr. Maria Scott, co-executive editor in collaboration with Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, announces the publication of two additional books in the Interdisciplinary Studies in Diasporas series: 

(1) Bornman, Jonathan. American Murids: A Lived Muslim Practice of Nonviolence. Peter Lang, 2024. A translation of the manuscript into French is underway. Jonathan Bornman (Fuller Theological Seminary) 

is a consultant on Christiam-Muslim relations and is a filmmaker. 

(2) Simas, Richard. Searching for the Origins of Portuguese Waltzes. Peter Lang, 2024. 

Dr. Stephanie Moran was recently announced as District Governor Nominee Designate for the Rotary 6560 Leadership Team. Rotary District 6560 serves the Central Indiana region with more than 40 Rotary Clubs and approximately 1900 members.