Mississippi University for Women welcomes 16 new faculty members for the 2020-21 school year.
Elizabeth Hawkins, assistant professor of theater
Hawkins comes to Columbus, from Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas, to join the staff as an assistant professor of theater. She earned her undergraduate degree at Texas A&M University in 2009, and went on to do professional actor training with the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts in 2016. Hawkins earned her master’s degree from the University of South Carolina in 2019. This is Hawkins’ first year as a full-time professor. She worked as a theatre teacher artist for kindergarten through 12th-grade students for four years.
Hawkins will teach theater appreciation, playscript analysis and beginning acting at The W.
“I chose The W because of the small class sizes and the focus on the students’ learning experience,” Hawkins said.
Dr. Heather Bliss, assistant professor of psychology
Bliss’ hometown of Reading, Kansas, isn’t on the map anymore. Located in Lyon County, Reading, which had a population of 231, according to the 2010 census, is an hour southwest of Topeka.
Bliss earned her bachelor’s degree in behavioral neuroscience from the University of Kansas and her master’s degree in psychology and her doctorate in experimental psychology from the University of Mississippi
Bliss has been teaching since 2017. In 2020, she received the Graduate Instructor Teaching Award from the Center of Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Ole Miss. She will teach general psychology, cognitive psychology, sensation and perception, physiological psychology, behavioral neuroscience, research methods, and history & systems at The W.
“The W was my first choice for an assistant professor position because of the university’s reputation of great professors and dedication to teaching,” Bliss said. “I know students choose to come to The W for that experience. As a non-traditional and first generation student, I know how difficult college can be. This is the best place for me to be to make a real difference in the world and to give back to others who share a similar background.”
Dr. Andrew Nguyen, assistant professor of psychology
Nguyen, who is from Toronto, Canada, earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Ottawa in 2013. He earned his master’s degree (2016) and his doctorate (2020) from Queen's University in Kingston, Canada
Nguyen has been teaching for three years. He will teach psychology, statistics and research methods at The W.
“I chose The W because of its proximity to home, its collegial environment, its support for academic freedom and its unfailing dedication to its students,” Nguyen said.
Dr. Ashley Sandifer, audiologist
Sandifer, who is from Dacula, Georgia, comes to The W after studying at the University of South Alabama, the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of West Georgia. She will work as the clinical audiologist in the Speech and Hearing Center. This semester, she is teaching the intro to audiology course.
Sandifer earned her clinical doctorate in audiology (Au.D.) in May 2020. She also has a master’s degree in deaf education with a focus on early oral intervention (2015) and a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology (2014).
Sandifer previously taught pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade children as an itinerant teacher for the deaf and hard of hearing.
“The W is a small, close-knit community of educators that supports one another in their careers and genuinely cares about the development of their students,” Sandifer said.
Dr. Jill Drouillard, assistant professor of philosophy
Drouillard lived in France for seven years, so she is a “huge” proponent of studying abroad.
Drouillard, who was born in Baltimore, Maryland, pursued a double major of philosophy and women’s studies at Goucher College, which is the only college in the United States that requires its students to study abroad. Her undergraduate education allowed her to study and work overseas. She earned a master’s degree in gender studies from the London School of Economics & Political Science in 2008, a master’s degree in practical philosophy with a concentration in medical/political ethics from Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée in 2011 and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Université Paris-Sorbonne IV in 2018).
Drouillard has been teaching for six years. She will teach introduction to philosophy, ethics and medical ethics at The W.
“I chose The W for several reasons, including its emphasis on teaching excellence, women’s leadership and the liberal arts,” Drouillard said.
Victoria Jones, archives and special collections librarian
Jones, who is from Ocala, Florida, joins the faculty after working as a library associate at The W’s Fant Memorial Library in 2019. She will serve as the Archives and Special Collections librarian
Jones completed her undergraduate degree at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and her master’s degree in history at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. She will earn her master’s degree in library and information science with an archives and special collections certificate from the University of Southern Mississippi in December 2020.
“I was excited to work in a library that was dedicated to innovation and had a community-focused, student-centered approach,” Jones said.
Dr. Davida Crossley, assistant professor of microbiology
Brookhaven native Crossley joins the staff at The W after working at Alcorn State University and Louisiana State University at Alexandria.
Crossley earned her bachelor’s degree in biology (2002) and her doctore in molecular biology (2013) from the University of Southern Mississippi. She will teach senior seminar, general microbiology (non-majors), general genetics and introduction to biology.
Crossley also will engage students in the future in conducting research on the dimorphic fungi Histoplasma capsulatum.
“I love home and was amazed at the growth of the university and wanted to be a part of it,” Crossley said.
Dr. Candy Grant, assistant professor of public health
Grant, who is from Caledonia, is in her first semester as an assistant professor after earning her doctorate in agricultural and extension education from Mississippi State earlier this year. She earned her master’s degree in health education (2012) and her bachelor’s degree (teacher certification/Spanish minor, 2006) from The W.
Grant worked eight years as a high school teacher and for three more years as an instructor. She will teach professional foundations of public health education (HED 250), foundations of health education (HED 501) and health program planning and implementation (HED 512) at The W.
“The W is home to me,” Grant said. “I would not want to be anywhere else.”
Dr. Allene Nichols, assistant professor of English-teacher education
Nichols brings 19 years of teaching experience to The W.
Originally from central Illinois, Nichols lived in Dallas for many years before moving to Columbus. She earned her bachelor’s degree in drama from Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas, in 1984 and her master’s degree (2002) and her doctorate in humanities (2015) from the University of Texas at Dallas in Richardson, Texas. She will teach English/teacher’s education at The W.
“I like the friendly campus atmosphere and the opportunity to work closely with the students in my classes,” Nichols said. “I was also excited by the chance to work with future teachers and to be part of the Languages, Literature, and Philosophy department, which has a reputation for being collegial.”
Dr. Shahara’Tova Dente, assistant professor of English & Women’s Studies
Dente is excited about the opportunity for professional growth and development at The W.
Dente, who is from Crystal Springs, has been teaching for 10 years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Tougaloo College in 2006, her master’s degree in English from the University of Mississippi in 2009 and her doctorate in English from the University of Alabama in 2015.
Dente will teach English composition I, African-American literature and black feminist thought at The W. She also will serve as the graduate director of Women’s Leadership.
“From my first conversations with the faculty, I knew my research and teaching interests would be supported and that this community was a safe space,” Dente said. “After visiting, The W felt less like a job and more like home.”
Christy Dickerson, instructor of accounting
Dickerson’s passion for accounting fuels her work at The W.
Dickerson, who is from Starkville, earned her bachelor’s degree (business administration) and her master’s degree (professional accounting) from the University of Southern Mississippi. Dickerson has been an adjunct instructor at various academic institutions since 2006. She started at The W as an adjunct instructor of accounting in 2018.
“I could not pass up the opportunity to share with students my passion for accounting and how valuable the knowledge of accounting is to them both personally and professionally,” said Dickerson, who accepted a full-time position prior to this semester. “Likewise, there is something special about the group of individuals in the College of Business and Professional Studies at The W. I look forward to working with each of them as we teach and mentor The W’s College of business students.”
Dr. Monica Smith, instructor of nursing BSN
Smith is eager to add to the history of The W’s Long Blue Line in her family.
Smith, who grew up in Decatur and lives in Mantee, graduated from The W’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in 2013. Her mother graduated from The W in 1984. Her father’s sister, LuAnn Vincent, also attended The W. Smith will teach nursing courses in the BSN program at The W.
Smith earned an associate’s degree from East Central Community College in 2013. After graduating from The W, Smith earned her master’s degree from the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in 2018. She is in her second year of nursing education and in her eighth year in the nursing profession.
“I’m thankful to be back at the place that poured so much into me,” Smith said. “I look forward to investing in the BSN students that same impactful way.”
Robyn Talley, instructor of nursing-RN-BSN
Robyn Talley’s transition from hospital based clinical education will continue this semester at The W.
Talley, who is from Saltillo, became an instructor of nursing at The W in October 2019. She worked in hospital based clinical education for eight years.
Talley earned an associate degree from Northeast Mississippi C.C. in Booneville in 2009 and her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from the University of North Alabama in Florence, Alabama, in 2011 and 2017. She is pursuing a Doctrine in Nursing Practice from Aspen University in Denver, Colorado. She expects to graduate in 2022.
Talley will teach a variety of courses in The W’s RN to BSN curriculum.
“I was inspired by the history and transgressions made within and throughout this university,” Talley said. “I remember the first archives I read. ‘Now that is something to be proud of,’ said the female born and raised in Mississippi attending college. I knew I wanted to be a part of The W. Thus I began preparing. I obtained a degree that would enable me to teach in the academic world. I gained experience while I prayed and waited for the opportunity of a teaching position to present itself.”
Dr. Lindsay Kemp, instructor of graduate nursing
Kemp is immersed in the nursing profession.
In addition to pursuing a Doctor of Nursing practice at The W, Kemp will work part time as a graduate instructor teaching pediatric and respiratory content to students in the Master of Science in Nursing program.
Kemp, who lives in Millport, Alabama, earned her associate’s degree in nursing at Bevill State C.C. in 2009, her BSN from The W in 2011 and her MSN from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2013. She hopes to complete her Doctor of Nursing practice degree in 2022.
Kemp served as a pediatric clinical preceptor to nurse practitioner students at The W for the past three years.
“While practicing as a nurse practitioner, I value the importance of developing a future generation of advanced practice nurses,” Kemp said. “I take pride in my profession and given The W’s reputable history, it is without question I pursued a career in a nationally ranked program. It is a privilege to instruct among elite faculty and advanced practice nurses that like myself, devote their career to developing a future generation of excellence in health care and the profession.”
Kim Shaw, assistant professor of kinesiology-exercise science
Shaw has been teaching at the collegiate level for 16 years. She joins the faculty at The W as an assistant professor of kinesiology in the Department of Health and Kinesiology.
Shaw, who is from Selma, Alabama, earned a bachelor’s degree in athletic training from the University of South Alabama in 2003, a master’s degree in exercise physiology from Auburn University in 2005 and a doctorate in exercise physiology from the University of Alabama in 2013.
This semester, Shaw will teach anatomical kinesiology, graded exercise testing, care and prevention of athletic injuries and introduction to kinesiology.
“I chose The W because love how dedicated the faculty and staff is to the students, the size of the university and the proximity to my and my husband’s families,” Shaw said.
Tyler Muddle, assistant professor of kinesiology-exercise science
Muddle joins the The W’s faculty as an assistant professor of kinesiology-exercise science. He has been teaching at the collegiate level for the past five years.
Muddle, who is from Cocoa Beach, Florida, earned his bachelor’s degree in sport and exercise science from the University of Central Florida in 2014 and his master’s degree in applied exercise physiology from UCF in 2016. He is pursuing
his doctorate in health and human performance from Oklahoma State University.
Muddle will teach technology in exercise and sport science (KIN 285), Ppracticum in health and kinesiology (KIN 316), physiology of exercise (KIN 361) and physiology of exercise laboratory (KIN 361L) at The W.
“I chose The W because of the amazing faculty, the outstanding commitment to student success and the beautiful city of Columbus,” Muddle said.