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Del Doughty, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Liberal Arts

A Word from the Dean

Arguments for the liberal arts tend to be historical, philosophical or anecdotal.  In The Evidence the Liberal Arts Needs: Lives of Consequence, Inquiry, and Accomplishment (MIT Press, 2021), Richard Detwiler relies on data to make the case, and that approach turns up some novel insights and allows him to make some fresh claims.

At the heart of his study is a survey of over 1,000 college graduates from 10, 20 and 40 years ago. Detwiler asked participants granular questions about the content of their education (“Were you required to write research papers in most of your classes?” “What percentage of your coursework was outside of your major?”), the context of it (“Did most professors know your name?” “Did you talk to professors outside of class about academic or related questions?”), and its outcomes (“Other than positions at work, have you been elected or appointed to a top-level leadership position in a social, cultural, professional, or political committee, board or group?” “How often do you mentor less-experienced individuals?”).

The responses lead Detwiler to the conclusion that a liberal arts education is not “one thing,” that is to say, not a particular and limited number of disciplines or a particular kind of institution, but rather “many things,” or more to the point, a set of practices that may be found in many places, public or private, large or small. One such practice, for example, would be “breadth of study,” a curriculum design that allows undergraduates to develop skills and dispositions in a particular discipline while at the same time prompting them to explore others. For example, what that looks like in practice is, say, a history major who learns to conduct research and create a digital archive but who also takes classes in art, languages, biology and gender that enrich his or her primary major. We all know this model and believe it to be good, but here's “the turn” in Detwiler’s study. Why is it a good idea to strive for such breadth in an undergraduate education? Because according to the data, Detwiler argues, it leads to greater long-term life fulfillment as measured by satisfaction with career paths and family life.

Another pillar of liberal arts education is talking with professors and other students outside of class, a practice which seems to confer many lasting benefits. By Detwiler’s accounting, students who belong to a diverse learning community are 25% more likely to take on leadership roles as adults. So, while what happens in the classroom is, of course, important, students talking to professors outside of it during office hours, on field trips or at social events, turns out not to be simply a nice perk if you can get it but an essential feature. Given its significance, it’s amazing how little this aspect of college life is remarked upon. I think that’s sort of what marketing departments are trying to convey when they talk about faculty: student ratios. They’re trying to communicate that a liberal arts education operates on an intimate relational scale. Knowing who you’re learning from matters perhaps as much as the information you learn.

I like Detwiler’s approach and the insights it generates. It has led me to reconsider, in new ways, the question I’ve been asking since I arrived at USI: What would it look like if this were the best place to study the liberal arts in the Midwest? I recommend the book to anyone and would be happy to explore its upshot for us here in the College of Liberal Arts community. 

What's New at the College?

Left to Right: Dr. Julie Eyink, Assistant Professor of Psychology, and Zach Pilot, Assistant Professor of Psychology 

Right to left: Al Holen, Associate Professor of Ceramics, Dr. Mike Strezewski, Associate Professor of Anthropology, and Paul Weimer, Chair of Performing Arts Department

2024 Faculty Awards

The University of Southern Indiana’s College of Liberal Arts held its annual Faculty Awards Ceremony April 18. Honorees and their awards are listed below. 

Excellence in Teaching Award – Dr. Julie Eyink, Assistant Professor of Psychology, and Zach Pilot, Assistant Professor of Psychology 

Dr. Julie Eyink and Zach Pilot teach many students in their program’s introductory course, PSY 201. Last Fall, for example, they each had more than 130 students in their respective sections. With the help of a team of supplemental instructors and teaching assistants, Eyink and Pilot maintain a high-level program. Data from the National Student Clearinghouse indicates that over the past decade, USI has graduated just over 1,000 psychology majors. Of those graduates, 475 have enrolled in graduate school, a great indicator of student success and that students are building off a solid foundation to attain great heights.

Excellence in Scholarship & Creativity Award – Al Holen, Associate Professor of Ceramics 

Al Holen’s work is well known on campus through events such as the annual Spring Ceramics Sale, the Empty Bowls for Veterans sale in the Fall and various exhibitions. Beyond campus, Holen regularly shows her work at juried and invited exhibitions across the nation. Last year, she exhibited at the prestigious AKAR Gallery in Iowa City, Iowa; the Companion Gallery in Humboldt, Tennessee; and the Cannon River Clay Tour in Northfield, Minnesota—all invitational shows. Holen is also a scholar in her field, regularly presenting at conferences and publishing on various aspects of her craft. 

Excellence in Service Award – Paul Weimer, Chair of Performing Arts Department 

Paul Weimer is the Chair of the Philip H. Hagemann Performing Arts Department, an operation with many moving parts. In the past year, his planning and design skills have been instrumental in the success of two very large performances—the production of USI’s first opera, Ruth, by Phillip Hagemamn, which required the coordination of the Evansville Philharmonic and the Pegasus Opera Company; and the revival of the Society for the Arts & Humanities annual gala, held at the Evansville Museum just a few weeks after the opera. Weimer knows how to put on a show, and this year he went above and beyond his department’s usual output. He also lends his talents to the EVSC drama program on occasion for its summer productions.  

Distinguished Faculty Award – Dr. Mike Strezewski, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Endeavor Awards Program 

As a scholar, Dr. Mike Strezewski’s output of writing is prolific, including articles and technical reports. His first book detailing Christoph Weber’s pottery was published in 2023 and will be followed later this year by his second, a volume on the Mann Site. Because of his work on New Harmony, Stezewski has built a regional following, making him an ambassador for USI and the College of Liberal Arts. 

CLA Summer Academy! 

What's better than a summer camp? 
A fun and educational summer academy that introduces your high schooler to the liberal arts! 

Registration is $150 for the week and includes activities, materials, food, drink and snacks. Children of USI faculty and staff will receive a $25 discount on registration, and full scholarships are available to all participants based upon need. 

Classes offered:  

  • Woodworking 
  • Graphic Design  
  • Leadership Development 
  • Creative Writing 
  • Ancient Codes and Riddles 
  • Ceramics 
  • Painting 
  • Hispanic Cuisine 
  • Printmaking 
  • Psychology 

Learn more and register!

NEW Online Master of Social Work Program

The University of Southern Indiana’s Social Work Department is offering a fully online Master of Social Work program!

  • With a 12:1 ratio you’ll never feel like you’re lost in the crowd with small class sizes and one-on-one time with the instructor.
  • Pick between all online courses or courses with a meeting time each week. Whatever fits best in your schedule!
  • Created with working individuals in mind. Get your master’s degree on your timeline

Interested? Learn more about the Master of Social Work.

Alum Spotlight:

Courtney Johnson

Class of 2015

BPS in Individual Studies

Founder of Young & Established in Evansville, Indiana

  1. What major/minor did you pick and why?Bachelor of Professional Studies' I loved that it gave me the ability to pick the courses that would benefit me and my career after college.  
  2. How did USI prepare you for your career? USI helped me network and build good relationships. 
  3. What is the favorite part of your job? I’m blessed to be able to serve and help others every day! 
  4. What advice would you give to current or prospective USI students? Get involved on and off campus. You should network and connect with people because you never know what those relationships could turn into. 

Featured Story:

USI Theatre students take on the Big Apple, engage with alum 

Fourteen University of Southern Indiana Theatre students recently traveled to New York City to sample a few of its cultural offerings, accompanied by Paul Weimer, Associate Professor of Theatre and Chair of the Performing Arts Department. The trip was made possible by the generous support of the USI Foundation.  

The group traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, by bus to catch a direct flight to New York City.  After a long day of travel, the group went to see a new musical, Water For Elephants, at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway. Before the show, they were met by AJ Jones '16, who is a Costume Design Assistant for the production. He spoke to the students over dinner about his work on the show and his life working in theatre in New York City. His behind-the-scenes stories of the production, which he also worked on last year in Atlanta, added to the enjoyment of the show. 

The following day, students were free to explore New York City. Several went to the Metropolitan Museum, while others took in a matinee performance of Moulin Rouge or Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Three students, Via Wagner, Morgan Ray and Morgan Stauter, visited the recently opened Museum of Broadway, and of course, everyone had to experience Times Square. 

That evening, the entire group gathered to attend Sleep No More, a unique, interactive Off-Broadway show loosely based on Shakespeare's MacBeth. Masked audience members roam through six floors of a huge warehouse space, filled with intriguing installations of objects and live performers who enact wordless scenes and stylized combat and dance moves.  

After barely 48 hours in the city, it was time to fly back home. The trip was a great learning experience for the students and the Performing Arts Department hopes to make trips like these, to New York or Chicago, an annual event.  

For more information about our Performing Arts Department, contact Weimer at or visit the College of Liberal Arts’ website 

Student Spotlight:

Omar Elhanafy

Class of 2024

BA in French Studies and German Studies
BS in Biochemistry and Biophysics

Where are you from? 

I was born in Egypt, but lived most of my life in Bloomington, Indiana, where I graduated from Bloomington High School North. 

What brought you to USI? 

It was my mom who told me about USI. She told me about the University’s B/MD program. I applied and I thankfully got accepted, which ultimately encouraged me to go to USI instead of Indiana University or Purdue. 

What major/minor did you pick and why?   

I major in four subjects—biochemistry, biophysics, French and German. I am thankful that the high school I went to offered a plethora of college credit that made this ambition possible in four years. I like all these subjects too much to give up any one of them for the other. Biochemistry grants me a better understanding of what humans are, and what happens inside of them. Biophysics similarly, grants me that understanding, but also teaches me how the relationship between us and the universe is, such as how powerful randomness is within our own physiology. French and German are languages I took in high school, and I felt a need to major in them, so I don’t lose my language abilities. What drew me further into the language majors is that studying language is also a realm or a window into cultures, identities and ideologies, and ultimately grants a greater understanding of who human beings are. 

What is the importance of learning a language? 

I alluded to this a bit earlier, but I often think about a quote from the famous philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein where he said, “The limit of my language is the limits of my world.” Through learning languages at USI, not only did I gain a better understanding of the languages and cultures I studied, but it also allowed me to understand myself better, as well as the English language. Studying languages also opens doors for many fascinating opportunities. Some of my best memories in my undergraduate career will be going to Germany, once for study abroad, and once as a trip with President Rochon. There is an awe to speaking to the locals in their own language, and I learned so much about the German way of life and thinking through talking to the students in Germany. 

Languages have also helped improve my presentational skills tremendously. I have developed this ability to be more fluid, improv, almost a “stream of consciousness” in the way that I present, giving this effect that I am talking with the audience, rather than at the audience. This is all thanks to the numerous presentations I have had to do in my language classes, as well as having the opportunity to teach children German, and presenting as a study abroad ambassador about my experiences abroad. 

Lastly, as a current aside, through another online program, I am learning the Arabic language, specifically the modern standard and classical Arabic. As a young immigrant, unfortunately, I never learned Arabic at an academic level, and the Arabic I knew was restricted solely to the Egyptian dialect. This year I decided to learn Arabic as it would be a way to rediscover my Arabic identity and to be able to appreciate the texts and media that my parents and grandparents were exposed to. 

What clubs or extracurricular activities did you participate in? 

I restarted the Muslim Student Association during my freshman year. Later in my sophomore year, I became a Resident Assistant and an Academic Skills tutor. In my junior year, I helped the Honors program with events as the Honors Junior representative, and I exposed myself to the medical field by working as an EMT, 911 for American Medical Response as well as volunteering for the Perry Township Fire department. Throughout the years, I have done some light volunteer work for Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity. This year, I presented my study abroad experiences as a study abroad ambassador, to encourage others to embark on a life-changing journey like I did. I have also gained experience as an EMT in an industrial setting by working at SABIC in Mount Vernon and helped public safety as a student EMT. 

What are your plans after graduation? 

Thankfully, I have been accepted to IU Medical School-Evansville campus. For the summer, I plan to revisit my home country of Egypt and get a head start on medical school by doing some research for the university. 

What advice would you give to current or prospective USI students? 

I encourage students to be ambitious and not limit themselves or underestimate their abilities. I think human beings are exceptional at managing time, and finding solutions to problems when they are faced with it. I am by no means a precocious human being. There was a time in elementary and middle school when I was rejected by accelerated language programs. It was through effort, diligence and perseverance rather than my innate intelligence that I was able to achieve what I did at this University. I am a strong believer of the phrase “What you get out of it is what you put into it.”  

Obviously in pursuit of strong ambitions, difficulties will arise, there is a strong risk of burn out, and motivation can sometimes be minimal. That is why I think it is vital to remain steadfast. Find clubs, volunteer work or even jobs that you can enjoy that take you out of studying for school and freshen you in a positive way. I really enjoyed making events such as the Honors Uno tournament and seeing the students smile as they participated in it. I encourage people to make excellent friends, as friends who exude their dedication and motivation will inherently influence you to be dedicated and motivated as well. Lastly, and this is much easier said than done, try to be optimistic and find the positives, even in the smallest of victories. I find that this is a great way to ultimately build momentum, gain confidence and belief, and remain persistent in success.

Featured Events:

True Crime Summer Book Club

This Summer!

The University of Southern Indiana’s Criminal Justice Department will facilitate their first true crime book club this summer. This book club is open to USI students, faculty and staff.

Participants will read the book over the summer and discuss during the Fall 2024 Semester (dates and times for these discussions will be released soon). 

“Summer is the perfect time to relax with a good book,” says Dr. Melissa Stacer, Director of Master of Arts in Criminal Justice. “Many of us are interested in true crime, so American Predator is the perfect selection for our first book club. It’s no beach read, but it’s sure to be horrifyingly fascinating!” 

Learn more and sign up

Black Art Workshop and Exhibition

Workshop: Friday, June 28 – Sunday, June 30

Exhibition: Monday, June 24 – Friday, August 30

The University of Southern Indiana Art and Design Department will partner with the Evansville African American Museum to present the Black Art Workshop and Exhibition in the McCutchan Art Center/Pace Galleries, located in the lower level of the Liberal Arts Center. 

“The workshop aims to offer exclusive space for the representation and mentoring of Black artists. To specify, one must be a regional or local Black artist to participate at the Evansville African American Museum as an artist or artist instructor,” said Tory Schendel-Vyvoda, Curator of the Evansville African American Museum. “Since no venue in Evansville is exclusively dedicated to representing Black artists, this initiative fulfills a community need while adhering to the mission of the Evansville African American Museum.” 

Learn more and sign up

College of Liberal Arts Achievements

A documentary produced by Dr. Leigh Anne Howard, Chair of Communication and Media Department, and Dr. Dave Black, Associate Professor Emeritus of Radio and Television, Art for Science's Sake: Stalking John James Audubon, has been accepted by the National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA). NETA is a national educational distributor for public education broadcasting, making out documentary accessible nationally through so local/regional PBS stations nationwide.

Howard will also co-lead a working group on performance pedagogy and public policy at Performance Studies International (PSI) in London this summer. PSI is the most prestigious performance studies association globally. 

Dr. Amie McKibban, Chair of the Psychology Department; Dr.  Zach Pilot, Assistant Professor of Psychology; Dr. Jay Dickerson, Director of USI’s Master of Social Work Program; and Dr. Del Doughty, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana, to be highlighted in the launch of Project Playbook to improve access and reduce barriers to mental health care.  

Also, 13 students presented original research at the Mid-America Undergraduate Research Conference at Ball State. 

Dr. Alexandra Natoli, Assistant Professor of French, was selected to attend a writing retreat in the Virginia countryside. Organized by the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), this opportunity will support work on her writing project, 'Excuse my Expression': Remembering the Auschwitz-Birkenau Latrines in Oral Testimony. Natoli’s participation in the writing retreat will come on the heels of her work in the USHMM’s Virtual Writing Group, a competitive opportunity running from February-June 2024. 

  • In June, Natoli and Dr. Todd Schroer, Chair of Criminal Justice, will take part in a leadership seminar in Atlanta, Georgia, organized by the Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights (TOLI). As graduates of previous TOLI programming, Natoli and Schroer will travel to Atlanta to begin preparing a TOLI Holocaust pedagogy seminar that they will host on USI’s campus along with Dr. Oana Popescu-Sandu, Chair of English Department. Tentatively titled Cultural Legacies of the Holocaust, the USI seminar will bring together high school and university educators across the region interested in incorporating Holocaust pedagogy and remembrance topics into their classrooms.

Dr. Greg Blair’s, Assistant Professor of Art and Design, article, Street Art and the Disruption of the Expected, will be published in the next issue of the Visual Inquiry journal (13:1). 

Robert Millard-Mendez, Professor of Art, won an Honorable Mention Award at the nationally juried Garbled Guise exhibition at the Indianapolis Art Center.

Dr. Kristin LaFollette’s, Assistant Professor of English, article, Rehumanizing Rhetoric, Recuperative Ethos, and Human Specimens: A Case Study of the Indiana Medical History Museum, was recently accepted for publication at Rhetoric of Health and Medicine. This project is the result of a research trip she took last summer with support from a CLAFDA, and she presented this project at the beginning of April at the 2024 Conference on College Composition and Communication in Spokane, Washington. 

LaFollette was also recently asked to serve as chair of the Humanities Committee at The Blood Project (TBP), an educational platform out of Harvard Medical School that works toward bridging the gap between evidence-based medicine and patient care. 

Rosalie Moffett, Assistant Professor of English, had four poems published in the April issue of POETRY Magazine

Dr. Todd Schroer, Chair of Criminal Justice, presented Genocide and the Criminal Justice System: National Socialist Policing, Courts, Corrections, and Theory during the Holocaust at the Annual Midwest Sociological Society’s meeting in April. Schoroer has also been accepted for two summer fellowships: 

  • Journey to Justice, an eight-day tour this June through Southern Cities to study the history of the Civil Rights Movement. Stops include Montgomery, Birmingham, Selma, Memphis and Louisville. 
  • In June, Schroder and other USI faculty members will attend a leadership seminar in Atlanta, Georgia, organized by the Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights (TOLI)

Dr. Ngoc Nguyen, Assistant Professor of Social Work, was granted an Early Career Faculty award for her research proposal titled, Factors Contributing to Learning Motivation among Social Work Students in Vietnam. Nguyen also had two oral presentations and one published article as follows: 

  • Nguyen, N.N., Paulson, J., & Opatrny Pease, M. (2024) Examining the relationships between religiosity and E-cigarette smoking and alcohol drinking among college students in Vietnam, Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work: Social Thought, DOI: 10.1080/15426432.2024.2331538 
  • Ngoc N. Nguyen & John Paulson. (2024, April 17th). The Impact of Religiosity and Violence Prevention Programs on Violence amongst Adolescents in the U.S. ORAL presentation for the 28th Annual Research, Evidence-Based Practice, and Performance Improvement in Healthcare Conference at the University of Southern Indiana. 
  • Ngoc N. Nguyen. (2024, Mar 1st). A Comparative Analysis of Social Work in Vietnam and the United States. Oral session at the Social Work Conference, University of Southern Indiana, Evansville, Indiana. 

Dr. Kristalyn Shefveland, Assistant Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Associate Professor of History, recently had her book, Selling Vero Beach: Settler myths in the land of the aís and Seminole, published. 

Shefveland, K. M. (2024). Selling Vero Beach: Settler myths in the land of the aís and Seminole.

See more achievements from the College of Liberal Arts

Upcoming Events


May 3: End of Spring Semester 

May 13: First Summer classes begin 

May 27: Memorial Day (No classes, University closed) 


June 3 - June 7: CLA Summer Academy 

June 14: First Summer classes end 

June 19: Juneteenth (No classes, University closed) 

June 24 - August 30: Black Art Exhibition 

June 28 - June 30: Black Art Workshop Weekend 


July 4: Independence Day (No classes, University closed)