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

A Word from the Dean

Season’s greetings to everyone in the USI community. I hope that the holiday season will find you rested, merry and well-positioned to take in all of the tidings of comfort and joy headed your way. As I walk around campus this week—finals week—I hear expressions of, well, not joy exactly, but relief. People will say things like, “I’m so glad things are winding down.” And I think, “Yeah, me too.” Because things are, in fact, winding down. You can see it happening with each passing day of finals week: Fewer cars in the parking lot, fewer students on The Quad, fewer meetings on the calendar. But at the same time, it doesn’t feel like things are “winding down” because they are, rather, intensifying. Sure, there are fewer students on campus at any given hour, but those who are here are quiet and focused as they prep for that last exam. Faculty occasionally emerge from their offices, empty coffee cups in hand, to refill and refuel for more grading. So much grading. And while there may be fewer meetings, there are more events, more festivities, more gatherings and parties. After attending a few of these each year, I cannot help but think of Samuel Johnson’s saying that there is “nothing more hopeless than a scheme of merriment.” 

For me, this time of year means that it’s tenure-and-promotion season, in other words, the time of year when it’s my turn to review applications for tenure and promotion. It can be daunting. It begins just after Thanksgiving, when I will receive, on average, about a dozen multi-volume portfolios from faculty who are hoping to advance to either the associate or full professor level. My deadline for reviewing these portfolios, taking notes and making recommendations is usually early January, meaning soon after we return from Winter Recess. So, chalk another one up to the “intensifying” side of the holiday ledger. Apart from the timeline I need to maintain, the task is actually one of the better ones on my list of to-dos. When I read those tenure applications, no matter what kind of pressure I’m under, I always find myself slowing down to appreciate—and truly savor—the abundance and variety of talents that exist in a college faculty. You get to see professors at their best in these documents. Without getting into specifics, when you read these portfolios, which typically cover a six-year period in a person’s professional life, you get to see a person not just documenting their growth, but reflecting on it, charting their ambitions, learning from feedback, experiencing breakthroughs, discovering new things either within their respective field of study or about themselves or maybe both. In reviewing their scholarship or creative work, you often get to see a person thinking, executing the steps of a methodology that, to me, is every bit as exciting as watching a gymnast nail every part of a routine and stick the landing. It’s cool. I’ve always liked this phrase from Irenaeus: “The glory of God is the human being fully alive.” (Hamlet’s “What a piece of work is man” soliloquy comes in a close second.) I’m grateful anytime I get a glimpse of a person in the act of being fully alive, and I never fail to think of that line during this time of year. I’m thankful to work at a place that both draws in—and develops—people striving to live their lives to the fullest. 

What's New at the College?

The Renaissance Challenge

We challenge ALL USI students to think about being a person of many talents and expert knowledge in all walks of life. There's still plenty of time to complete the challenge before the end of the year! 

Goals for the Challenge: 

  • Lifelong learning 
  • Acquiring practical skills 
  • Learning about different cultures 
  • Explore your community 
  • Global awareness 
  • Staying informed 

Check out the Spring 2024 Challenges!

Featured Story:

Matt Koewler ‘15: Finding Your Creative Way

When you meet Matt Koewler ‘15, you will know a couple things right off the bat: he loves his two white kitties, and he has an amazing creative and technical mind. He graduated from USI in December 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design with a minor in entrepreneurship. “The entrepreneurship minor was a no-brainer for me because it was three classes taken in succession and uses class credits from your major.” 

Koewler started his journey at USI as a computer science major because he was very interested in 3D modeling and rendering software programs such as Blender and Sketchup in high school, but after encountering some struggles with the coursework, he went undecided for a semester to find what he truly wanted to do. After learning a few of his relatives were graphic designers at Berry Plastics, he landed in graphic design. “It felt like coming home when I was able to decide on my major and learn about perspective, composition, and, for the first time, learn about digital art.” 

Although Koewler had found his passion, this didn’t come without challenges. “I really struggled with traditional 2D art techniques such as vertical drawing, mixing paint colors and drawing from real perspective. I also struggled with getting satisfaction from my work. There comes a certain point where your changes become smaller and smaller, your excitement about what came out of you feels stronger and you feel a sense of confidence about what’s in front of you. To this day, that’s what I chase, even in my current profession.” 

Koewler struggled with making friends on a commuter campus, but once he started to get involved on campus in Art Club, the radio station and religious gatherings, he gained confidence and branched out socially. “When I started out at USI, I’ll admit that there were a lot of times where I felt lonely and even isolated. Being a commuter student living at home with your parents, it’s much slower to make new friends and to socially interact with people outside of class,” he says. “These activities helped me find some confidence in meeting new people, coming out of my shell and making friends.” 

While at USI, Koewler took advantage of every opportunity he could to deepen his understanding of design and the history behind it. “I did go on several international trips with Dr. Shannon Pritchard at the helm, to Italy, the UK, France and the Netherlands.” 

His study abroad experience shaped who he is today and opened his eyes to other cultures and designs from around the world. 

Koewler was (and still is) very interested in 3D printing especially when it was really starting to take off. “In April 2015, I received an Endeavor grant through USI to explore 3D printing and design firsthand with access to new materials and software I wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise,” he says. “A major mentor for me at USI was Joan DeJong. While when I started in the Art Department there weren’t ‘3D rendering’ classes, so she encouraged me to explore 3D printing. Ultimately, I was able to participate in one of the first ever 3D printing classes the Art Department offered to students on campus outside of dedicated high-level engineering classes.”   

Koewler also worked as a paid intern for the Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville (GAGE). He was a graphic designer and tool guru. “I helped develop a makerspace and assisted with the acquisition and assembly of equipment (CNC’s, 3D printers, 15 custom built CAD computers and even a laser cutter) and helped incentivize people to use the space and learn the tools.”   

This extensive 3D rendering and printing experience shaped his future. When Koewler graduated, he was looking to start his career, and through networking, he got his big break. “When I was an intern, someone had mentioned my 3D experience to Hafer through a networking event I’d helped facilitate called Tech on Tap." Hafer needed someone who could work in 3D, 2D, graphic design, assist their marketing department, and render architectural visualizations to present to clients, the community and to the greater public. "I had no idea such a job existed and I’m happy to say even after seven years here, it was the right fit for me.”  

Outside of work, Koewler loves to work with his hands and design some pretty intriguing, challenging and groovy projects. “Most recently, I’ve been designing and building custom lava lamps using cast concrete parts, mid-century forms and refill kits for commercial lamps. After restoring a vintage space-age lava lamp from the Soviet Union with my own DIY wax and fluid, I realized I could easily make an entire lamp from scratch using 3D printing and materials like concrete. One of my designs took grand prize in the Autodesk Instructables Stone Concrete Cement Contest in 2022.” 

Koewler has also built his own furniture, crafted stained glass for his home, restored and built watches and made a branded giant Jinga game for his backyard get togethers called Terrible Tower. He attributes his tinkering in so many mediums to his “starving artist” tendencies, always searching for the next cool project or challenging tool to learn.  

“‘Starving’ can have a positive interpretation too. For example, someone could be starving for inspiration, the next project or cool build idea, or their next design. I attribute it to a high standard for satisfaction or insatiability one’s own work. No one expects you to be a god of boundless inspirational genius, an Einstein of innovation, or a bottomless font of ideas. We all build on the shoulders of giants who built on the shoulders of giants before them.”  

So, go forth and find your inspiration, your next project, big move in life or whatever you're starving for.

Alum Spotlight:

Jesmelia Williams

Class of 2020

Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts and Bachelor of Arts in French Studies

“USI provided a safe environment, useful facilities and professional experience in the areas I needed it most. As a professional actor and educator, a great majority of what I learned about myself as a performer, industry standards, and application of creativity came from the great training I received from Eric Altheide, Elliot Wasserman, Heather Beale and many of the other instructors in USI Theatre. On top of that, the accessibility of studying abroad and the support of my instructors, Dr. Jessica Jensen and Dr. Abigail Alexander, led me to grow to a higher level of fluency in French. I was blessed to study in France, perform for the Kennedy Center Theatre Festival, book my first professional production, etc. because of my time at USI. Now, I use all this garnered knowledge and experience to lead ninth through twelfth grade theatre and musical theatre students as young professional artists and prepare them directly for college or the performance industries –all this while practicing my art in theatre, film and television. It’s safe to say I am grateful for my time at USI. 
I fell in love with French in high school. My instructor was a Nigerian tribal princess, so she had a very emphatic style of teaching. I fell in love with her class and subsequently the language. I knew since I was pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree, I had to take a foreign language. It was a no-brainer that I’d take French. Dr. Jensen and Dr. Alexander scheduled a meeting with me about majoring in French because they believed I learned the language easily and spoke it well. We made it happen.”

Student Spotlights:

Amira Alashi

Class of 2024

Bachelor of Arts in Sociology

  1. Where are you from? This is always fun for me to answer because there is a long answer and a short answer. Long answer is that I am a Palestinian born in Iraq who then moved to the United Arab Emirates when I was 2 and then finally to the U.S. when I was 10. The short answer is that I am from Evansville! 
  2. What brought you to USI? I knew I wanted to stay at home for my undergrad, and USI gave me the change I needed while staying in Evansville. I went to a small high school, so USI gave me the bigger campus feel while maintaining a classroom size that ensures strong relationships with my professors and classmates. That, along with the BMD scholarship, gave USI everything I could have asked for in a university.
  3. What major/minor did you pick and why? I am a sociology and Spanish double major on the pre-medicine track. While I love biology and the natural sciences, undergrad was my last chance to study something outside of that. My advisor signed me up for SOC 121 during my first semester at USI, and I immediately fell in love. Even though I didn’t know its name, sociology had always been my passion. As for Spanish, I wanted to maintain and grow what I had learned in high school. With the proficiency I have gained at USI, I hope that I can communicate with more of my patients and make them feel seen and heard.
  4. What clubs or extracurricular activities have you participated in? It was a bit challenging for me to join campus clubs as a commuter student during the pandemic, but I knew that I wanted to join College Mentors for Kids (CMFK). Halfway through my fourth year in CMFK, I am so happy I dedicated my time to it. It has been so rewarding to form relationships with elementary schoolers alongside my fellow mentors. While I wish I could have joined more extracurriculars, I would not trade CMFK for anything else.
  5. What has been your favorite part of USI or your coursework? It took me some time to narrow down what my favorite part has been, but if I had to choose, I would say my friends, both old and new. I cannot imagine going through biochemistry and other classes without my friends. I constantly look back on late night study sessions at the library as we tried to fit chapters worth of information into our brains. I loved exchanging schedules to find any overlapping gaps to eat lunch together and spontaneous coffee runs right before class. I would not have experienced that without USI, and I will always value that. 
  6. Did someone at USI make an impact on your future? I have been so lucky to have three advisors that have immensely helped me during my time at USI. Dr. Sparks-Thissen, Dr. Buck and Dr. Champagne paved the way for my acceptance to med school, and I will forever be grateful for them.
  7. What made you want to go to IU School of Medicine? While many factors have gone into my decision to go to IU School of Medicine (IUSM), the main one is my family. I know that I cannot go through medical school without them, so I wanted to stay home. Luckily, IUSM expanded to Evansville, so I knew that I would get one of the best medical educations available while staying home. Our high school provided tours of the IUSM campus when the Stone Center first opened, and from that moment I could imagine myself as a student there. Sometimes, you can feel where you belong, and that is how IUSM has always felt for me.
  8. What advice would you give to incoming USI students? My biggest piece of advice is to do what you love. I know it sounds very cheesy, but it makes a world of difference when you are studying something that actually interests you. Find a way to make your interest a minor or even a major so that it can fuel you throughout undergrad. College is already hard enough, and cutting out your interests will make it even harder. Having sociology and Spanish classes sprinkled throughout my semesters gave me the motivation I needed to complete my pre-medicine prerequisites. If I could go back, I would not do anything differently.
  9. Anything else you would like to include? I hope my experience can encourage other pre-medicine students to venture into different majors. I truly believe that having people from different educational backgrounds in medical school will yield well-rounded physicians with unique approaches to medicine.

              Audrey Fox

              Class of 2023

              Bachelor of Arts in World Languages and Cultures Teaching Major- French

              Aix-en-Provence, France Spring Semester 2023: "I studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France for my Spring Semester in 2023. Because this program is designed to teach French to international students, I was simultaneously able to learn from a French-native and professional, while also meeting and practicing the language with people from all over the world. All my classes were in French and focused on strengthening my language level and knowledge of the culture. Additionally, I had many opportunities to travel throughout Europe during my semester! In total, I visited five different countries and ten cities in France. This opportunity was so unique and transformed my outlook on the world and culture as a whole." 
              Accra, Ghana Summer 2023: "I was also blessed to take a University trip to the coast of Ghana with a few other students and some University staff and mentors. This trip was nothing short of life changing. We learned so much about African history and how it is still impacting our world today. We were also immersed in the culture of Ghana through food, song, dance, and in conversation with Ghanaian students and educators. Another aspect of this trip I really cherish was the incredible bonding that happened with our mentors and the other students on the trip. As a whole, this experience is not one that I take lightly, and will forever have an impact on my mind and heart."

              Elizabeth Harris

              Class of 2024

              Bachelor of Arts in Art with an Illustration emphasis and Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science

              “Over the summer sessions and throughout this semester, I have been taking research credit (BIOL 499) with Dr. Rex Strange. Dr. Strange is working to create a dichotomous key to be used for identifying fish found here in southern Indiana and in the closely surrounding areas. This key is to be used as a tool when he teaches the ichthyology class but also just as a general tool to help people identify fish in this area to the family level. Certain family specific keys are also being created to help identify these specific families to the species level. I have made illustrations for the 26 fish families found in this area, and I am now working on more species-specific illustrations. All my illustrations have been made based illustrations and information in fish identification books and using Adobe Fresco.”

              Featured Events:

              Albertine Cinémathèque French Film Festival

              The College of Liberal Arts and World Languages and Cultures Department will host film showings on Fridays beginning January 19 and running through February 23. Through the generosity of Villa Albertine for gifting the Albertine Cinémathèque Festival Grant to USI, six films have been selected for the series: L'innocent, Saint Omer, Josep, Casablanca Beats, Monsieur Klein and La Gravité. 

              Learn More

              Communication and Media Night at the Game

              5 p.m. Thursday, January 25 

              We are proud of our Communication and Media Department alumni, faculty and students and the lives you impact on a daily basis. We celebrate you and your accomplishments each and every day. Now we want to celebrate with you! Alumni and students in attendance will receive a complimentary goodie bag, including a t-shirt and concession voucher.

              Registration deadline: January 18 

              RSVP now!

              College of Liberal Arts Achievements

              Dr. Shannon Pritchard, Associate Professor of Art History: Pritchard presented her paper titled, Seeing Through Giovanni di Paolo’s Eyes in Fifteenth Century Siena on Friday, October 27at the Sixteenth Century Society Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. Her presentation was part of a panel titled, What’s New is Old…Again: Sixteenth Century Artists’ Use of the Past.

              Rob Millard-Mendez, Professor of Art: Millard-Mendez won the second-place award in The Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana annual spooky show in October. First place went to a USI Art and Design Department alum, Aly Smith.  

              Dr. Kristin LaFollette, Assistant Professor of English: LaFollette’s research article, Exploring Embodiment Through Rhetoric of Health and Medicine: An Arts-Based, Transgenre Pedagogy, recently received the 2023 Article of the Year Award from the Association for the Rhetoric of Science, Technology, and Medicine (ARSTM). LaFollette completed this research project with the assistance of a USI Early Career Faculty Grant.

              Dr. Stella Ress, Associate Professor of History, and Dr. Denise Lynn, Chair of the History Department, wrote introductions for a website called Mapping Inequality. 

              Dr. Denise Lynn, Chair of the History Department, will release her book, Claudia Jones: Visions of a Socialist America, on January 30 in the U.S. 

              Nancy Raen-Mendez, Instructor in Art: 

              • Hers (painting), 45th Annual Whitewater Valley Art Competition, group exhibition. Indiana University East Art Galleries, Richmond, Indiana, October 13 through December 18 
              • Bayard Park Bird, Backyard Egg, and A Schnucks Cupcake (painting), Still Life – 2023, Gallerium online, October 12 through December 12 

              Dr. Dan Bauer, Professor of Anthropology: Bauer was invited by the French Institute for Andean Studies to present at the colloquium, La Concha Spondylus: Balance y Perspectivas desde la Arqueologia Andina y Mesoamerica. The colloquium was held in Lima, Peru November 15-16 and was funded by the French Museum of Natural History and the French Institute for Andean Studies (Lima). The colloquium consisted of 15 invited speakers (12 archaeologists, two biologists and one cultural anthropologist (Bauer)) from seven countries. Bauer’s presentation was titled La Cuna del Spondylus: Perspectivas Etnograficas desde la Costa Ecuatoriana.

              Additionally, Bauer was invited to give a presentation in the Amazonian city of Iquitos, Peru at the Biblioteca Amazonica on November 21. The presentation was titled Spondylus a Chambira: Perspectivas Antropologicas desde la costa ecuatoriana a la Amazonia Peruana and was sponsored by the Peruvian Ministry of Culture, the Escuela de Artes y Culturas Amazonicas and the Asociacion Cultural Miguelina Acosta Cardenas. 

              Dr. Taylor Petty, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, and Dr. Laura Lutgen-Nieves, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice: Petty and Lutgen-Nieves recently had an article published on Feminist Criminology. In 2022, Lutgen-Nieves conducted 101 semi-structured interviews of individuals held at Vanderburgh County Jail related to substance use and mental health issues.  

              Dr. Joy Santee, Associate Professor of English: Students in this semester's ENG 411: Writing in the Digital Age course have been writing blog posts, event proposals, marketing materials and recommendation reports as part of a semester-long service-learning project with community organization Seton Harvest. The first publicly available document has now been posted on Seton Harvest's blogIt was also posted on the organization's Facebook page. The author of the post is senior USI student Clarissa Botello, who is majoring in English with a concentration in professional writing and rhetoric. Posts from other students will be published in the coming months. 

              Jenn Horn, Instructor in English: In September, Horn attended and volunteered at the Midwest First-Year Conference in Kenosha, Wisconsin, of which she is on the planning committee. The conference theme was The Whole Scoop: A Holistic Approach to FYE, and presentations were given about all the offices and departments that are necessary for first-year student success. 
              In October, Horn co-presented with Taylor Horsley, Adjunct in English, at the Indiana College English Association Conference held at USI. The theme was Making the Invisible, Visible, and Rokicki and Horn discussed placement reading (how students end up in their composition courses) and had some audience participation where the discussed ways they might make the process more visible to those outside the English department and the College of Liberal Arts. 
              In November, Horn was the Panel Chair for Folklore, Art, and Education and presented her paper titled Disentangling the Discontent: Planting New Roots in Academia at the Annual Meeting of the American Folklore Society in Portland, Oregon. The theme was Roots, Rootlessness, and Uprooting. 

              Dr. Andy Buck, Buck, Andrew. 2023. “Critical Letter Writing and Deliberation During the Brezhnev Era.” Europe-Asia Studies. DOI: 10.1080/09668136.2023.2277138 

              See more achievements from the College of Liberal Arts

              Upcoming Events


              February 2: Albertine Cinémathèque French Film Festival - Josep

              February 9: Albertine Cinémathèque French Film Festival - Casablanca Beats

              February 9-11:​​​​​​​ Family Weekend!

              February 15-18:​​​​​​​ Ride the Cyclone The Musical

              February 16: Albertine Cinémathèque French Film Festival - Monsieur Klein

              February 23: Albertine Cinémathèque French Film Festival - La Gravité

              February 23:​​​​​​​ Faculty Colloquium: Dr. Jane Weatherred

              See More Events Here