University of Evansville

Honors Program

Honors students enjoy many benefits including special housing, early registration for classes, special networking opportunities, and the camaraderie of peers who enjoy being intellectually engaged.

Faculty

Lora Becker

Dr. Lora Becker

Associate Professor/Psychology
Hyde Hall 208
812-488-2532

Dr. Lora Becker, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, teaches the Honors course, "Introduction to Behavioral Neuroscience". In this course, students study the nervous system and how it controls the actions of the human body. In addition to the textbook, students read essays from Robert Sapolsky and Oliver Sacks which present case studies of individuals with neurological impairments or critiques on how neuroscience findings can enlighten understanding of ourselves.|

"After taking this course, I hope that students have a greater understanding of themselves with regards to the functioning of their nervous system," explains Dr. Becker. "There are several tricks and tips a student can learn about how to better manage their concentration, need for sleep and ability to learn college material. Not only do students develop an appreciation for the field of Neuroscience, they come away with a better understanding of their own behavior."

Of Honors students, Dr. Becker remarks, "I enjoy teaching UE Honors students because they come to class with a desire to understand. Conversation about the essays is always lively and full of great insight!"

Dr. Becker received her undergraduate dual B.S. in Biology and Psychology from Wright State University, as well as a M.A. in Psychobiology and Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience from Binghamton University. Her research expertise is in the field of behavioral neuroscience. She has been published in numerous scholarly journals, including Comparative Clinical Pathology and the Journal of Applied Biological Sciences. Dr. Becker is a member of the Nu Rho Psi Neuroscience Honors Society, Phi Kappa Phi, and The National Society of Collegiate Scholars. She received the Dean of Arts and Sciences Teaching Award in 2007 and the Dean of Students Advisor of the Year Award in 2004.

Anthony Beavers

Dr. Anthony Beavers

Professor/Philosophy
Olmsted Hall 301
812-488-2682

Dr. Anthony Beavers, Professor of Philosophy and Department Chair, Philosophy and Religion, has taught several Honors courses on topics such as Emergence and Reduction in the Sciences; The Philosophy of Complex Systems; The Philosophy of Information; Information Ethics; Kant's Critique of Pure Reason; and Plato's Psychological Dialogues. These courses are discussion-oriented, writing-intensive courses with approximately 12 students seated around a conference table.| The writing methodology is collaborative, which facilitates rapid growth in the students' abilities to comprehend difficult texts that are, initially, beyond their means.

Dr. Beavers comments, “My goal is that students leave my courses with an appreciation for complex questions without easy answers, a broader awareness of what's going on in the world, and a skill set appropriate for beginning to address important issues.”

About teaching Honors students, Dr. Beavers notes, “Honors students are enjoyable to teach because of their energy and curiosity and, mostly, because they generally care more about learning than their grades, which are good in any case.”

Dr. Beavers holds a B.A. and M.A in Philosophy from Trinity College and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Marquette University. His research expertise is in topics that concern the philosophy of information, ethics in the information age, computational modeling and special topics in the philosophy of science. He was recently awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities to explore digital philosophy at Indiana University, and in 2012 he was presented with the World Technology Award in Ethics, which was sponsored by CNN, Time Magazine, Fortune, Science, and the MIT Technology Review. This past year, he was presented with the Dean’s Teaching Award for his innovative use of technology in the classroom. He has published over thirty articles on topics related to the above.

Diane Brewer

Dr. Diane Brewer

Professor/Theatre
Hyde Hall 112
812-488-2369

Dr. Diane Brewer, Professor of Theatre, teaches three Honors courses for theatre majors – "Survey and Analysis of Dramatic Literature" and "Theatre History I and II". In describing the classes, she explains, "In Survey and Analysis, we look at plays that fall within the Aristotelian tradition and those that intentionally deviate from those conventions.| As we do so, we engage in intensive discussions and writing assignments that help students learn to identify and understand their personal reactions to plays. In both semesters of Theatre History, we throw ourselves into the gap between past and present, holding ourselves to rigorous standards of research, writing, and critical thinking."

"I want my students to feel challenged and inspired to continue exploring the connection between their own values and the theatre they create," Dr. Brewer notes. "I enjoy teaching UE Honors students because they keep me on my toes. They often ask questions I've never considered and come up with solutions I've never imagined. In that way, they reaffirm why I teach – to keep learning."

Dr. Brewer holds a B.A. in Drama from Tufts University and a Ph.D. in Theatre from UCLA. Her areas of expertise include Theatre History and Dramatic Criticism, and she also dramaturgs and directs productions for the UE Theatre department. Her articles have been published in The Dramaturgy Protocol, The Dramaturgy Sourcebook (vol. 4), Theatre Topics, PAJ: Performing Arts Journal, and HowlRound at the Center for Theater Commons. She has received such honors as the Dean's Teaching Award, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Evansville and a Certificate of Merit for Dramaturgy from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

Robert Griffith

Dr. Robert Griffith

Professor/Creative Writing
Olmsted Hall 416B
812-488-2962

Robert Griffith, Professor of Creative Writing, has taught several Honors courses, including "Irish Literature" and "Introduction to Creative Writing." In his Honors course, "The Simpsons and Postmodern Literature", students used the popular TV show The Simpsons as a lens through which to examine and explore the possibilities of postmodern literature such as Nabokov's Pale Fire, Italo Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveler, and other novels.|

"After taking one of my courses, I hope students have acquired not only a greater comprehension of the subjects we study, but also a greater love for literature itself," comments Professor Griffith.

About Honors students, Professor Griffith notes, "What I enjoy most about teaching UE Honors students is their willingness to challenge themselves and to more fully explore the topics they encounter. Likewise, I feel they more fully embody the mission of the university in that they engage themselves more completely in academic and creative endeavors which truly are transformative to their lives as students and citizens of the world."

Professor Griffith holds a B.A. in literature and creative writing from the University of Tennessee and a M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Arkansas. His areas of expertise include creative writing (poetry, fiction, and nonfiction) and editing. Professor Griffith is the author of four books, including The Moon from Every Window (David Robert Books, 2011), which was nominated for the 2013 Poets' Prize and A Matinee in Plato's Cave (Water Press & Media, 2008), winner of the 2008 Best Book of Indiana Award. He has also published poems and articles in journals and magazines such as Poetry, The Oxford American, PN Review, Phi Kappa Phi Forum, The North American Review, and others. Professor Griffith received the Sadelle and Sydney Berger Outstanding Scholar Award in 2011, as well as the University of Evansville Outstanding Professor of the Year Award in 2005.

James MacLeod

Dr. James MacLeod

Professor/History
Olmsted Hall 343
812-488-2599

Dr. James MacLeod, Professor of History, teaches an Honors course in World History since 1500. He has also taught several First-Year Seminar courses for Honors students dealing with the development of the modern world. “I think what is special about these classes is that they are run as discussion seminars, where everyone gets a lot of chances to contribute,” says Dr. MacLeod.|

“I lead the discussions, but I expect the Honors students to take the opportunity to move the direction of the discussions – and they usually do! I enjoy teaching Honors students because they are smart, articulate, highly motivated, well-informed and almost always willing to talk in a sophisticated way about complex issues.”

He adds, “After taking one of my courses, I hope that students leave with a realization that they have enormous potential and that they are the kind of people who can change the world. They will be better readers, better writers, better speakers and better thinkers - and they will have had a fun time in class!”

Dr. MacLeod received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in History from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He has published a book on 19th-century British religion, The Second Disruption [2000], as well as over 20 other scholarly publications. His research focuses on the First World War and in particular, how it was memorialized. Dr. MacLeod was named UE’s Outstanding Teacher in 2009. He has also won the University of Evansville Sadelle and Sydney Berger Award for Scholarship, the School of Business Administration Impact Award, the United Methodist Church Exemplary Teacher Award and the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Teaching Award.

Dianne Oliver

Dr. Dianne Oliver

Professor/Religion & Associate Dean/College Arts & Sciences
Olmsted Hall 342
812-488-1035

Dr. Dianne Oliver, Professor of Religion and Associate Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, has taught several courses for Honors students, including “God, Suffering, and Evil”, “Living World Religions”, “Christian Ethics”, and “Leading Lives that Matter.” In these courses, students explore challenging and fascinating topics such as suffering in the world, religious diversity, ethical concerns regarding controversial topics, and how to live a life of meaning and purpose.| Through their coursework, students explore not only the subject matter, but also their own beliefs, commitments, and ideas.

“Because I teach religion and ethics, students will frequently come into my class hoping to find answers to all of their ‘big’ questions,” says Dr. Oliver. “We explore with strong academic rigor the depths of such questions and the various ways that people have developed responses to them - a daunting task requiring close reading of texts, creative development of ideas, and willingness to analyze, criticize, construct and reconstruct. What I ultimately hope is that students come away realizing that exploring the ‘big questions’ is a lifetime journey that takes skill, intentionality, and engagement with wisdom that has developed throughout human history.”

Dr. Oliver adds, “I love teaching Honors students because of the questions they ask and topics they are willing to explore. When you get a classroom full of students with strong passions and excellent academic backgrounds, you never know where things might go! We really can take the work of the class as a whole to a new level.”

Dr. Oliver received a B.S. degree with Honors from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She holds a M.Div. from Southern Seminary, and both a M.A. and Ph.D. in Religion from Vanderbilt University. Her research expertise is in the areas of social justice and liberation theologies, issues of peace and nonviolence, and interreligious engagement. She serves as a national consultant on teaching and learning in religion through the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, and she was a Global Scholar, Institute for Global Enterprise in Indiana, in 2011-2012, which included a grant to research and develop a course on religions of East Asia. Dr. Oliver was nominated for U.S. Carnegie Professor of the Year in 2011 and 2012, and was named the University of Evansville Alumni Association Teacher of the Year in 2007.

Annette Parks

Dr. Annette Parks

Department Chair/History
Olmsted Hall 345
812-488-1070

Dr. Annette Parks serves as Associate Professor, History; Chair, Department of History; and Director, Gender and Women’s Studies Program. She has taught several Honors courses, including “World History to 1500”, “Medieval Europe”, and “Women in the Pre-Modern World”. Dr. Parks explains, “The main differences between these courses and non-honors sections is the level of intensity in class discussions and the expectations for level of expression and nuance in written work.| Honors classes will typically involve more complex reading and more writing. Students are expected to ‘stretch’ themselves both in the classroom and in the amount of time and effort expended outside the class.”

Dr. Parks adds, “In addition to gaining some level of factual knowledge, I hope that students in all of my classes will learn how to think critically and analytically about historical evidence, become more effective at expressing themselves both orally and in writing, and develop an enthusiasm for the study of history.”

About Honors students, Dr. Parks notes, “Teaching Honors students is especially rewarding for me because of the students’ enthusiasm for learning and willingness to put in the required time and effort. I also find that in Honors sections, class discussions are often more lively and engaging.”

Dr. Parks holds a B.A. in History from Oglethorpe University. Her M.A. and Ph.D. are from Emory University, where her primary field of study was Medieval Europe with supporting fields in Greek and Roman History and Early Modern Europe. Her current research is focused on questions involving hostages in the Middle Ages with emphasis on Scottish and Welsh hostages in Britain between ca 1050 and 1300. She has recently expanded by geographic interest to include Cyprus and southern Italy and to a more intense focus on the experiences of female hostages and captives.

Dr. Parks’ manuscript, “Living Pledges”, is currently under contract with Edwin Mellen Press, and she has also published numerous essays and scholarly articles. In July 2013, she was selected for the CIC Summer Seminar on The Iliad at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington D.C. She is a member of several professional honor societies, including National Sorority Phi Delta Kappa, Phi Alpha Theta International History Honor Society, and Pi Gamma Mu International Social Sciences Honor Society.

Mari Plikuhn

Dr. Mari Plikuhn

Assistant Professor/Sociology
Schroeder Family Bldg. 62
812-488-2707

Dr. Mari Plikuhn, Assistant Professor of Sociology, teaches the “Introduction to Sociology” course for Honors students. This course increases students’ knowledge of sociology and its concepts and theories. Students explore the basic social institutions, systems of inequality, and social forces that shape our world, focusing on the intersections of social institutions and how they impact lives.| The Honors course in particular allows students to apply what they learn in writings about concerns in society. This analysis of society hones students’ critical thinking skills and challenges them to see a variety of perspectives.

"I warn students on the first day that, once they take this class, they will never see the world the same way," explains Dr. Plikuhn. "It is impossible to take a sociology class without learning to see the interconnections of society, and how the puzzle of people fits together. Understanding and taking this ‘sociological perspective’ is one of the central concepts in sociology, and it is the most important idea a student takes away from my class."

On teaching Honors students, Dr. Plikuhn notes, "Since this course also serves as a general education requirement, I have Honors students from a wide range of majors. It is easy to expect that these students will be smart, but they are also engaged in their campus and broader community, focused on the pursuit of a broad educational experience, and have a great outlook on society."

Dr. Plikuhn holds a B.A. in Sociology/ Clinical Psychology, a M.S. in Sociology, a M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy, and a Ph.D. in Sociology with a graduate minor in Gerontology. Her research expertise is in family sociology, life course transitions, and demography. Her current research projects include: first-generation college students and the role of family in determining academic outcomes; fertility, infertility, perinatal loss, and childlessness across the life course; and scholarship of teaching and learning. In 2012, Dr. Plikuhn received the University of Evansville Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award, as well as the Teaching Innovations and Faculty Development Award from ASA/SAGE.