Honors Program Faculty

Lora Becker, Professor/Psychology

Dr. Lora Becker


Hyde Hall, Room 217 E

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 BS in biology and psychology from Wright State University, as well as a MA in psychobiology and PhD.. 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.
Tony Beavers, Professor of Philosophy

Dr. Tony Beavers

Professor of Philosophy

Olmsted Hall, Room 301
Beavers Beavers Personal Website

Dr. Anthony Beavers, professor of philosophy, 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 BA and MA in philosophy from Trinity College and a PhD 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, Theatre History and Criticism / Professor

Dr. Diane Brewer, BA, PhD

Theatre History and Criticism / Professor

Hyde Hall, Room 109A

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 BA in drama from Tufts University and a PhD 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, Professor/Creative Writing/English

Dr. Robert Griffith

Professor/Creative Writing/English

Olmsted Hall, Room 416B

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 BA in literature and creative writing from the University of Tennessee and a MFA 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, Department Chair/History

Dr. James MacLeod

Department Chair/History

Olmsted Hall, Room 346

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.
Annette Parks, Professor/History

Dr. Annette Parks


Olmsted Hall, Room 345

Dr. Annette Parks serves as associate professor and chair of the Department of History and director of the 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 BA in history from Oglethorpe University. Her MA and PhD 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, Associate Professor/Sociology

Dr. Mari Plikuhn

Associate Professor/Sociology

Schroeder School of Business Building, Room 62

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 BA in sociology/clinical psychology, a MS in sociology, a MS in marriage and family therapy, and a PhD 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.

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