First Generation Faculty

First Generation Faculty

Scott Crider, Ph.D. - Professor, English

Scott Crider, Ph.D.

I was born and grew up in Sacramento in Northern California, where my father was stationed at McClellen Air Force Base, and my mother took care of my two sisters and me. My Mom had gone to UCLA for a semester, but dropped out when her family’s business failed; my Dad had just his high school diploma.

So my older sisters went to California State University in Sacramento—because it was there and affordable. I went there because they did: I didn’t even look at other schools.

I lucked out and got a fabulous education from teachers who had themselves received marvelous liberal educations at fine schools. I became a lover of learning under the influence of those remarkable teachers, whom I still use as models in my own teaching. They taught me to read and write, and listen and speak, the arts fundamental to humanistic education and civic participation, and those arts prepared me for the highest level of academic work.

I kept going for a Masters after the Bachelors, thinking I would teach high school. No one in my extended family had ever worked in higher education. That was for other people. But my wife persuaded me to get a Ph.D., so I went to the University of California at Riverside, after which I came to UD, where we’ve been happy ever since.

I was an FGS before the term existed, and like others, missed opportunities because my family did not know they existed and those opportunities often required a pedigree I didn’t have. But I thrived anyway, in part because of my privilege as a straight white male, in greater part because I wanted to learn and I was willing to do the hard but glorious work of catching up (which never ends). Eva Brann, the legendary woman of letters at St. John’s College, Annapolis says that any student who can read and count is ready for a liberal education—if, that is, they desire the education and are willing to discipline their desire to achieve it.

At UD, I have been committed for thirty years in helping those students of desire and discipline thrive in the liberal education we provide, animated by the obvious belief that every UD student is a UD student, whether they are from a legacy UD family, or they are from a family like mine, whose parents were good, intelligent, industrious people who sacrificed a great deal so my sisters and I could have an opportunity they did not.

After my father retired from the USAF, having put his children through college, he went to American River Junior College, where he did what I never did: he graduated with an AA with a 4.0 GPA.

Jonathan Dannatt, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor, Organic Chemistry

Jonathan Dannatt

Dr. Jonathan E. Dannatt received his undergraduate training in chemistry and mathematics from Lyon College, a small liberal arts college located in the foothills of the Ozarks. While at Lyon, he had the opportunity to engage in a number of undergraduate research projects including an NSF funded REU at Georgetown University. These pivotal research experiences shaped his decision to pursue a graduate degree at Michigan State University after completion of his course work at Lyon in 2014. At MSU he joined Professor Robert Maleczka's highly collaborative team where he studied organic chemistry. Specifically, his doctoral studies focused on uncovering active and selective iridium based C–H activation borylation catalysts and the targeted synthesis of silsesquioxanes, a hybrid organic-inorganic class of compounds shown to provide significant polymer property enhancements. He defended this research and earned his doctorate in July of 2019.

Jonathan joined the faculty at the University of Dallas in August 2019 and teaches the organic chemistry sequence. Given the significant impact undergraduate research had on his career path, he hopes to provide equally transformative research opportunities in organic chemistry to students at UD. 

Deanna Soper, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor, Biology

Deanna Soper

I was born in a poor suburb on the South side of Chicago, but at 6 my parents moved to a middle-class home in Crown Point, Indiana to escape the poor living conditions. After 12 years of education in Crown Point, I attended Tri-State University (now called Trine University) and majored in Biology and Science Education. Upon graduation, I obtained a job teaching high school biology at my Alma Mater, Crown Point High School. During my time teaching there, I went to graduate school in the evenings for a Master's in Business Administration. Although I ultimately decided not to pursue a career in business, that degree taught me that I am truly an educator and my passion is biology. Three years later, I began a Ph.D. at Indiana University (Bloomington) in the fields of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior. In 2012, I graduated with my Ph.D. and over the next 4 years I had a number of different jobs including a postdoctoral position at the University of Iowa and a Visiting Assistant Professorship at Beloit College in Wisconsin. In 2016, I interviewed for a number of positions for tenure-track jobs. Although going into the process I laughed at the idea of living in Dallas, the university, expectations of the job, and the facilities that the university had would allow me to reach my professional goals. I also really liked everyone I met while on my interview and felt it would also be a great place to live and work. Fall 2016 was my first semester in this role and I have enjoyed it ever since, knowing that this is the right place for me. Throughout this journey, I had many stumbling blocks that I had to overcome and a number of them were quite higher due to the fact that I was a first generation student. For example, I never imagined that I would be able to obtain a Master's let alone a Ph.D., primarily because I didn't view myself as having the capability to do so. I was the first person in my family to graduate with a Bachelor's degree, so I thought I was done with being a student! But, life taught me that my true calling required me to obtain higher degrees. It took me longer to figure out how to do that because I had no one that I personally knew to ask questions of. As a result, I took every opportunity possible including three summer teacher workshops that enabled me to interact with research professors at major research institutions. It was those interactions and questions that I asked that helped to be my guiding light in the process. As a professor now, I always recommend to students to remain curious, ask questions of others, but more importantly of yourself. What is it that you really love? How can I get there? Who do I know that is already doing that job? If I don't already know someone doing that job, can I seek out that interaction? And, for those students who aren't first generation, and have parents who are already in careers, be open to helping your friends answer some of those important questions. If your friend doesn't have the means to travel and your parents are open to them coming along, invite them to come along (travel is such a great way to explore and discover one's self). If your friend needs to talk to someone in a particular field and one of your family members is already doing the job (or something similar) that they wish to do, connect them! Networking is possibly one of the most important skills to get you where you need to be (something else my M.B.A. taught me!). In the end, I think the most important thing is to remain curious, don't be afraid to ask the questions even if they are difficult to answer. And, as always, you have a home in my office! If you need anything, please let me know!

Malcolm Kass, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor, Economics


Dr. Kass was raised in a rural area in the midwest. Neither of his parents had a college education. After his undergraduate degree, Dr. Kass worked for 10 years, including at 3M as an engineer, before returning to graduate school to pursue his doctorate degree in Economics.

Dr. Kass went to the University of Nebraska. He says, “For me, I only applied there because in my parents' mind, colleges were homogenous.  They were all more of the same, so they didn't understand how a college at U of Dallas can be a very different place vs. a large state school. ” His greatest challenge was seeking knowledge about what to do when at school.

After college, Dr. Kass worked for a large manufacturing company in Missouri. Today, he serves as an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Dallas. Some advice he would give to his past self highlights that “There are many benefits of studying/working hard in college outside of your grades.  Many more doors will be open to you than what you realize. I would have worked harder in class AND gotten to know my professors!  Too often, students view professors as enemies and will not interact with them.  But we want to help!”

Steven Foutch, M.F.A. - Department Chair, Art


Mr. Foutch lives and works in Irving but was born in the outskirts of a small town in Southern Illinois. He makes art primarily in print media, drawing, and installation. He earned his BFA from Southern Illinois University. While at SIU he received the Rickert-Ziebold Trust Award. In 2007, Mr. Foutch received his MFA from the University of Notre Dame.

Mr. Foutch is currently Department Chair and Assistant Professor of Art at the University of Dallas. He heads the printmaking area and directs the Matrix Printmaking Program. He exhibits his work widely and has had several recent solo exhibitions in Dallas. His research explores contemporary landscapes with a focus on rural america.

Mr. Foutch went to Southern Illinois University for undergrad and Notre Dame for graduate school. “Applying to graduate school was very difficult and time consuming. The main challenge was that each school had a different requested format for the materials. The challenge in undergrad was making sure that I was taking advantage of benefits that were available at that time in Illinois.” His motivation was the passion he had for his major.

After graduating, he worked for a regional museum, substitute taught, and then worked in commercial printing where he was the Director of Operations for a large online company. Some advice he’d give to his old self is to “not waste time in grad school!” He emphasizes the importance of taking advantage of every second and of every resource available. “Stay focused.”

Carmen Newstreet, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor, Education


Dr. Newstreet was born and raised in Florida where her father worked in management at Ford Car Dealership and her mother was a stay-at-home mom. Neither of her parents had a college education. Dr. Newstreet is the third child in her family - where her two older brothers graduated from college and her younger sister partially completed her education at a local junior college.

She says, “I was convinced that I would study medicine. Then I learned that you had to be strong in math and science classes. High school convinced me to choose another career path.”

Dr. Newstreet graduated from Emory University in Atlanta, GA. “Back then the process was arduous and conducted hard copy via snail mail. I started looking at possible schools when I was in middle school. My father suffered a massive stroke the summer of my junior year in high school and I needed to find substantial financial aid in order to go to college because suddenly, my family was no longer able to afford to send me.”

Her motivation during those years was simply her wish to graduate. Dr. Newstreet wanted to prove to herself and her family that she could accomplish the task. She worked numerous hours at jobs that paid her living expenses and managed to earn good grades.

After graduating, she applied to graduate schools in education but decided at the last minute not to go due to expenses. She joined the corporate world and helped write training programs for employees.

Some advice she’d give to her past self may be very familiar to many first-gen students today: “I frequently made myself physically sick with worry that I would not do well on tests. I realize now that was because I never really believed that I belonged in the university setting, when in fact, I did. I was just as bright as anyone else, and worked just as hard as my fellow students. I would try to be easier on my past self.”

Richard Peregoy, D.P.S - Associate Professor of Management

Richard Peregoy

Tell us about your experience as a first-generation student.

I am a first gen college graduate.  I paid all of my expenses by working. I did live at home with my parents  Of course my first semester's tuition was $250.00 at LaSalle College in Philadelphia, and I took 21 credit hours.  I graduated in 4 years Magna Cum Laude.

Why did you become a professor?
I’ve benefitted from teachers throughout my formal and informal education.  They provided theoretical and practical knowledge.  This is my base.  After many years in commerce and consulting, practicing the craft of management, I wanted to share the theoretical knowledge and practical experience with others.   So I became a professor.

What do you most enjoy about teaching?
Partly the joy of seeing students grasp a concept and apply it in assignments.  A significant element is feedback from students over the years citing their experiences in applying what they learned in their lives, their current work, and in their careers.

What do you hope students gain from your courses?
An appreciation for the value of a good theory base and the ability to develop the theory in their own work practices.  I want students to realize their potential and to have vision.  I want them to enjoy continual learning and to make a difference in the world.

What did you do prior to entering academe?
I spent a number of years in the construction industry while attending university for both my undergraduate and MBA degrees.  I entered industry as an Industrial Engineer, transferred to Industrial Relations, and rose to a position as Corporate Director of Employee Relations for a division of a multi-national firm.  Seeking more personal growth, I started a private consulting practice and decided to study for a doctorate which I earned in 1978. With this combination of advanced education and experience I became an internal consultant and headed the internal management consulting for a large utility.

What are you passionate about outside of the University?
An appreciation of the value of international study and work.  I’ve lived abroad and travelled extensively while maintaining an active interest in the economics, culture, and politics of the world—especially Brazil.  Also, I learned to meditate and continue daily meditation and prayer for personal growth and development.

What are your research interests?
Management Spirituality and Religion and its practical application to current issues in management and leadership.   I continue to expand my academic knowledge.

Lance Simmons, Ph.D. - Associate Professor, Philosophy


I teach in our Philosophy Department. I went to college for a semester, dropped out, and returned two years later. After graduating I went to graduate school.

Before college, did you know what you wanted to do?

No. Not at all.

Where did you go to college and how did you achieve that? What was the application process like? Any challenges?

I went to the University of California at Berkeley. My family was supporting me, but I dropped out after one semester. When I returned to school two years later, I supported myself by working summers and part-time during the school year.

What was your motivation during your college years?

I fell in love with philosophy in my second year, and after that my only motivation was to get the opportunity to study more philosophy.

What did you do after graduating from college?

I went to graduate school, then came to teach here.

What’s some advice you would give to your past self?

Consult with your advisor regarding your schedule.

After having been a first-generation student, how does it affect you today?

I keep in mind that many of my students are working to put themselves through school.

Bernadette Waterman Ward, Ph.D. - Professor, English

Bernadette Waterman Ward

My father finished high school and took a commercial training course so he could go into logistics for trucking. My mother had to leave school at fifteen when her mother died, so she could care for her sisters. My parents valued education and sacrificed a lot of comforts to send all nine of us children to Catholic schools. One of my high school teachers suggested that I apply to Harvard when he saw my test scores. Scholarships paid for much of my education. Because my parents could not contribute much, I worked at least twenty hours a week during my undergraduate years–thirty my senior year so I could pay all outstanding bills and graduate. I knew I was getting a huge opportunity to learn, and I loved learning. My professors encouraged me to go on; I wanted to  start a mobile school for migrant farmworkers, having seen the need. After a year of trying to figure out how to do that and getting training for it, I was unable to find the money. Along with my desire to  serve others who had difficult backgrounds, I was in love with poetry.  Plan B was a Ph.D. in English at Stanford, which does give graduate students a stipend--not quite enough  to live on, but in those days enough for  rent. As a grad student, I was able to found a literacy program that got a couple of hundred people enough English and civics lessons to obtain green cards under the Reagan immigration amnesty. I still worked  about twenty hours a week, except when a fellowship made it possible to concentrate on my dissertation. Dane Waterman met and married me during grad school. I worked for ten years at the State University of New York at Oswego, winning tenure. I was dissatisfied with the  lack of  coherence in the education provided there. In 2000, I abandoned tenure to come to the University of Dallas, where I have loved teaching ever since, both in Irving and in Rome. Once my children were grown, I again taught English to immigrants as a volunteer, until the pandemic stopped the classes. Now that I am back from sabbatical, I may be able to find a way to  start doing that again.