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New Faculty 2019

New Faces on Campus: UD Welcomes 21 New Faculty Members

New Faculty 2019Date published: Aug. 29, 2019

The University of Dallas welcomes 21 new faculty members this 2019-20 academic year. Their knowledge and insights will further enrich the university in many disciplines, including accounting, art, business, chemistry, cybersecurity, economics, English, finance, humanities, ministry, philosophy, politics, psychology, Spanish, theology and the library.

Enoch Asare, MBA ’09 MS ’10 DBA ’18, assistant professor of accounting in the Satish and Yasmin Gupta College of Business, was formerly an adjunct in the Gupta College of Business.   

Gregory M. Cruess, Ph.D., assistant professor of historical theology and pastoral ministry in the Ann and Joe O. Neuhoff School of Ministry, earned his doctorate in the history of Christianity from the University of Notre Dame, as well as a Master of Theological Studies from Boston College and a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Notre Dame. His research interests include the history of patristic and medieval theology, Christology and catechetical theology. He and his wife, Fatima, enjoy spending time with their children (John and Ana), visiting family and working together in a variety of parish ministries. 

Ali Dadpay, Ph.D., associate professor of finance in the Satish and Yasmin Gupta College of Business, earned his doctorate in economics with a focus on econometrics from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. He also holds an M.A. in economics from Virginia Tech and a B.S. in electrical engineering from the Sharif University of Technology, as well as an M.S. in socioeconomic systems engineering from the Institute for Management and Planning Studies in Tehran. Previously, he taught in the Bill Munday School of Business at St. Edward's University in Austin. He also has served as a research scientist with the State University of New York Research Foundation and as a consultant with Eurasia Foundation. As visiting faculty, he has taught courses at the University of Caen in France, the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University in Germany and the University of Pannonia in Hungary. He is an active researcher, and his articles on multinational markets have appeared in Eastern Economic Journal, Applied Economics Quarterly and Australian Economic Papers. He also has studied information content-based search criteria for generalized distribution families. A paper based on this study has been published by the Journal of Econometrics, and an application developed for modeling air traffic delays appeared in the Journal of Air Transport Management. Currently, he is working on modeling techniques in reverse mortgage markets and analyzing investors' behavior in international markets.

Jonathan Dannatt, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry, earned his doctorate in organic chemistry from Michigan State University in 2019, where he also received a B.S. in chemistry and mathematics. At MSU, he studied organic synthesis and designed new catalysts with unique and unprecedented reactivity. He strives for excellence both as an educator and as a scholar. In the classroom, he implements modern techniques revealed in chemical education literature to maximize both student learning and accessibility to the field. In his research, Dannatt hopes to leverage his background to develop new reaction methodology using the guiding principles of green chemistry. 

James DeMasi, MA ’18, director of the Writing Lab, is a Ph.D. candidate in literature in the Institute of Philosophic Studies at the University of Dallas. DeMasi holds an M.A. in English from UD and a B.A. in liberal arts from Wyoming Catholic College. His research interests include Shakespeare and the Italian Renaissance, Shakespeare and adaptation theory, Shakespeare in the 19th-century novel, 20th-century literary criticism, the history of rhetoric and the history of skepticism. His dissertation focuses on an intertextual study of Castiglione's Book of the Courtier and three of Shakespeare's comedies. 

Sister Elinor Gardner, O.P., Ph.D., affiliate assistant professor of philosophy, earned her doctorate in philosophy from Boston College in 2009 and since then has been teaching philosophy (from 2009-2013 at The Catholic University of America and from 2013-2017 at Aquinas College in Nashville). Most recently, she spent a year assisting in the formation program of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia. She was an adjunct professor at UD from 2017-2018 and is delighted to be returning.

Christina Hayes Haley, director of the Haggerty Gallery and affiliate assistant professor of art, received her M.F.A. from the University of Melbourne, Australia, in 2015, and completed a B.F.A. there in 2004. Prior to her work at the University of Dallas, Haley was a freelance curator, theater designer and painter. She has held five solo shows, and her paintings have been exhibited in Australia, England, Vietnam and the U.S. Haley has received a number of awards and scholarships, including the Eleanor and Joseph Wertheim Scholarship, Outstanding Creative Government Scholarship (Australia), Arts Project Development Grant, Arts Victoria (joint recipient with The Sisters Hayes), City of Melbourne Young Artist Grant and NAVA Visual and Craft Artists’ Grant for Presentation and Promotion of Art (joint recipient).  

Janet Hendrickson, Ph.D., BA ’03, post-doctoral fellow of Spanish, holds a bachelor’s in English with a concentration in Spanish from the University of Dallas, an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa, and a doctorate in Romance studies from Cornell University. Her current research examines the use of dictionaries and encyclopedias in contemporary hemispheric experimental poetry, focusing particularly on Argentina and Brazil. She also works as a literary translator; her publications include a translation of an anthology of recent Latin American fiction, The Future Is Not Ours (ed. Diego Trelles Paz, Open Letter, 2012), and an experimental translation of Sebastián de Covarrubias’ Treasure of the Castilian or Spanish Language (New Directions, 2019), which turns one of the first dictionaries of a European vernacular into a series of prose poems.

Stacey Hibbs, Ph.D., affiliate professor with a primary appointment in the Politics Department, completed her undergraduate degree in political science at Butler University in Indianapolis. She then went on to finish graduate studies at Boston College. Her primary concentration was in political philosophy, and her dissertation focused on Tocqueville’s “new science of politics.” After serving in the capacity of both a research and a teaching assistant, Hibbs taught in the Perspectives program at BC. For the past 16 years, she has taught in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core and the Great Texts program at Baylor University. Before coming to UD, she was promoted to the rank of senior lecturer at Baylor. 

Christi Ivers, Ph.D., assistant professor of Spanish, earned her doctorate in Spanish literary and cultural studies from the University of Kansas. She joins UD from a position as a lecturer in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Kansas. Ivers’ research interests include print culture, book history and devotional literature in Castilian, Catalan, French and Latin. Her work examines visual and verbal allusions to Christ’s Passion in devotional and secular printed books in the 15th- and 16th-century Iberian world. Some of her favorite teaching moments occur when students show her something new about a familiar text. 

Cara Jacocks, Ph.D., affiliate assistant professor of business communications in the Satish and Yasmin Gupta College of Business, earned her doctorate in organizational communication from Texas A&M University, her M.A. in communication from Abilene Christian University and her B.A. in communication from Texas A&M University. Over the course of her 17-year teaching career, she has instructed classes in business and organizational communication at the undergraduate level that include Business Communication, Management Communication, Organizational Communication, Group Communication, Gender and the Workplace, Leadership, Conflict in the Workplace, Negotiation, Research Methods, Communication Theory and Interviewing. She  also has instructed courses at the graduate level, including an Organizational Communication seminar course to M.A., M.L.S. and D.L.S. students. Her teaching career has exposed her to several university student populations, including Abilene Christian University, Texas Christian University, Southern Methodist University, the University of Texas at Arlington, the University of Texas at Dallas and now the University of Dallas. As new faculty at UD, she is joining the Satish and Yasmin Gupta College of Business, where she will teach Business Communication courses to undergraduates and Qualitative Research Methods and the Craft of Research and Writing to students enrolled in the DBA program. Her research program examines the changing landscape of entrepreneurship, leadership and business/organizational communication practices, primarily through an interpretive/qualitative lens. She has authored and co-authored several projects that have been published in top journals and as peer-reviewed book chapters, and accepted as top paper and panel presentations. Jacocks’ family resides in Fort Worth, and the bulk of her free time is devoted to raising three little boys, Everett (6), Liam (4) and Alec (20 months). Her husband, Victor, is vice president of marketing for a Fort Worth-based nonprofit, Hope Farm Inc., so a good deal of her personal time is also spent supporting his leadership and fundraising activities.

Brittany Landrum, Ph.D., BA ’08, assistant professor of psychology, holds a doctorate and an M.S. in experimental psychology from Texas Christian University and a B.A. in psychology from the University of Dallas. Landrum’s research interests include effective online education and teaching practices as well as the impact of technology on human life, gender and habits of perception. She has taught at the University of Texas at Dallas and the University of North Texas at Dallas and spent the past two years as an affiliate assistant professor with the University of Dallas.  

Jeffrey Lehman, MA ’99 PhD ’02, professor of humanities and philosophy in the Braniff Graduate School of Liberal Arts, earned his doctorate in philosophy from the Institute of Philosophic Studies at the University of Dallas. In addition to an M.A. in philosophy from UD, Lehman also holds an M.A. in the philosophy of religion and ethics (1996) from the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University (La Mirada, California). After teaching philosophy and theology for several years at Biola, he taught liberal arts and great books of the Western tradition for seven years at Thomas Aquinas College (Santa Paula, California) and most recently for six years at Hillsdale College (Hillsdale, Michigan). Lehman is a founding fellow of the Center for Thomas More Studies, the founding director of the Arts of Liberty Project (, and acting director of the Justin Martyr Fellows of the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education. Last autumn he published Augustine: Rejoicing in the Truth, and he recently completed From Plato to Socratic Conversation, both with Classical Academic Press; he is currently working on an introduction to the classical quadrivium. Lehman and his wife, Jennifer, are delighted to return to Irving, and he is honored to join UD’s faculty. 

Tammy Leonard, Ph.D., chair and associate professor of economics, holds a B.S. in chemical engineering from Texas A&M University and M.S. and doctoral degrees in economics from the University of Texas at Dallas. Leonard worked for three years in the petrochemical industry managing large-scale projects spanning complex technical statistical analysis and large-scale engineering design and implementation. As an economist, Leonard specializes in interdisciplinary applications of public, urban and behavioral economics along with advanced spatial and econometric analytic methods. Much of her work focuses on outcomes relevant to low-income populations, including food security, program participation, health and economic inequity. Leonard codirects the Community Assistance Research (CARe) initiative, which seeks to leverage interdisciplinary relationships between academic researchers and community stakeholders with a focus on economic and community development. Leonard is also a research fellow of the Texas Hunger Initiative.

Renita Murimi, Ph.D., associate professor of cybersecurity in the Satish and Yasmin Gupta College of Business, received a doctorate and an M.S. in electrical engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology and a B.E. in electronics and communications from Manipal University. Her research interests are in the areas of cybersecurity, computational social sciences and blockchain. Prior to joining UD, she served as associate professor of computer science at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Oklahoma. 

John Peterson, MA ’12 PhD ’18, manager of interdisciplinary programs for the Braniff Graduate School of Liberal Arts, earned his doctorate in politics from UD in 2018. His doctoral dissertation focused on Montesquieu’s use of barbarian law and its relation to his teachings on commerce, religion and separation of powers in The Spirit of Laws. He has previously taught Principles of American Politics and Philosophy and the Ethical Life at UD as an adjunct professor, and Classical Literature, Ancient History, Rhetoric, and Philosophy and Political Thought at Founders Classical Academy in Leander, Texas. Previously, he earned his M.A. in politics from UD and his B.A. in liberal arts from St. John’s College in Annapolis. At UD, he works on the American Studies, Classical Education, Humanities and Leadership programs.

Kristie Powell, cataloging librarian, earned her Master of Library and Information Science from the University of North Texas in 2018 and her B.S. in education from Texas A&M University San Antonio in 2012. Originally from South Texas, Powell was an educator before moving to Dallas in 2016 with her three dogs, cat and husband, Wesley. Powell joined UD in September 2018. Her responsibilities include fostering access to library materials and maintenance of library bibliographic records. More specifically, Powell works to ensure patrons have accurate and adequate access to the library’s electronic book collection and helps to organize and maintain the library’s existing monograph collection. She can be contacted at for assistance with e-book access issues.

Kevin Saylor, Ph.D., BA '93, affiliate assistant professor of English, earned his doctorate from Indiana University, where he wrote his dissertation on John Keats. A specialist in English Romantic poetry, his interests also include the genre of epic, religious lyric and the songs of Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan. He has published on a range of subjects, including the politics of Margaret Thatcher, ancient epic, Romantic poetry and “Like a Rolling Stone.” Saylor has many years of experience teaching undergraduate and graduate students. 

Shannon Valenzuela, Ph.D., BA ’00, affiliate assistant professor of English and course content manager for the Studies in Catholic Faith and Culture program, earned her doctorate in English literature from the University of Notre Dame in 2007 as a Jacob K. Javits Fellow and her B.A. in English and Classics from UD. Her research interests include medieval theories of translation and memory, classical and medieval models of literary invention, and the text as a mode of both cultural disruption and cultural memory. She has served as an adjunct professor of English for UD over the past several years, but she comes most recently from Great Hearts Irving, where she taught science, European history and literature, and served as the coach of the robotics team. She is a creative entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of her own creative productions group, Areion Media LLC. A professional ghostwriter, editor and script reader, she is also a novelist and an award-winning screenwriter with representation in Hollywood. She is delighted to join UD.

Michael West, Ph.D., BA ’06, affiliate assistant professor of English, earned his doctorate in English from Columbia University, an M.A. from the University of Houston, and a B.A. from UD. His research focuses on Renaissance literature, especially the theater of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. He taught courses in literature, writing and Catholic studies at the University of Houston, Columbia University and Sacred Heart University before coming to UD.

Lauren Younger, instructional services and outreach librarian, received her Master of Library and Information Science from Rutgers University (New Jersey) in 2013 and her B.A. in sociology from Pepperdine University (California) in 2008. Prior to coming to UD, Younger worked for several years at the New York Public Library. Younger moved to Dallas in 2018 with her husband, Jonathan. Her duties as librarian include assisting students and faculty with research and information gathering, the Art of Library Research course, and liaising with academic departments to provide library services, including class visits and resource demonstrations. You can contact her at to schedule library instruction sessions. Younger joined the Cowan-Blakley Memorial Library faculty in August 2018.

“I have been trying to pray for each of you, to pray for our students, to pray for our alumni, and I believe this is a great practice for each of us as teachers: to pray for our students learning in front of us,” said President Thomas S. Hibbs, Ph.D., BA ’82 MA ’83, in his Faculty Day address on Aug. 21. 

“What this university in particular asks of our students is that they engage in deep intellectual work, that they learn how to read big books, and learn how to think deeply about important questions,” he added. “Develop in our students a love of learning if they don’t have these habits already.”

In the photo: Front row: Sister Elinor Gardner, Tammy Leonard, Brittany Landrum, Jonathan Dannatt, Christina Hayes Haley, Renita Murimi Middle row: Ali Dadpay, James DeMasi, Michael West, Shannon Valenzuela, Lauren Younger, Christi Ivers Back row: Jeffrey Lehman, John Peterson, Kevin Saylor, Janet Hendrickson, Kristie Powell, Cara Jacocks