Your AU Faculty
College of Liberal Arts
- Curt Lowe, PhD - Dean
- Brian Burmeister, MFA
- Alexander Cohen, PhD
- Clarke Christian, MA
- Gary Deckard, EdD
- David Deifell, PhD
- Ted Ellis, JD
- Rob Engelson, DMA
- Ed Gall, MS
- Gary Heath, PhD
- Sr. Theresa Judge, MA
- Matthew Lewerenz
- Sr. William McCure, MA
- Anna Pagnucci, MFA
- Chase Pielak, PhD
- Carl Robinson, PhD
- Tamara Schnepel, ABD
- Michael Wiseman, PhD
William C. "Curt" Lowe is Dean of Ashford's College of Liberal Arts and Professor of History. He came to the institution in 1980 and served as a full-time faculty member, chair of the Social Science Division, and Academic Dean before assuming his present position. He served as self-study coordinator for the 1995 and 2006 comprehensive accreditation visits. He has taught a variety of history courses at Ashford, as well as interdisciplinary courses on the Civil War in American Culture and, with Dr. Gary Heath, Race Relations in America. A native of Savannah, Georgia, Lowe taught at Auburn University, Marshall University, and Black Hawk College before joining Ashford University. He earned an Artium Baccalaureatus (AB) degree from the College of William and Mary and Master of Arts and PhD degrees from Emory University. He has published articles on British and American history in a number of scholarly journals and authored more than a hundred articles for reference works, including "The New Oxford Dictionary of National Biography." He is also the author of "Blessings of Liberty: Safeguarding Civil Rights," a book for middle-school students. In 2006-07, he received a research grant from the State Historical Society of Iowa, and spent a sabbatical semester researching Civil War commemoration in the state. He is married to Flora Lowe, Ashford's Library Director. Watching Ashford sports teams is a favorite pastime.
Read more about Dr. Lowe.
A former high school English teacher and track and field coach, Burmeister’s degrees include a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts from Ashford University, a Master of Arts in English from Iowa State University, and, most recently, a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Environment from Iowa State University. While at Iowa State, Burmeister co-authored the non-fiction play, Farmscape, under the direction of Iowa’s poet laureate, Mary Swander. The play, which documents the changes made over the past half-century and still being made to rural life in the Midwest, has been performed in various venues throughout Iowa. A passionate believer in the power of words, Burmeister teaches Composition and Speech courses and is advisor to Ashford’s student newspaper, The Clarion.
Alexander Cohen received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from New York University and his PhD from the University of Iowa. His dissertation, which explores how weather can drive political behavior, has been the source of two publications. He joined Ashford in 2011 and teaches political science and sociology.
A native of Clinton, Iowa, Christian teaches English classes in Ashfords College of Liberal Arts. He attended Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts and earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from Mount St. Clare College in 2001; he earned his Master of Arts degree in developmental studies from National-Louis University in 2003.
Gary Deckard is originally from Ohio, and has a passion for education. His experience includes working for traditional colleges and universities, as well as private for-profit educational institutions. Gary has a Master’s Degree in Religious Education from Loyola University of New Orleans, and a Doctoral Degree in Education from the Graduate Theological Foundation. Gary enjoys camping, kayaking, hiking, fitness, attending sporting events; he also collects Steinbach nutcrackers and religious artifacts as a hobby. He is committed to helping students learn important life lessons, and wants to be an active participant in his students’ success.
Receiving his PhD in Communication Studies (concentrating in Rhetoric and Media) from The University of Iowa in 2003 and his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Speech Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1994, David Deifell has taught at a number of different institutions of higher education all over the country, including Drake University, East Tennessee State University, Appalachian State University, Lees-McRae College, University of Puget Sound, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and University of Iowa. Starting as an Associate Professor of Speech in the fall of 2010, Deifell spent most of 2009 and 2010 working with Ashfords online programs as an Instructional Specialist. In his new position, Deifell will primarily be responsible for teaching and developing the Speech and Communication courses and program. His research interests engage a number of different areas, such as American public address, cultural studies, rhetorical theory and criticism, media studies, historiography, performance studies, social movements, and political communication.
Ted D. Ellis is an Assistant Professor in the field of Criminal Justice. Ted received a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in history from Northwest Nazarene College and a Juris Doctor (JD) from the University of Idaho. Prior to joining the faculty at Ashford University, Ted worked as an attorney for several years. It is Ted’s aspiration to enrich the quality and scope of his academic instruction in the field of criminal justice. To this end, he has completed several graduate courses through the University of Cincinnati’s Graduate School of Criminal Justice, where he is currently enrolled as a graduate student. He and his wife enjoy reading and spending time together with their toddler son. Ted is passionate about teaching and seeks to inspire each student to engage in the pursuit of course mastery with critical thinking and reflective analysis. As a particular point of emphasis, he seeks to instill an appreciation for the centrality of procedural and substantive due process in criminal case dispositions.
Engelson's degrees include a Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) in Choral Music from Arizona State University, a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Choral Conducting from the University of Minnesota, and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Music Education and German from Augsburg College. He began teaching at Ashford University in 1995, and currently teaches all music and music education-related courses; interdisciplinary courses including World Musics, Music / Art / Literature of the Romantic Era, Fine Arts Seminar, Shakespeare and Music, all Scholars Institute courses since its inception (2002), and Freshman Experience. His words of wisdom to students are: "Jump in with both feet, get to know as many of the faculty and staff as you can, get involved in student activities, and do your work on time!"
After growing up in eastern Pennsylvania, Ed Gall pursued a Bachelor of Science and an Master of Science in Environmental Engineering at Wilkes University (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) and Clemson University (Clemson, South Carolina). Following his time at Clemson, Gall spent four years as a research technician at the University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Laboratory studying the movement of pollutants in soil and groundwater. He then moved to St. Louis to pursue another academic passion, theology, and completed a Master of Divinity degree at Covenant Theological Seminary. His first experience with teaching was at a community college, where he taught chemistry. Gall joined Ashford in 2005 as an adjunct faculty member, teaching philosophy and religion courses both in the traditional program and in the online accelerated program. He became a full-time faculty member in the fall of 2006. When not involved with teaching religion, philosophy, and physics courses at Ashford, Gall spends his time involved with his church and also enjoys reading, walking, cooking, and attending Ashford athletic events. His advice for students: "First, practice putting yourselves in someone else's shoes and trying to think like they do. This will definitely help you understand others better, and in doing this, help you to better understand yourself. Second, to all my physics students, math isn't all that bad - it is a language that opens a door to a deeper understanding of the universe around you."
Dr. Gary Heath earned a Bachelor of Arts, a Master of Arts, and a PhD from University of California at Berkeley. He has contributed over 20 years of service to Ashford. "I feel privileged to serve at Ashford. The small classes and my passion for sociology and liberal arts make an excellent chemistry for committed, effective teaching. I love to do ongoing research for my classes." Heath also loves to read and write. His recent works include a book of short stories about Ashford University and the co-authored "Gifts From Decorah Laurah," a novel constructed around a plot featuring Abraham Lincoln and the Winnebago Indians of the Minnesota Territory in the 1860s. These books have "added zest and growth to my recent professional and creative life." His Harper and Row book, "The New Teacher," articulates his educational philosophy of social scientific inquiry and cultural progressivism. Heath's courses include: Racial and Ethnic Groups, Public Policy and Social Services, Cross-Cultural Perspectives, Social Justice and Society, and Sociology of Sport.
A member of the teaching faculty at Ashford University since 1993, Judge earned a Master of Arts in English Literature from Western Illinois University. She also has a Bachelor of Arts in History from Marycrest College, and an Associates of Arts from Mount St. Clare College. Judge has taken students on a London spring break trip every year for the last 23 years. Read more about Theresa Judge.
Though originally from the South, Matthew Lewerenz is a Midwestern adoptee and long-time Clinton resident, and earned his Bachelor of Arts in English and Liberal Arts from Ashford University, where he received the Joan Walsh Richeson Award for Excellence in Liberal Arts in 2006. He is currently completing his Master of Arts in English at Western Illinois University, and, pursuant to his pursuit of a PhD, Matthew is a Clugston Teaching Fellow at Ashford, instructing undergraduate English courses while completing his doctoral degree. His academic interests include biographical literary criticism, with a special interest in the life and work of Charles Dickens, as well as a broad range of liberal arts interests including history, philosophy, art, music, new media, and cultural studies. He thinks that it is somewhat awkward to write an autobiography, and also that his two sons, Elijah and Moses, are, to borrow from Ben Jonson, his best pieces of poetry.
Sister William McCue, OSF, is the Chairperson of the Philosophy Department and the Religious Studies Department. She was awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Creighton University and a Master of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame. She is a member of the Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton, Iowa. Sr. William is the longest standing faculty member at Ashford University, with 44 years of service. Read more about Sister McCue.
Anna Pagnucci is an artist as well as teacher. She paints large format street scenes, which combine the regionalist feel of Hopper with the abstraction of Pollock. Pagnucci earned her Bachelors degree in Art, Summa Cum Laude, with a minor in Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Her Masters degree in Art History, which focused on Baroque, Italian Renaissance, Gothic architecture, and Photography, and resulted in a published thesis on Velazquez, is from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her Master of Fine Arts is in Painting and Drawing from The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Pagnuccis artwork is part of various private and public collections, including The Racine Art Museum, We-Energies, the Kenosha Care Center, and the Hayward Memorial Hospital. Her gallery representation includes Monforts Gallery, Northern Lights Gallery, Portal Wisconsin through the Wisconsin Arts Board, and the Stuart Saatchi Gallery of London, England. Her art historical publications include: Light, Color, Glass: Pattern of Illumination and Bacchus, God of Pleasure and Excess. Pagnucci has had television interviews regarding her art on ACTV25 Channel 6 in Chicago and Artscape in Wisconsin, as well as radio interviews on WSUP.
Chase grew up in Southern California and attended Azusa Pacific University majoring in biblical studies and English as an undergraduate. He then attended Fuller Seminary and received a master’s degree in theology before turning to Claremont Graduate University to earn master’s and doctoral degrees in English. His specialties include nineteenth-century British, nineteenth-century American, and early modern British literature. A focus on animal studies led to his dissertation, Remembering Animals in Romantic Literature, the first chapter of which, “Roast Lamb,” is forthcoming in Nineteenth Century Studies. He has also published articles on Jane Eyre in More Than Thought and Daniel Deronda in Victorian Literature and Culture, entitled respectively, “Heroine and Hyena” and “Hunting Gwendolen.” He is currently working on articles about animal imagery in John Clare’s poetry and a certain anemone in House of Mirth. Chase is excited to engage students at Ashford with critical and popular culture perspectives on topics ranging from reading Lady Gaga to deconstructing Shakespeare.
Carl Robinson received his Bachelor of Arts in English from Randolph-Macon College, his Master of Arts in English from Virginia Tech, and his PhD in English from Kent State. His dissertation was entitled: "The Modern Language of Ring Sport: A Cultural Phenomenon and Its Literary Forms." He teaches Composition, American Lit, British Lit, African-American Lit, Business Writing, Business Speaking, and Speech.
Read more about Dr. Robinson.
Tamara Schnepel has been with Ashford University since August 2008 and teaches several different courses, primarily in the criminal justice area. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Marycrest International University, Masters' degrees in Criminal Justice and Juvenile Justice from St. Ambrose University, and is currently ABD for her PhD in General Psychology at Kaplan University. She worked at Skyline Center, Inc., for five years, the Clinton County Mental Health Department, Community Care., Inc. as a social worker, the State of Iowa, and the Salvation Army Homeless Shelter in Davenport, IA. Most recently, she has been teaching in the criminal justice department at Kaplan University.
When asked what advice she can give students, she says, "The best thing that any student can do is maintain an open line of communication between themselves and their instructor; as instructors they are not only here to teach, they are here to help them succeed in the goals they have set for themselves. By maintaining an open line of communication, instructors can help a student through a difficult situation or assignment and get them one step closer to the goal of a higher education."
Dr. Michael Wiseman teaches resident and online courses in politics, history, government, public policy, and environmental studies. He has a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies from the University of Wyoming, a Master of Arts in American Studies from the University of Wyoming, and a PhD in American Studies from the University of Iowa. Some of the classes he teaches include: Environment and the Human Spirit, Environmental Policy, Mississippi River: Environment, History and Politics, American National Government, and Survey of Regional Geography. His words of wisdom for students are: "Nurture your relationships because we are all connected to many different worlds in ways we have yet to imagine."