Honors Faculty

The Frederik Meijer Honors College features eight permanent full-time faculty, three half-time Faculty-in-Residence, the Meijer Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship & Innovation, and dozens of exceptional faculty drawn from departments and programs across campus.

Full-time Honors Faculty

These faculty all teach the majority of their classes in Honors and have their offices in the Niemeyer suite.

Coeli Fitpatrick headshot

Coeli Fitzpatrick

Chair and Professor of Philosophy in Honors

Office Address: 125 Niemeyer

Phone: (616) 331-3748

Email: [email protected]

Coeli Fitzpatrick is Professor of Philosophy in the Frederik Meijer Honors College and Chair of the Honors Faculty. Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Professor Fitzpatrick received her B.A. in Philosophy from Regis University in Denver, Colorado and her Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Binghamton. She teaches several courses in the program, including the first-year sequence The Middle East Beyond the Headlines and a Junior Seminar on Islamophobia. Her publications include the award winning edited volume Muhammad in History, Thought and Culture as well as writings on Edward Said and Orientalism. Professor Fitzpatrick's current research focuses on the transmission of Arab intellectual history in the West, Muslim Spain and Orientalism.

Ellen Adams headshot

Ellen Adams

Associate Professor of Art History, Honors College

Office Address: 126 Niemeyer

Phone: (616) 331-8134

Email: [email protected]

Ellen Adams is Associate Professor of Art History in the Frederik Meijer Honors College. Originally from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Professor Adams received her B.A. in Art History from the University of Delaware, her M.A. from Hunter College (City University of New York), and her Ph.D. in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. She teaches several courses in the program, including the first-year interdisciplinary sequence Dangerous Ideas (previously Europe: The Center and the Margins), Art and Money, and Modern Art and Modernity. Her publications and presentations concentrate primarily on modern and contemporary artists. Prof. Adams’ current research project focuses on American women artists active during the New Deal.

Rosalynn Bliss headshot

Rosalynn Bliss

Meijer Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Office Address: 129 Niemeyer

Phone: (616) 331-2493

Email: [email protected]

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss became the first female mayor of Grand Rapids when she took office on January 1, 2016. She previously served as a Second Ward City Commissioner for 10 years. She earned bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Criminal Justice from the University of South Alabama and a master’s in Social Work from Michigan State University. She has over twenty years of experience in the fields of domestic violence and child welfare. She is past president of the Michigan Municipal League and serves on the boards of the Downtown Development Authority, Experience Grand Rapids, Convention Arena Authority, Economic Club of Grand Rapids, Mayor’s Innovation Project and Interurban Transit Partnership, and other organizations. Mayor Bliss has been recognized and honored locally as well as statewide for her commitment, dedication and work in the field of child abuse and neglect and for her leadership in the community. She teaches HNR 312, a junior seminar on leadership and problem-solving.

Jeremiah Cataldo headshot

Jeremiah Cataldo

Associate Professor of History in Honors

Office Address: 121 Niemeyer

Phone: (616) 331-3470

Email: [email protected]

Jeremiah Cataldo is Associate Professor of History in the Frederik Meijer Honors College. He earned his Ph.D. from Drew University, a Master in Philosophy from Drew University, a Master in Ministry from Bethel College, and a B.A. in Religious Studies from Bethel College. He is the author of numerous books and journal articles, including Biblical Terror (Bloomsbury, 2017) and A Social-Political History of Monotheism (Routledge, 2018). A strong supporter of cultivating well-roundedness in mind and body, he enjoys woodworking, backpacking, running ultramarathons, and training in Taekwondo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He teaches Alliance and Conflict, Prophetic Critique, Terror of Monotheism, and Textual Tease.


Professor Maria Cimitile

Maria Cimitile

Professor of Philosophy in Honors

Office Address: 132 Niemeyer

Phone: (616) 331-2838

Email: [email protected]

Maria Cimitile is Professor of Philosophy in the Frederik Meijer Honors College. Professor Cimitile earned her A.B from the College of the Holy Cross, her M.A from Villanova University, and her Ph.D. from the University of Memphis. Trained in European philosophy, her scholarly and teaching interests are in feminist philosophy, political theory and logical thinking. Professor Cimitile is a GVSU award-winning faculty member for teaching excellence and has held a number of leadership positions at the university. Professor Cimitile teaches first year interdisciplinary sequence The Powers that Divide Us (with Professor Cataldo).

Kurt Ellenberger headshot

Kurt Ellenberger

Professor of Music in Honors

Office Address: 123 Niemeyer

Phone: (616) 331-8075

Email: [email protected]

Kurt Ellenberger is a pianist, composer, and author whose work includes music for a wide range of ensembles. His writings include a jazz theory book, other pedagogical writings, and many essays that appear in his arts blog entitled Also Sprach FraKathustra, which was published by The Huffington Post–Arts and Culture until 2017. He is currently a Contributing Writer and Editor at All About Jazz, and is also the Managing Editor for the International Association of Schools of Jazz’s “Journal of Applied Jazz Research."

He has recorded on Innova Recordings, Ghostly International, and Challenge-A Records (the Netherlands), among others, and has been hailed as "a gifted pianist who combines the lyricism of Bill Evans with the energy of Keith Jarrett." He was a member of the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble, whose recordings of Terry Riley’s “IN C: Remixed” and Steve Reich’s “Music for 18 Musicians” were featured in The New York Times, as well as in many of the nation’s leading publications, including The New Yorker. Ellenberger is a faculty member in the Frederik Meijer Honors College at Grand Valley State University, where he has been teaching since 1999. He is also a Fulbright Scholar who taught in Austria at the Kunstuniversität Graz (University of the Arts in Graz).

Rob Franciosi headshot

Rob Franciosi

Professor of English and Faculty-in-Residence in Honors

Office Address: 131 Niemeyer

Email: [email protected]

Rob Franciosi earned his BA from New York University and his MA and PhD from the University of Iowa. His current research interests center on American cultural responses to the Holocaust. He is completing a study of John Hersey's epic novel of the Warsaw Ghetto, tentatively titled Imagining the Ghetto: Hersey's The Wall and American Holocaust Memory. He has also escorted groups of Honors students to Germany and Poland as part of a seminar on Holocaust museums, memorials, and sites.

Gary Greer headshot

Gary Greer

Professor of Biology and Faculty-in-Residence in Honors

Office: 127 HON

Email: [email protected]

Gary Greer earned his BA from the University of Northern Colorado, his MA from Humboldt State University, and his PhD from Ohio University. His research interests span a wide range of topics in plant ecology all centered on evolutionary process:

  1. Factors influencing the structure of epiphytic communities;
  2. Pteridophyte (seedless vascular plant) biology, ecology & evolution;
  3. Invasive species ecology (principally that of Ailanthus altissima (“Tree-of-Heaven”)).
headshot of Barry Kanpol

Barry Kanpol

Professor of Education in Honors

Office Address: 134 Niemeyer

Phone: (616) 331-3219

Email: kanpolb@gvsu.edu

A native Australian, Barry Kanpol earned his B.A. in English from Tel Aviv University in Israel before going on to earn an M.A. and Ph.D. in Education from Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. He was a professor and dean at Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne from 2003 to 2016. In 2016, he joined the Grand Valley faculty as Dean of the College of Education. Over the years, Dr, Kanpol has published over a dozen books, either as author or editor, including Critical Pedagogy: An Introduction (Bergin & Garvey, 1994), Teacher Education and Urban Education (Hampton Press, 2002), Foundations of Cultural Wards in Education (Kendall/Hunt, 2015), and Introduction to Community Engaged Impact (Peter Lang, 2022--with Danielle Lake). In 2021, Dr. Kanpol joined the faculty of Honors, where he'll teach project-based courses in wicked community engagement.

Joel Stillerman headshot

Joel Stillerman

Professor of Sociology and Faculty-in-Residence in Honors

Office Address: 124 Niemeyer

Phone: (616) 331-3129

Email: [email protected]

Joel is a Professor of Sociology and Faculty-in-Residence in the Honors College and is originally from Chicago. He received his BA (1986) in Philosophy and Political Science at Bennington College and PhD (1998) in Sociology and Historical Studies at the New School for Social Research. Prior to arriving to Grand Valley, he taught at the University of Arizona. Joel co-teaches (with Prof. Heather Van Wormer) an introductory sequence, "Culture, Power, and Inequality," a junior seminar, "The Sociology of Consumption," and several courses in the Sociology Department. He is the author of The Sociology of Consumption: A Global Approach (Polity, 2015) and coeditor of Qué significa el trabajo hoy?: Continuidad y cambio en una sociedad global (Catalonia, 2012). Joel's publications on labor activism, consumer culture, and middle classes in Chile and Latin America appear in Poetics, Latin American Politics and Society, Journal of Consumer Culture, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, and other journals and edited volumes.

headshot of Melba Velez Ortiz

Melba Velez Ortiz

Professor of Communications in Honors

Office Address: 130 Niemeyer

Phone: (616) 331-3469

Email: [email protected]

Dr. Vélez Ortiz's areas of research are communication ethics and global environmental communication. Her work examines the ways in which the long-term success of conservation efforts depend upon fundamental shifts in cultural values, in aesthetic and moral communication, and in shared understandings of how the individual fits into social and ecological communities. In addition, Dr. Vélez Ortiz has researched and published in the area of Latin-American/Caribbean/Latina-o philosophy and intellectual history. She has published numerous articles and book chapters, and in 2020 her book, Maatian Ethics in a Communication Context, was published by Routledge Press.

Peter Wampler headshot

Peter Wampler

Professor of Geology in Honors

Office Address:  134 Niemeyer

Phone: (616) 331-3302

Email: [email protected]

Peter Wampler is a broadly trained environmental geologist and geomorphologist with a background in both academic and government regulation of mining and storm water. He received his PhD in 2004 for work on human- and climatic-induced changes along the Clackamas River in Oregon. As a professor at GVSU, he has worked with undergraduate and graduate students on applied geoscience research: 1) evaluating GVSU’s storm water runoff footprint and assisting in designing Best Management Practices (BMP) for GVSU; 2) investigating water resources and groundwater contamination pathways in rural Haiti; 3) evaluating human impacts to river systems resulting from dams and other structures; and 4) Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to create household radon hazard maps for Michigan using geologic data.  He has traveled to Haiti numerous times since 2007 to work on water resources issues and safe water interventions. Since 2016 he's been leading groups of GVSU students on a 4-week study abroad to Haiti.

Honors Associates

Honors also draws many exceptional faculty from around campus.

Majd Al-Mallah headshot

Majd Al-Mallah

Modern Languages & Literatures

[email protected]

Fall 2022 and Winter 2023: Middle East Beyond the Headlines

David Alvarez headshot

David Alvarez

English Language & Literature

[email protected]

Winter 2022: World's Deadliest Border

Brad Ambrose headshot

Brad Ambrose


[email protected] 

Winter 2023: Human Body in Motion

Karen Amisi headshot

Karen Amisi


[email protected]

Fall 2022: The Healing Power of Plants

Steeve Buckridge headshot

Steeve Buckridge


[email protected]

Fall 2023 and Winter 2024: Africa Seen Through African Eyes

Meghan Cai headshot

Meghan Cai

Modern Languages & Literatures


Fall 2021: East Asia & the World

Isabelle Cata headshot

Isabelle Cata

Modern Languages & Literatures


Winter 2022: Spain in Europe

Grace Coolidge headshot

Grace Coolidge


[email protected] 

Fall 2022 and Winter 2023: Spain in Europe

David Crane headshot

David Crane


[email protected]

Fall 2022 and Winter 2023: Worlds of Greece and Rome

Jason Crouthamel headshot

Jason Crouthamel


[email protected]

Winter 2022: The Holocaust

David Eick, MLL

David Eick

Modern Languages & Literatures

[email protected]

Fall 2023: Dangerous Ideas

Elizabeth Flandreau


[email protected]

Winter 2023: Brains in Question

Elizabeth Gansen headshot

Elizabeth Gansen

Modern Languages & Literature

[email protected]

Fall 2021 and Winter 2022: The Sound of Ethics

Charles Ham headshot

Charles Ham


[email protected]

Winter 2021: Worlds of Greece and Rome

Chris Harper headshot

Christopher Harper


[email protected]

Fall 2022: Principles of Financial Accounting (Honors)

Jason Herlands headshot

Jason Herlands

Modern Languages & Literatures

[email protected]

Fall 2022: East Asia & the World

Tara Hefferan headshot

Tara Hefferan


[email protected]

Winter 2023: Water for a Changing World

Naoki Kanaboshi headshot

Naoki Kanaboshi

Criminal Justice

[email protected]

Fall 2022 and Winter 2023: Culture, Power, & Inequality

John Kilbourne headshot

John Kilbourne

Movement Science

[email protected]

Fall 2022: Games in the Circumpolar World

Ryan Lafferty headshot

Ryan Lafferty


[email protected]

Fall 2022 and Winter 2023: Design Thinking for Social Product Innovation

Paul Lane headshot

Paul Lane


[email protected]

Fall 2022 and Winter 2023: Design Thinking for Social Product Innovation

Yan Liang headshot

Yan Liang

Modern Languages & Literatures

[email protected]

Fall 2022 and Winter 2023: East Asia & the World

Leifa Mayers headshot

Leifa Mayers

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

[email protected]

Fall 2023: Civil Rights & Social Movements

Allison Metz

Music, Theatre, and Dance

[email protected]

Fall 2022 and Winter 2023: American Voices & Visions

Charles Pazdernik headshot

Charles Pazdernik


[email protected]

Fall 2022 and Winter 2023: Worlds of Greece and Rome

Tom Pentecost headshot

Tom Pentecost


[email protected]

Winter 2023: Molecules that Matter

Gabriella Pozzi headshot

Gabriela Pozzi

Modern Languages & Literatures

[email protected]

Winter 2023: Spain in Europe

Eric Ramsson headshot

Eric Ramsson

Biomedical Sciences

[email protected]

Fall 2022: Hollywood Science

Chemistry Professor Christine Rener

Christine Rener

Chemistry and Faculty Teaching & Learning Center

[email protected]

Fall 2022 and Winter 2023: Engines of Innovation

Jeremy Robinson headshot

Jeremy Robinson

Modern Languages & Literatures

[email protected]

Winter 2023: East Asia & the World

Medar Serrata headshot

Medar Serrata

Modern Languages & Literatures

[email protected]

Fall 2021 and Winter 2022: Making of Latin America

Eric Snyder headshot

Eric Snyder


[email protected]

Fall 2022: Water for a Changing World

David Stark headshot

David Stark


[email protected]

Fall 2021 and Winter 2022: Making of Latin America

Steve Tripp headshot

Steve Tripp


[email protected] 

Fall 2022 and Winter 2023: American Voices & Visions

Dwayne Tunstall headshot

Dwayne Tunstall


[email protected]

Fall 2021 and Winter 2022: Alliance and Conflict

John Uglietta headshot

John Uglietta


[email protected]

Winter 2023: Food, Culture, Conscience

John Weber, Geology

John Weber


[email protected]

Fall 2023 and Winter 2024: Africa Seen Through African Eyes

Diane Wright

Modern Languages and Literatures

[email protected]

Fall 2022: Spain in Europe

Page last modified August 12, 2022