The Frederik Meijer Honors College features seven 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.
Chair and Professor of Philosophy in Honors
Office Address: 125 Niemeyer
Phone: (616) 331-3748
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.
Associate Professor of Art History, Honors College
Office Address: 126 Niemeyer
Phone: (616) 331-8134
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.
Meijer Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Office Address: 129 Niemeyer
Phone: (616) 331-2493
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.
Associate Professor of History in Honors
Office Address: 121 Niemeyer
Phone: (616) 331-3470
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 of Music in Honors
Office Address: 123 Niemeyer
Phone: (616) 331-8075
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).
Professor of English and Faculty-in-Residence in Honors
Office Address: 131 Niemeyer
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.
Professor of Biology and Faculty-in-Residence in Honors
Office: 127 HON
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:
- Factors influencing the structure of epiphytic communities;
- Pteridophyte (seedless vascular plant) biology, ecology & evolution;
- Invasive species ecology (principally that of Ailanthus altissima (“Tree-of-Heaven”)).
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.
Professor of Sociology and Faculty-in-Residence in Honors
Office Address: 124 Niemeyer
Phone: (616) 331-3129
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.
Melba Velez Ortiz
Professor of Communications in Honors
Office Address: 130 Niemeyer
Phone: (616) 331-3469
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.
Professor of Geology in Honors
Office Address: 134 Niemeyer
Phone: (616) 331-3302
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 also draws many exceptional faculty from around campus.