News and Events
Pepperdine Welcomes New Faculty for 2012
From studio art, to business strategy, to teacher education, the new faculty at Pepperdine's Seaver College and Graziadio School of Business and Management come from a wide range of academic practices and backgrounds.
Meet the new tenure-track professors in the slideshow and learn more about new visiting and adjunct faculty below.
New Tenure-Track and Visiting Faculty of 2012
New Visiting Professors and Instructors:
Sarah Ballard, visiting instructor of communication
- Ballard earned her master's degree from the Professional Program in Community Counseling, Denver Seminary
- Ballard is a certified therapist, with experience counseling children and adolescents and working at adoption centers
- "I love their [the students'] 'a-ha' moments, when they realize that the subject can and does have a real impact on their own lives," she says. "And, I love getting to know the students. Teaching communication, it is definitely a perk that we have the chance to focus on practicing communication in class with each other!"
Katie Frye, visiting assistant professor of English, Seaver College
- B.A. in English from David Lipscomb University; M.A. and Ph.D. in English from UC Santa Barbara
- She brings teaching experience from Brooks Institute and her postgraduate alma mater
- Her short story, "Now, Virginia," was published in Literary Mama
Alexis Gidley, visiting instructor of sports medicine, Seaver College
- B.S. and M.S. in exercise and sport science from the University of Utah
- Gidley taught biomechanics, exercise physiology, and human physiology at the University of Massachusetts and the University of Utah"
- Math and physics are important, but biomechanics is more about thinking, playing, and synthesizing. It is movement in which we are the most interested," she says of her subject.
- "You can think about it walking to class, running on the beach, mountain biking in the canyons, skiing in the mountains, wherever. We are actually experts in some subjects, like walking (those of us who can walk a few steps without falling down, that is), or we can become experts with practice, like skiing. In the classroom I like taking that sense of experience we have and showing how physics can explain and at times dictate why we do what we do."
Ellie Grano, visiting assistant professor of mathematics, Seaver College
- B.S. in applied mathematics from North Carolina State University; M.A. and Ph.D. in mathematics from UC Santa Barbara
- She has worked as an instructor of record and a teaching assistant at her postgraduate alma mater
- Grano loved math from childhood. "My parents would give me multiplication tables to keep me quiet in restaurants," she remembers. "And when I had trouble sleeping I'd try to see what number divides in to the number on the clock, before the numbers changed."
- She thinks of math as being like a puzzle to solve. "Or a new language with numbers," Grano adds.
Sienna Hopkins, visiting instructor of Italian, Seaver College
- B.A. in international studies from Pepperdine; M.A. in Italian literature from UCLA
- She has taught Italian at CSU Long Beach and UCLA, and worked as assistant director at Pepperdine's Office of International Student Services
- She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at UCLA
- Hopkins fell in love with the language as a Pepperdine undergrad when she went to the international program in Florence. "The accent just for some reason came naturally to me," she remembers. "It took me a while to realize that I was better than I thought I was because there are so many dialects in Italy. And so I wouldn't understand somebody and wouldn't realize they were speaking another dialect of Italian. But they are so patient and encouraging."
- Hopkins adds, "Italian is the most beautiful language in the world. It is so rich and vast with expression and heart."
Brian Norcross, visiting instructor of communication and debate, Seaver College
- B.A. in communication studies from CSU Long Beach; M.A. in communication from the University of Wyoming
- He is Pepperdine's new debate coach; he was the assistant debate coach at Southern Illinois University and the University of Wyoming
- Norcross is currently pursuing his Ph.D. at Southern Illinois University
- "The first class I ever sat in in my college career was an argumentation debate class and I think that's influenced every other class that I've taken," he says. "It gave me confidence, the ability to think critically."
Monica Osborne, visiting assistant professor of Jewish studies, Seaver College
- B.A. in English from Vanguard University; M.A. in English from Loyola Marymount University; and a Ph.D. in English from Purdue University
- Osborne has taught at UCLA and Loyola Marymount University
- She has a book manuscript in progress titled, The Midrashic Impulse and the Contemporary Literary Response to Trauma
Ben Pilat, visiting assistant professor of theatre, Seaver College
B.A. in fine arts from Emporia State University; M.A. in fine arts from Boston University
- Pilat has taught lighting and stage design at the Chaminade University of Honolulu and Boston University
- Was the Resident Lighting Designer/Lighting Supervisor for the Los Angeles Ballet
- "In stage design, we are training students for careers where they work collaboratively, where they learn to appreciate the world around them, and see and create art and beauty, and have an appreciation for the jobs that other people have. So we're really setting them up for success whether they go on to a theatre career or not," he says.
- His dream project at Pepperdine would be to stage the musical Urinetown. "It's not very quotable," he laughs, of his choice. "But it's a great social commentary on a lack of resources and environmental responsibility, as well as being a fun musical. I'd love to be doing shows that really affect people and have an important message."
Alison Stewart, visiting assistant professor of Hispanic studies, Seaver College
- B.A. in Spanish and philosophy from the University of San Diego; J.D. from the University of the Pacific; M.A. in Spanish Peninsular literature from San Diego State University; and a Ph.D. in Hispanic languages and literatures from UCLA
- Stewart has lectured at Pepperdine and UCLA, teaching Spanish language
- Her work appears in Lucero; she has an article in progress titled, "Sor Juana's Defense of Women's Liberties in La respuesta"
Elizabeth VanderVen, visiting assistant professor of Chinese and East Asian history, Seaver College
- B.A. in Asian studies from Vassar College; M.A. in Asian studies from the University of Oregon; and Ph.D. from UCLA
- She has taught at Rutgers University, Reed College, the University of Chicago, and UC Riverside
- VanderVan has a book manuscript currently under contract with the University of British Columbia Press
Abigail Williams, visiting instructor of communication, Seaver College
- B.A. in speech communication from the University of Alabama; M.A. in human communication and social influence from Georgia State University
- She has written for ThePermutation.com
- Williams has won awards for her volunteer work with those overcoming abusive relationships
- "Mahatma Ghandi once said, 'You have to be the change you want to see in the world,'" Williams reflects. "And I love the fact that I can empower students to become advocates on their own behalf and on behalf of their communities. I have the opportunity to help students test their beliefs, and then they go out in to the world and share their beliefs with others once they've been tested."