Faculty - Humanities

Medaille Student running science experiment

Mark LavatelliMark Lavatelli, M.A., M.F.A

Professor & Interim Chair, Humanities Department
Mark Lavatelli has taught at Medaille since 1988. He holds a bachelor's degree in art history from Cornell University, a master's in art history from the University of Illinois, and a master of fine arts in painting and drawing from the University of New Mexico. Lavatelli has been a resident artist at the Jentel Foundation in Wyoming, at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, New Mexico, and at the Saltonstall Foundation in Ithaca, NY. Lavatelli uses hot-wax encaustic technique. His work is included in numerous collections, from Dallas to Denver to Tokyo. In 2006, his paintings were featured together with those of the well-known American modernist Charles Burchfield at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center in Buffalo. A freelance art writer, Lavatelli is co-author of Richard Diebenkorn in New Mexico, published by the Museum of New Mexico Press, and he has published more than two dozen art reviews in The Buffalo News and Artvoice. Lavatelli maintains a personal Web site.

Douglas Anderson, M.F.A.

Associate Professor, Humanities Department
Douglas Anderson joined Medaille College in 1985, having taught previously at Texas A&I University after getting an undergraduate degree in history from the University of Texas and a graduate degree in fine arts from the University of Massachusetts. In 1993, Random House published his novel, First and Ten. Anderson has also published in Texas Monthly, Kirkus Reviews, and small press magazines; he has edited legal and juvenile books.

During a sabbatical year in 1998, Anderson taught himself web technologies, database programming, and web server management. He developed webs that replaced printed textbooks and all the rest of the paper in his courses and created an online community of learners supplementing his face-to-face classes.

During a sabbatical year in 2008, Anderson went to the Netherlands to research the life of Antony van Leeuwenhoek. This linen merchant and civil servant from Delft developed a tiny single-lens microscope that let him become the first human to see the hidden world of microorganisms. His fifty years of letters recorded his observations of protozoa, bacteria, spermatozoa, and red blood cells flowing through capillaries, among many other things. Anderson got a grant the following year to develop the web at LensOnLeeuwenhoek.net, powered by the Drupal content management system. Since then, spending every summer in the Netherlands, Anderson has been mining 17th century Dutch archives. His web tries to answer the question, What do you do when you see things that no one has ever seen before?

 Alan Bigelow
Alan Bigelow, Ph.D.

Professor, Humanities Department
Dr. Alan Bigelow (abigelow@medaille.edu) has taught in the Humanities Department at Medaille since 1992, with experience in creative writing, composition, literature, and digital literature. He has a Ph.D. and M.A. in English from SUNY at Buffalo, and an M.A. in English (Creative Writing Emphasis) from the University of Colorado in Boulder. His B.A. is from Bard College.

Alan Bigelow was the 2011 winner of the BIPVAL international Prix de Poésie Média. His work, installations, and conversations about digital fiction and poetry have appeared in SFMOMA, the Library of Congress, Turbulence.org, Rhizome.org, Los Angeles Center for Digital Arts, The National Art Center: Tokyo, MLA 2012-2013, FAD, VAD, FreeWaves.org, The Museum of New Art (MONA, Detroit), Art Tech Media, FILE 2007-2013, Blackbird, Drunken Boat, IDEAS, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, and many other places worldwide. 

Recently, in addition to teaching full-time at Medaille College, he was a visiting online lecturer in Creative Writing and New Media at De Montfort University, UK. You can see Alan Bigelow's work at http://www.webyarns.com

Terri BorchersTerri Borchers, Ph.D., J.D.

Associate Professor, Humanities Department
Dr. Terri Borchers has taught in the Humanities Department since 2002. With graduate degrees from the Northwestern School of Law, Cleveland State University, Ohio State University, and the University of Utah, Dr. Borchers brings a depth of professional experience and publication to creative and professional writing courses. Her past and current research interests include the rhetoric and poetics of American writers and the problematics of the "we," as well as world literature issues and the importance of diversity in our increasingly complex and compelling global community. Her hobbies include Irish music and dance, running, walking, and travel.


Gerry ErionGerald J. Erion, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Humanities
Dr. Gerald J. Erion earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University at Buffalo; he completed his undergraduate studies at SUNY Geneseo. His current research includes topics in ethics and moral philosophy, philosophy of mind, and the teaching of philosophy, and his dissertation research investigated the ontology and epistemology of common sense. He also contributed chapters to recent books on philosophy and pop culture, including The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'Oh of Homer (Open Court) and The Daily Show and Philosophy: Moments of Zen in the Art of Fake News (Blackwell).

Dr. Erion teaches a variety of courses in philosophy and general education, and he recently served as director of the Medaille College Honors Program. Medaille's Student Government Association has named him Professor of the Year three times, and he has won the Dr. Brian R. Shero Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award as well. Dr. Erion maintains a personal Web site.


Courtney GrimCourtney Grim, M.F.A.

Associate Professor, Humanities
Courtney Grim has been at Medaille College since 1996. She holds a master's of fine arts degree from Rochester Institute of Technology in imaging arts, a bachelor of fine arts degree from Ohio University in photography with minors in ceramics and art history. Grim has been an artist-in-residence at the Experimental Television Center in New York and was recently award an Individual Artists Grant from the New York State Council in the Arts for her project entitled, Eerie Tales.  

Grim's artistic works have been installed, screened and exhibited throughout the country, most recently at the Sound Experiment Film Festival in Lardeo, TX; the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center in Philadelphia, PA; Richmond Center for the Visual Arts, Kalamazoo, MI; American Cinematic Experience, New York, NY; and the Athens International Film and Video Festival.

Grim will present her research on "Integrated Student Learning" at the College Art Association conference in Los Angeles, California. She is an active participant in the community, most recently serving on the Board of Directors at Squeaky Wheel, Buffalo's Media Art Center. Currently Grim is working on new works that are informed by a coal freighter trip on the Great Lakes. Two videos, side-by-side, tell the tale of repositioning landscapes, dwindling resources and the illusion of plenty. "Loss of Control and the Disillusion of Certainty" corresponds to a broader uncertainty of our natural resources including issues of energy, fresh drinking water, food distribution and climate change currently affecting our planet.


Erika HamannErika Hamann, M.A.

Visiting Instructor, Humanities & Buffalo Campus Writing Coordinator
Erika Hamann joined the full-time faculty in 2006 and currently teaches in the Departments of Interdisciplinary Studies and Humanities. She began teaching at Medaille as an adjunct instructor in 2004. Erika holds a master of arts degree in English from Buffalo State College, where her academic focus was on Mark Twain, evolution and religion in Gilded Age/Victorian society. She also received her bachelor of arts degree in English from Buffalo State College.



Mary Louise Hill, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Humanities Department
Mary Louise Hill holds a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from New York University, an M.A. in fiction writing from Syracuse University, and a B.A. in English from Cleveland State University. Her research interests include the history of technology and its impact on performance, multi-cultural performance and drama, feminist performance and drama, semiotics and phenomenology. Her dissertation, When The Voice Must Be The Body: Feminism and Radio Drama earned her honors at N.Y.U.; chapters from it have appeared in TDR: The Drama Review and Women and Performance. Recently, her scholarship has focused on methods of integrating the web into the writing and literature classroom.  In 2012, she chaired a panel at the NCTE’s Conference for College Composition and Communication devoted to web applications in writing classrooms; her paper dealt with cross-cultural wiki projects.  In the past, she presented papers on feminism, sound theory, radio and performance in the U.S.A., Turkey and South Africa. She has taught at Syracuse University, New York University, Onondaga Community College, LeMoyne College, Alcorn State University (Mississippi), and Baskent University (Ankara, Turkey).

Dr. Hill also writes fiction; recent publications include “Hayati’s Box” in the Spring 2009 issue of . . . ellipsis  and “When Addie Died” in the Summer 2013 issue of The Gettysburg Review.  She is also the campus Fulbright Representative.

Dr. Hill is very grateful to her colleagues and students for choosing her as the 2013 recipient of the Dr. Brian R. Shero Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award.

Richard T. JurasekRichard T. Jurasek, Ph.D.

Dr. Richard T. Jurasek began his tenure as Medaille College's sixth president on June 1, 2007. He was previously the executive vice president and interim president of Antioch College in Ohio. Before joining Antioch, Dr. Jurasek served as dean of faculty at Augustana College in Illinois, and Professor of German at Earlham College in Indiana.

A foreign language scholar, Jurasek earned both his Ph.D. and master's degrees in German from The Ohio State University and his bachelor's degree in German from Ohio University. Dr. Jurasek has co-authored three books on German that are used in colleges and universities across the country. He has published widely and has made numerous presentations about on-campus and off-campus curriculum design.

In addition to his work in academics, Dr. Jurasek is an elected member to both the Community Resources Board and the Community Roundtable in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He was a worksite volunteer for Habitat for Humanity (2001-2003) and served as a classroom volunteer (2001-2003) in Rock Island, Ill.

Norman MuirNorman Muir, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, and Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs
Dr. Norman Muir joined Medaille College in June 2004 as the undergraduate academic dean. Since receiving his Ph.D. in literature from SUNY Stony Brook in 1984, he has served as a full-time faculty member or academic administrator at three other small, private, independent colleges. His scholarly interests remain in the areas of sixteenth and seventeenth century British literature, with an emphasis on Elizabethan and Jacobean comedy. He continues to research and write about the influence of the theological doctrine of Christian Patience on Renaissance and seventeenth century literature through John Milton.

Dr. Muir has taught a variety of college writing and literature courses, ranging from developmental English to technical writing and from introduction to literature classes to a senior seminar in the novels of William Faulkner. While at Centenary College in New Jersey, he received the Lindback Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence after being nominated by his students. He has also had the good fortune of traveling to China twice in recent years to teach for short periods of time at five Chinese universities.

As an academic administrator, his primary interests are in academic program development, experiential learning, strategic planning, improving teaching and learning, and the assessment of student learning and institutional effectiveness.

He is a lifelong New York Yankee fan with a passion for baseball. When not watching a Yankee game on television, he can be found indulging his interest in Italian Renaissance art and literature.

Lee NisbetLee Nisbet, Ph.D.

Professor, Humanities Department
Dr. Lee Nisbet, professor of humanities, holds a M.A. in history and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He is a past recipient of the prestigious John Dewey Senior Research Fellowship, the author of two anthologies dealing with gun violence and gun control issues and numerous articles in both scholarly and mass circulation publications. He was instrumental in the development of Medaille’s Theodore Roosevelt Honors Program and served as its director from 2001-2004. He has developed and taught, with great enthusiasm, a variety of philosophy courses at the college since 1977.

Dr. Nisbet’s scholarship is wide-ranging. His writing in both academic and mass-circulation publications covers a diversity of topics including logical theory, critical thinking, applied ethics, social and political philosophy, reverse discrimination, sex-differences, cognitive and motivational bias, mass-media bias, crime and violence, paranormal phenomena, philosophy of sport and pragmatic naturalism among others. He has edited two well reviewed volumes, The Gun Control Debate: You Decide (1990, 2001) that contain both the most important writings on gun control and gun violence issues in the United States and abroad over the last three decades and Nisbet’s in-depth analysis of these issues. His expertise in this area has led to dozens of national and local radio and television appearances dealing with gun control, gun violence issues. Also, he has lectured here and abroad on mass-media bias issues including a presentation to the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, Russia, 2001. He is currently working on a volume dealing with the sex-gender difference debate in the United States.

He serves on the board of directors of the Center of Inquiry, Amherst, New York, is a founding member of the International Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and is a contributing editor to both the Skeptical Inquirer and Free Inquiry magazines.

In his other life he is an enthusiastic, world-traveling salt and fresh water fly-fisherman, big-game hunter, canoer, kayaker, hiker, U.S. Coast Guard licensed charter captain, and lover of remote places on this earth.

Ted PeltonTed Pelton, Ph.D.

Professor, Humanities Department
Dr. Ted Pelton has a Ph.D. in American literature from University at Buffalo and an M.A. in creative writing from University of Colorado. He is the author of four books of fiction: Endorsed by Jack Chapeau, a short story collection; Bhang, a novella; Malcolm and Jack (and other Famous American Criminals), a novel; and most recently, Bartleby, the Sportscaster, a novella.

Dr. Pelton received an Individual Fellowship in Fiction from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1994 and an Isherwood Foundation Fellowship in writing in 2008. He is also the founder and publisher of Starcherone Books, a non-profit fiction publisher, and frequently employs Medaille students in on-campus internships in non-profit small press publishing. Dr. Pelton was awarded tenure in 2004 and was promoted to the rank of Professor in 2009. In addition to numerous national reviews of his work, he has been profiled in The Buffalo News, Buffalo ArtVoice, and Western New York Life magazine, and in 2006 he was named Best Fiction Writer in the annual Best of WNY selections made by Buffalo Spree magazine. His teaching specializations are American literature, the novel, contemporary fiction, fiction writing, literary criticism, and film.

 Alice VillasenorAlice Villaseñor, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Humanities Department
Dr. Alice Villaseñor (alice.m.villasenor@medaille.edu) holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in English with a graduate certificate in gender studies from the University of Southern California. She earned her B.A. in English and Political Science from the University of California at Riverside.  Before coming to Medaille, Dr. Villaseñor served as the Director of Public Humanities Initiatives for the Joint Educational Project at the University of Southern California, where she developed service-learning programs in the humanities.  At Medaille, she teaches English and General Education courses for students at all points of their college career, including ENG 110—College Writing I, ENG 305—British Literature I, ENG 315—British Literature II, ENG 425—Major Literary Figures: Jane Austen and Popular Culture, ENG 460—Literary Theory and Criticism, and GEN 410—Baccaleureate Capstone I.

A Jane Austen scholar, she serves on the Board of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) and runs the JASNA International Visitor Program.  She regularly presents her work to academic and general audiences in North America and in the U.K., and her research has been published in the Reports of the U.K. Jane Austen Society, Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal, Persuasions On-Line, and the Journal of Victorian Culture Online.  Her archival scholarship has been supported by fellowships from the University of Southern California, the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute, the Jane Austen Society of North America, the U.K. Jane Austen Society, and the Chawton House Library for British Women Writers. She was the first recipient of the Medaille College Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scholarship Award (2013).  More information about her scholarship can be found on Academia.edu at (http://medaille.academia.edu/AliceVillase%C3%B1or).

I'm grateful for the education I've received.

The instructors were knowledgeable and welcomed class discussions, with
respect for each student's contribution. I've learned how to be a more
effective leader. My capstone class gave insight on how to combine all
the education learned to operate a business. That's when I realized how
much I had sharpened my knowledge.

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