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Seaver College Welcomes New Full-time Faculty for Fall 2021

August 27, 2021  | 5 min read

Seaver College welcomed new full-time faculty members at the beginning of the 2021–2022 academic year. Alongside these full-time faculty additions, Seaver also welcomed several adjunct faculty across all eight of the school’s divisions for fall 2021. 

Tenure-Track Appointments

Jasmine GrayJasmine “Jaz” Gray is joining the Communication Division as an assistant professor of communication studies. She received her PhD at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on how people in marginalized communities can use narrative to develop resiliency and how the media production process can be used to empower those communities.

Howard Jean-DenisHoward Jean-Denis is joining the Business Administration Division as an assistant professor of strategic management. Jean-Denis is a PhD candidate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. A native of Haiti, Jean-Denis is a US Army veteran, award-winning entrepreneur, triathlete, and strategic management researcher, and his research focus is corruption and humanistic philosophies from the African diaspora perspective.

Paul KimPaul Kim is a storyteller and documentary filmmaker who is bringing his expertise to the Communication Division as a professor of screen arts. Kim completed his MFA at American University’s School of Communication, and his teaching career began at Andrews University in Michigan, where he received the university’s highest teaching award, attained full professor with tenure, and chaired the department. Kim’s storytelling projects have addressed topics such as human rights, global health, education, and the intersection of religion and politics.

Karie Cross RiddleKarie Cross Riddle is joining the Social Science Division as an assistant professor of political science. Riddle received her PhD in peace studies and political science from the University of Notre Dame and was an assistant professor of political science at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the past three years. Her research focuses on women’s peacebuilding and human rights activism in the northeastern region of India.

Terrelle SalesTerrelle Sales ('08) is bringing his expertise to the Humanities and Teacher Education Division as an assistant professor of teacher education. During Sales’ tenure in public education, he held many roles including middle school mathematics teacher, special education coordinator, and high school assistant principal of mathematics and science instruction. His research interests include education, religion, critical pedagogy, critical theory, critical theology, and theology.

John TadenJohn Taden is joining the International Studies and Languages Division as an assistant professor of international studies. Taden’s research involves tracing the cross-border externalities of natural resource policies and the domestic policy and institutional outcomes of globalization. He received his PhD in public policy and political economy from the University of Texas at Dallas.

Alongside these six new tenure-track additions, assistant professor of communication studies Colin Storm will be transitioning from a visiting appointment to a tenure-track position. Florybeth La Valle, assistant professor of computer science, will also begin teaching in spring 2022.

Visiting Appointments 

Laura EstesLaura Estes is joining the Religion and Philosophy Division as the Seaver Faculty Fellow. Estes is a PhD candidate in theological studies: Christianity in antiquity at Saint Louis University. She studies religion in late antiquity with a particular focus on how early Christian communities read and interpreted the Bible in order to make sense of the world around them. A graduate of Freed-Hardeman and Abilene Christian Universities, Estes is excited for the opportunity to return to her roots, serving a university affiliated with Churches of Christ. 

Jolene BrittonJolene Britton, visiting assistant professor of mathematics, is joining the Natural Science Division. Britton received her PhD in mathematics from the University of California, Riverside, where she studied numerical methods for partial differential equations and inverse problems. Her publications cover the topics of high order numerical methods for hyperbolic equations, numerical methods for inverse problems, and transfer learning methods for neural networks.

Ame CividanesAme Cividanes received her PhD in contemporary Spanish literature from Florida State University. Cividanes returns to Pepperdine as a visiting associate professor of Hispanic studies in the International Studies and Languages Division. She previously taught Spanish at Seaver College from 1997–2000 and directed the Buenos Aires summer programs. For the past 15 years, she was the director of the Spanish and Portuguese language program at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Cividanes’ professional interests include second language teaching methodologies, pedagogy and assessment, 20th-century Spanish women writers, and the theory and literature of exile.

Pam Fox KuhlkenPam Fox Kuhlken is joining the Humanities and Teacher Education Division as a visiting assistant professor of humanities. Kuhlken comes to Pepperdine after teaching at San Diego State University for the past eight years, having previously held tenured positions in Arizona and the Czech Republic. She has published a book on the Dead Sea Scrolls and has current book contracts for a literary guide to the Bible and a humanities survey. 

Michael Lasley

Michael Lasley is bringing both his background in biology and his graduate work in English, including a PhD in writing and rhetoric from Syracuse University, to the Humanities and Teacher Education division as a visiting assistant professor of English. Lasley taught at Pepperdine from 2005–2010 but has spent the past 11 years in the English department at Santa Clara University. His research focuses on immigration, global citizenship, and social justice.

Reka Anna LassuRéka Anna Lassu is joining the Business Administration Division as a visiting assistant professor of organizational behavior. Lassu earned her PhD from the University of Central Florida. Her research focuses on leadership and employee wellbeing. To inform her research and teaching, Lassu draws on experiences outside academia. She was the manager of a travel leadership development program, a TEDx Talk organizer and speaker coach, the fundraising coordinator for a social entrepreneurship nonprofit, and a collaborator for a sustainability project in Europe.

Jonathan RiddleJonathan Riddle received his PhD from the University of Notre Dame, where he studied the history of religion and the history and philosophy of science. For the last three years, he served as assistant professor of history at Wheaton College, and he is now joining the Humanities and Teacher Education Division as a visiting assistant professor of history and Great Books. His research focuses on the intersection of religion and medicine in American history. He cares deeply about connecting his work in the humanities with our embodied experiences of sickness, health, and caregiving.

Nathan ThielNathan Thiel is joining the Religion and Philosophy Division as a visiting assistant professor of religion. Thiel has taught in biblical studies and related fields at Marquette University, where he earned his PhD, and Carroll University. His research interests range across Near Eastern and Mediterranean history, society, and culture with a special focus on Second Temple Judaism and early Christianity.

Juan CuadraJuan Cuadra, visiting instructor of Hispanic studies, is bringing his expertise to the International Studies and Languages Division. Cuadra is a native Spanish speaker born in Managua, Nicaragua, and has previously taught at four universities. His focus is on teaching Spanish conjugation, pronunciation, and literature.

Courtney HookCourtney Hook is joining the Communication Division as a visiting assistant professor of communication. She earned her PhD from Ohio University, and her work sits at the intersection of organizational communication and health communication. Her ongoing scholarship is guided by an overarching interest in the tensions and dialectics involved in constructions of advocacy, rehabilitation, and support among marginalized populations.

Alessandro L. MonterosAlessandro L. Monteros ('11) received his PhD in physics from the University of California, Merced, and he is now joining the Natural Science Division as a visiting assistant professor of physics. His research interests include condensed matter physics, quantum simulation, and quantum computing, and his last position involved using the IBM quantum architecture to simulate bosonic systems using qubits.

Paula OrrPaula Orr is joining the Humanities and Teacher Education Division as a visiting assistant professor of English. A memoirist and television writer with Appalachian roots, Orr writes about family and the intersection of cultures in America. She has previously taught English composition, critical analysis and intermediate composition, advanced writing, journalism, creative writing, and poetry.

In addition to the new faces in the Pepperdine faculty, 12 faculty members are returning or transitioning to new teaching roles including visiting instructors Yvette Gellis, Becky Hartung-Morrow, Nanar Khamo, Krista Lucas, John Ned, William “Ajax” Peris, Kim Hollingdale, Edward Mahoney, Katherine Laris, and Amy Zazzi; former Seaver Faculty Fellow Rachel Gould who is moving into a visiting assistant professor of literature position; and former visiting assistant professor of religion Nicholas Cumming who is transferring to an appointment in the Humanities and Teacher Education division as a visiting assistant professor of humanities. 

To read the faculty bios not included here, visit the Seaver Dean’s Office website