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Early Launch Team

Brad Balser

I am the Director of Curriculum Management, Records, and Strategic Summer Program Development in Flyer Student Services. Flyer Student Services is a one-stop shop for a variety of student services including registration, student accounts, and financial aid. Maintaining academic records, issuing academic transcripts, and coordinating graduation are just a few of the office’s services.

I graduated from The Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in Technical Education and Training and a master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs. At Ohio State I served as a resident advisor my junior and senior years of undergraduate study, and then as an assistant residence hall director during graduate school. I started my professional career in college student personnel at Purdue University, before coming back home to Ohio (originally from Greenville, OH) and working at the University of Cincinnati as the Coordinator for Student Activities, and the University of Dayton for the past 15 years.

My roles in student leadership programs, academic advising, and other areas of student development and persistence have been transformative for me. Working in community at UD has given me the opportunity to create lasting relationships and fond memories – two things I very much value in life. One way I hope to continue leading in service to the common good at UD is through my work as an Early Launch mentor.

When I'm not on campus, I can usually be found spending quality time with my wife, kids, and Labrador Retriever. I also enjoy watching, coaching, and playing sports of all sorts; listening to the Dave Matthews Band; and binge watching episodes of The Office – please don’t think any less of me because of this!!!

Welcome to the University of Dayton community. We’re all so glad you’re here. You’re now a Flyer!

Jacob Bauer

Lecturer in philosophy. I research and write in the areas of ethics, philosophy of religion, philosophy of nonviolence, and philosophy of science-fiction. My graduate thesis explored Gandhi’s nonviolence through the lens of normative ethics. My most recent work examines Gandhi’s views on greed and business ethics. I am currently working on a book on philosophy of science-fiction and technology.

I serve as vice-chair of the board of directors of the Dayton International Peace Museum. Through the Peace Museum, I help organize public events, including our 2020 Building Peace Series. Currently, I help organize and run the Peace Museum’s bi-monthly MLK Dialogues series, a community dialogue that explores topics raised by the writings and speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In my free time, I enjoy nerdy hobbies such as playing Magic: the Gathering, watching Star Trek, and reading The Expanse series.

Youssef Farhat

Dayton transplant since 2013, I have been part of the University of Dayton focusing my work on comparative studies, human rights, and international development. As the partnerships coordinator for Human Rights Center, I get to plan and put together a weeklong biennial conference, Social Practice of Human Rights aka SPHR which hosts over 500 human rights practitioners and scholars on campus, and work with inspiring undergraduate students through the Malawi Practicum on Rights and Development, a yearlong experiential program preparing them to travel and conduct research in northern Malawi. I serve on a number of advisory committees and boards in the Dayton area such as Dayton Council of World Affairs and Catholic Social Services connecting local and global affairs particularly working with refugees and immigrant families.

Prior to joining the flyer nation, I worked for the UN Development Programme and US Agency for International Development in Beirut, Lebanon as a multilingual researcher and coordinator for development projects in areas of legislation, education, income generation, women empowerment, environment, and LGBTQ+ rights. In my classroom, I do my best to bring all these interconnected experiences bridging the theory we learn in the textbook with real world experiences into the space. With that being said, I rely heavily on my students’ creativity, contributions and interests to shape our discussions. Don’t be surprised if you see us using coloring pens and play-dough, running fun simulations or playing board games. I view long-lasting friendships and networking as critical when it comes to our learning experiences, and that always starts in our classrooms. When I’m not planning events or preparing curriculum, you’ll find me either on a long walk or in my kitchen making the best hummus in town.

Justin Keen

I work in the Learning Teaching Center as the Director of Assessment and Student-Centered Analytics. I focus on engaging departments in processes to improve student learning and success. I first came to UD as a student, where I quickly learned that even a slightly introverted data nerd could accomplish more by being a part of a community that balanced strong support with encouragement to take risks and try new things. In the more than a decade since, I have served in a variety of roles working directly with educators to develop transformative student experiences that draw on University of Dayton’s mission to educate the whole person and advance the common good.

I also serve as a Marianist Educational Associate working to enrich the university’s Marianist character; a member of campus Green Dot Team where I help students develop skills to prevent power-based personal violence; and a member of several groups devoted to advancing inclusive excellence on campus. My most recent publication was a collaboration with UD’s Institute of Applied Creativity for Transformation focused on a group of UD students that used active and collaborative approaches to build shared community between campus and local partners to advance social justice. My social distancing strategy has included cooking lots of meals with fresh bread, long runs in the beautiful neighborhoods surrounding UD, very slow walks with my aging Yorkipoo, and a few too many failed science experiments with my two children.

Michael Key

As the Learning Initiatives Coordinator for the Office of Learning Resources, I coordinate Tutoring, Academic Coaching, and courses designed for students in academic distress. I successfully secured international certification and recognition by the College Reading & Learning Association for UD's Tutoring program, which specializes in inquiry-based learning. I also co-facilitate Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt certifications to coach professionals on process improvement and change management.

My vocation is working with students who've experienced academic distress and help them tap into their present skills to develop a greater sense of wellbeing. I approach learning through mindfulness and the relationship between emotions and cognition to help students develop greater emotional intelligence. I am a gamer who enjoys fantasy and science fiction video and tabletop role-playing games. My cats thoroughly enjoy rolling my twenty-sided die when the occasion doesn't call for it.

Dr. Ju Shen
Ju Shen received the Ph.D. and M.Sc. degrees in computer science from the University of Kentucky, in 2014 and the University of Birmingham, England, in 2006. He is now an associate professor of computer science at the University of Dayton and the director of the Interactive Visual Media Lab (IVIDIA). His research interests include computer vision, machine learning, and interactive media. He has authored and co-authored more than 30 published papers. He has served as the journal editor, program chair, area chair, and TPC for a number of scientific journals and international conferences, including IEEE ICME, IEEE ISM, IEEE ICIP, IEEE BigMM, IEEE MIPR, MAICS. He is also a senior member of the IEEE society.
Amy Krug
  • Promotion to Senior Lecturer, Spring 2020
  • Participation in Faculty-Led Business in Spain, Summer 2020 (canceled)
  • E-Learning Fellows Program, April 2

Having a background in Computer Science (my Bachelor's degree was in Computer Information Systems), I have enjoyed embracing many of the technological advances in teaching, perhaps the most significant of which are in online education. I began teaching online in 2010 and have been amazed at the changes not only in tools, but in the eventual embrace of a unique pedagogy for online learning. By research and reading about these advances, I am committed to constantly improving my own teaching techniques as well as helping others improve theirs.

I live south of UD with a bunch of kids, cats, random small animals, and a husband. I love to read, especially romance novels (as the poster in my office says, "Unapologetic Romance Reader"). I have actually written several romance novels and novellas as a ghostwriter. This writing spurred my interest in popular romance as a research interest, which I teach in my English 200 class. I am also very involved in the Girl Scouts as a leader -- no, we don't do romance writing badges, but maybe we should. I also love to travel, draw/paint, and binge Netflix.

Gretchen Theil

I am a second year graduate student pursuing my Master's of Science in Education through UD's College Student Personnel program. I currently work as the Graduate Assistant (GA) for Flyer Student Services. I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minor in Spanish in December 2018. 

Throughout my first year working at UD I served in many roles. Aside from being the first GA in Flyer Student Services, I have worked alongside the Divisions of Enrollment Management and Student Development, the Office of Admission and Financial Aid, the School of Engineering Office of Student Success, the Office of Learning Resources, and New Student Orientation. Through my experiences and relationships I have formed at UD, I am well connected to several areas of campus! 

I am committed to guiding students along the path to forming authentic relationships with themselves, which will in turn help them form authentic relationships with others. I am passionate about teaching and mentoring through a strengths-based approach and my vocation lies in creating engaging and positive environments for all students based upon their individual needs. 

As a Dayton native, I enjoy exploring restaurants all over the Dayton area! When I am not eating or working on my graduate studies, I enjoy reading any book I can get my hands on (physical books are preferable), refining my cookie baking skills, and attending various sporting events (especially Flyer ones) with my family and friends!

Dr. Becky Krakowski

Joining the University of Dayton in 2000 as the department of mathematics first faculty member with expertise in mathematics education, I have created or revised nearly a dozen courses for undergraduate and graduate middle and high school teachers, in addition to regularly teaching non-calculus-based statistics (MTH 207). As a mathematics educator, I believe it is important to meet students where they are educationally and then elicit growth, regardless of where they start. To do this, I incorporate a variety of teaching strategies utilizing group work/projects, discussion threads involving topics of general interest and their connection to specific mathematical content, and the appropriate use of technology to help further the mathematical goals of whatever course I am teaching. I am dedicated to engaging all of my students and providing as many opportunities to learn and improve as possible in any class that I teach.

For me, teaching is a calling. In answering that call, it is my life’s ambition to reach all of my students and provide each with the tools necessary to be successful, but also to gain confidence in their ability to do mathematics and increase their enthusiasm for the content. To that end, I view my role as a coach more than a “giver of useless information” that will soon be forgotten. In particular, a coach manages to get her “players” to do things they never imagined they could do … and then she gets them to achieve even a little bit more.

In my time away from work, you will likely find me on a golf course somewhere, playing with my two dogs, Skyler and Elphie, or planning my next great travel adventure to either golf, explore the world, or see Broadway musicals.

Laura Toomb

I graduated from UD and went to work in Chicago for Lexis-Nexis and while there I earned my masters in speech from Northwestern University.   I went on to become a manager of the accounting market in New York City.  After a stint staying home with my children, I went back to work as the Marketing and Sales Director of an Independent Living Community in Cincinnati.  In 2011, I began my teaching career at Sinclair Community College then joined UD in January of 2015.

I am a professor in the Communication Department where I teach Public Speaking, Principles of Oral Communication and Interviewing and Business Communication weaving my business background with academics.  For the past four years, I have also been teaching the Introduction Course to the university (ASI160) working with undecided first year students and advising them until they choose their majors.   In 2017, I became part of the MEA program at UD (Marianist Educational Associate) where I represent the Marianist values at various events for students, faculty, and staff.  This past year, I was on the Vocation Implementation Cohort learning to make sure students in my Introductory course understand the vast talents they bring and how to become involved and be the best student they can be while at UD.

As the mother of 4 with two of my daughters currently attending UD, I feel like I can really connect to the students and understand the stress and pressures of entering college.  I am so excited to work with the incoming students and help guide them to a successful academic career.

Dr. Sam Wallace

I earned my Ph.D. in Communication from Ohio State University and I have just completed my 39th year as a faculty member at the University of Dayton where I hold the rank of professor. My research interests include group and individual decision making and problem solving. But I am especially interested in academic course design that puts maximum emphasis on helping students learn as opposed to “merely” teaching them stuff. The difference between teaching and learning may appear inconsequential, but approaching instruction from a learning perspective makes a huge difference in how faculty and students do their jobs. Since I decided to approach instruction as learning, my students generally get better grades, they seem to get more from my courses, we are all more actively engaged, and we all seem to better enjoy the experience. It’s all good!

I have three children, two of which graduated from UD, and the third graduated from Capital University in Columbus. I also have two grandchildren (maybe three by the time you read this), Caroline (age 5) and Jimmy (age 1). Caroline and Jimmy live in Texas, but they will be visiting Ohio this summer!

I have really enjoyed my career at the University of Dayton. It has been a great job for me as well as my family, and I look forward to conspiring with new first-year students to help them get established, dig deep into this “learning” thing, and start from a solid place on this exciting next phase of their lives!

Aaron Witherspoon

I currently serve as the Director of University Advising Initiatives, where I oversee the vision, implementation of training, development and centralized coordination of advising and mentoring at the university. Previously, I served as assistant dean for student success in the College of Arts and Sciences, where my contributions included helping to increase retention and persistence within CAS, recruiting multicultural students working with diverse student populations, leading the revision of discover arts and science programs, as well as assisting in leading implementation and coordination for the Student Success Network. I have professional experience working with students in leadership development, student-athletes, program creation and management. I earned bachelors and master’s degrees from SUNY Buffalo and have been at the university since 2009. I hold current membership in NACADA, OHAA and have presented at national, state and regional conferences on student success, STEM success, academic advising and multicultural programming and awareness. 

My vocation is to help students find what they are called to do, their passions and interests - and support them in pursuing their calling.  Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my family, following my hometown Buffalo Bills and keeping up with the latest automotive trends.

Marguerite Wallace, MSED, LPCC-S

I have been affiliated with the University since 1984.  After graduate school I worked with at risk youth in the foster care system, provided crisis services for suicidal/homicidal clients, and opened 7 clinical offices providing specialized mental health services to youth permanently removed from school districts for charges such as murder, rape and assault.

I provide consultation to many companies on topics such as workplace violence, sexual harassment, transitioning at work, work and life balance and many other topics.  One of my favorite challenges is to provide CISD – Critical Incident Stress Debriefings to local industries.  These might include providing support during a natural disaster, or going on site after a school shooting, bank robbery, a domestic violence incident, industrial injury or death at a business.

In addition to many years of teaching, consulting, directing clinical programs, and supervising intern and practicum students; I have a clinical private practice for the last 24 years where I provide psychotherapy and specialize in PTSD, MDD, GAD and military support services. Presently I have a son who is a Blackhawk pilot serving in the sand.

I am bringing over 30 years of clinical experience to the classroom.  I have always taught on top of my clinical work and have enjoyed moving from part time in the classroom to full time in the last few years.   I will bring real world examples, clinical stories and weird situations from my own children (they love that I do that…) to enable you to see how psychology is part of every day of our life.  Learning is part engagement and part love and excitement about the topic.  You will quickly see that I am enthused when discussing psychology and believe that you will become equally excited and intrigued about the many areas of life that psychology helps us understand.

I have three grown kids, three grandkids (who happen to be perfect…), and a couple of grand dogs who don’t visit enough.  When not working my husband and I enjoy traveling, biking, reading, and hanging out with friends (when not in a pandemic).

Megan Edmonds

As a lecturer in the department of philosophy, I teach Introduction to Philosophy, Business Ethics, and Information Ethics. My professional interests are philosophy of economics and technology ethics. I have been teaching philosophy at the college level since 2010 (here at UD since 2014) and I am always trying to improve myself as a professional educator. I have been fortunate to find numerous opportunities at UD to reflect upon and build my skills as an educator, most notably through the eLearning Fellows program (2019 cohort) and the Teaching Fellows program (2021 cohort).

My favorite part of my job is working with students. I believe I have as much to learn from my students as they have to learn from me, and I love to learn. As the content expert, I look forward to sharing complex ideas in an approachable way, helping students interpret sometimes difficult but very human content, and supporting students in finding ways these ideas fit into their own lives and experiences.

Outside of work I am usually spending time with my family, reading, binging Netflix, or watching British comedy panel shows on YouTube.

Dr. Toby W. Rush

I earned my graduate degrees in Music Theory and Composition at the University of Northern Colorado and have been teaching at UD for nine years. I love teaching people what makes music tick, whether they are an accomplished performer or just a passionate fan, and I firmly believe that any music that is worth listening to is worth studying, whether it's a classical concerto, a catchy K-Pop synth beat or a passionate, meaningful rap performed by an expert MC. I'm also a huge computer nerd and a lover of new media — I'm well known on the internet for Music Theory for Musicians and Normal People, a free-to-download music theory textbook in comic book format.

I love teaching at UD and living in the Dayton area with my wife and six kids, the oldest of whom will be in his second year at UD this fall, and the youngest of whom will be in second grade. I especially enjoy helping first-year students find ways to explore their passions and discover new ones, musical or otherwise.

Dr. Cassandra Secrease

Hello! Welcome to UD and CMM 100! I’m Dr. Cas and I’m thrilled to be embarking on this summer learning adventure with you!

My hope is that by the end of this course you will feel more confident in a variety of communication situations. If you have questions, if something doesn't make sense, and/or you are simply uncertain, please do not hesitate to ask. I simply will not know what you might need unless you help me help you. I'm not a perfect communicator but if we talk an issue through, we will probably be able to figure it out together.

A little more about me: I am what is called a "Navy Brat" and lived in Japan, Chile, and Norway before my mother retired from the U.S. Navy. I received my doctorate in Communication and Culture at Indiana University - Bloomington in 2012 and have been teaching at THE University of Dayton since the Fall of 2013. In that time, I have taught at the China Institute for a summer and later for a semester, led two study abroad programs to Ireland and Northern Ireland, was promoted to Senior Lecturer, and just finished my second year as the Course Director for CMM100. Of all the universities and colleges I have taught at over the last twenty years, UD is particularly special to me and it is the school I have most enjoyed. We joke about "community”, but I really see it here.

A note about my teaching philosophy: Learning is work. It takes effort and practice and making mistakes and trying out new things. It's not especially easy and it's a miracle that we have the capacity to do it at all. I'm willing to do my part to help you succeed in this course, what will you be willing to do?

Check out this video for what I think is a great metaphor for learning - sometimes we have to just trust, take a leap of faith, and go with the flow!  Dr. Cas' Metaphor for What It Looks Like to Learn New Stuffs

Dr. Matthew Beerse

I am an assistant professor in the department of Health and Sport Science. I earned my Ph.D. in Kinesiology at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia. At the University of Dayton, I primarily teach the Kinesiology course, as well as Motor Control and Learning. I have taught college level kinesiology courses since my graduate studies in 2014 and since 2018 here at UD. My research interests center around evaluating the movement patterns of children with developmental delays and assessing potential physical interventions that could improve their motor abilities. I am currently mentoring Health and Sport Science students who are researching walking patterns in children with Down syndrome, evaluating activities related to Osgood Schlatter’s Disease symptoms, learning a kettlebell swing exercise, and assessing strategies for landing from a jump.

My approach to teaching is to assist student learning of fundamental concepts and skills so that they are able to explore, experiment, and play. Applying concepts and skills to one’s own life and passions elevates the meaning of the material and bolsters the learning process. I aim to provide these exploration opportunities within my courses,

Off campus I engage in multiple hobbies including cooking, gardening, homebrewing, playing board games, and reading epic fantasy novels. My wife and I have two little kids (one running and the other crawling around), as well as a golden doodle named Murphy.

Christa Johnson

I started at UD in 2020 as the Director of the Ethics and Leadership Initiative, as well as Faculty in the Department of Philosophy. I teach and write primarily in Ethics and Moral Psychology. My current work focuses on questions surrounding one’s moral responsibility for their emotions, both felt and unfelt. In graduate school at Ohio State, I was a part of the team that worked to develop and create their Center for Ethics and Human Values.

My passion in teaching has always surrounded teaching students (how) to think. We often get so caught up in the day to day that fail to stop and reflect on the world around us and even what we ourselves are doing. We sometimes fail to see how our actions affect those around us, and even more often how others around us are faring and the extent to which we could do something about it. As such, I strive to help students to better see the world around them and critically reflect on and engage with it.

I have been a runner all my life, competing through college. I love all things Philadelphia and am a born and raised Buckeye fan (though these Flyers are coming for my fandom). I play much too complicated board games, suffer from a love of small city art, and, lately, I have been pretty focused on keeping a little human alive.

Lindsey Young

I am a graduate student pursuing my Master’s of Science in Education through the Higher Education and Student Affairs program here at UD and currently work as a Graduate Assistant (GA) for the Equity Compliance Office. I received a Bachelors of Science in Discipleship Ministries in 2015, and worked in social services for the five years prior to beginning my graduate program. During this time, I spent two years working as an on-campus advocate through a partnering community non-profit agency.

Since beginning my studies at UD, I have had the opportunity to serve in a variety of different roles. In addition to my current role as a GA for the Equity Compliance Office, I work as an intern for the Brook Center for Empowerment and Wellbeing serving as a lead instructor for the mini-course, Adulting 101. I have also worked alongside the Brook Center interview team, the School of Engineering, and Sinclair Community College.

I am deeply passionate about student development and the importance of walking along students exactly where they are at. I believe empathy and empowerment are vital foundations for creating positive learning environments, especially as I assist students in navigating the transition into their college years.

Over the past couple of years, I have found immense joy in a variety of hobbies from taking care of my 60+ house plants, crocheting blankets, or simply curling up with my polydactyl cat Stanley while watching a home renovation show. I am rarely without some kind of home project and am refueled by quality time and spreadsheets. Becoming a Flyer has been one of the greatest joys in my life and I am so excited to connect with students as they begin this exciting new chapter!

Petey Sanchez

I am a first year masters student in the Higher Education Student Affairs program here at UD, and currently work as a Residence Coordinator in Marycrest Complex--a first year residence hall. I graduated from Wright State University in May of 2020 with a Bachelor's degree in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies with a minor in Deaf Studies. After completing my degree, I went on to work at Eastern Michigan University as a Hall Director in a residence hall. Having the opportunity to move back to Dayton, I did.

Beginning at the University of Dayton, I have been able to serve in different capacities, serving as an intern in the Brook Center as the Mental Health Education intern. I have also served in the capacity in the college of Engineering, Sinclair Community College, and Wright State Student Advocacy and Wellness Center.

I am extremely passionate about helping students figure out their true, authentic self, and tearing down any barriers that are keeping students held down. Sometimes figuring that out is through a social justice lens.
I am a broadway enthusiast, and can talk for hours about any Broadway musical. I am also someone who loves the Dayton area. After living here for four years already, I have found my place in the world, and have found my home. I am also a Boyscout, and love sharing my knowledge about edible plants in the wild--ask me all about them!

Grace Imhoff

Hello! I will be a first year graduate student in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program and work as a Graduate Assistant in the Campus Activities Board (CAB) office at UD. In 2014 I started my journey at Dayton where I spent the next 4 years earning a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. After graduation in 2018 I moved back home to the Columbus area and started my career as a 4th grade teacher. 

While teaching, I developed my philosophy of education which is centered around holistic education. My experience as a 4th grade teacher led me to pursue a career in higher education, to build on my skills and enthusiasm for educating the whole person. I am passionate about shaping students outside the classroom to ultimately help them develop skills that will set them up for success in their professional and personal lives. The University of Dayton was instrumental in shaping me into the person I am today and I am honored and excited to work with first year students. Here at UD, you will be valued, cared for, and met exactly where you are.

For fun I enjoy spending time with my friends and family. Usually you can find us playing a game of Euchre or Risk (GOT version) and most recently we found a new favorite which is Throw, Throw, Burrito! I also love playing volleyball, taking long walks, recreating old family recipes, and cheering on the Cleveland Browns and of course the Dayton Flyers!