Skip to main content

About Us

2020 Faculty Awards

It is with pride that we recognize these faculty for their hard work and dedication to their students and to the College of Arts and Sciences. In lieu of our annual spring ceremony, we honor them here. 

Meghan Henning
Outstanding Teaching

The 2020 faculty award for outstanding teaching in the College of Arts and Sciences is awarded to Dr. Meghan Henning in the Department of Religious Studies.

Dr. Henning holds a Ph.D. in the New Testament from Emory University and a master’s degree in biblical studies from Yale Divinity School. She joined the University of Dayton faculty in 2014 as assistant professor of Christian origins.

Dr. Henning’s excellence as a teacher rests both on her clear philosophy of education and her dedication to its practical application with her students. She models a communal, developmental and uncomplacent style of teaching at all levels of instruction that is both effective and influential.

With undergraduate students, she mixes traditional lecture with innovative and well-structured exercises, which she refers to as “labs,” on the intensive reading of primary source materials. She complements this approach to classroom instruction with a commitment to creating a true community of learning with her students. For graduate students, she is both an erudite guide to their field of study and a model for their own professional and pedagogical formation.

Dr. Henning has demonstrated a transformative impact on students. In a departmental assessment of the learning outcome “examine one’s own faith commitments” for 200-level faith tradition courses, her results were very strong. When asked how deeply the course led them to examine their faith commitments, 23% of Dr. Henning’s students answered “Changed my life” — notably higher than the 7.7% average — and 74% responded, “It got me thinking.”

Her Student Evaluation of Teaching (SET) scores are also consistently well above departmental averages at all levels of instruction. Responding to the question of whether her course increased their understanding of the subject, one student wrote: “Strongly agree feels inadequate and I wish there were a higher ranking I could offer. Dr. Henning is a phenomenal instructor who is incredibly knowledgeable and knows how to convey that in a way that is informative and easy to understand.”

Samuel Mullins ’16, now a Ph.D. student studying early Christianity, said Dr. Henning’s passion is what makes her a great teacher.

“Dr. Henning is passionate about her subject and passionate about her students,” he wrote. “The passion for her subject is evident in the energy with which she teaches. The passion for her students is evident in the time she takes to help them, her tireless efforts to help them succeed, and the kind words she offers to and about them.”

Dr. Henning’s contributions as an educator extend beyond the classroom to the formation of curriculum. She was instrumental in revising the religious studies major. She also has created numerous innovative courses for the Common Academic Program and the department’s graduate programs that demonstrate a fruitful, interdisciplinary approach. She has also contributed to the scholarship of teaching internationally, co-editing a special pedagogy issue of the Journal of Disability and Religion with Dr. Kirk Van Gilder.

As a teacher-scholar, Dr. Henning has published the book, Educating Early Christians through the Rhetoric of Hell, as well as 14 peer-reviewed articles and essays. She is writing another, Hell Hath No Fury: Gender, Disability, the Body, and the Conceptualization of Suffering in Ancient Christian Depictions of Hell, under contract with Yale University Press.

For sustained quality teaching that transforms student perspectives and creates greater interest in religious studies and theology, the College is pleased to recognize Dr. Meghan Henning with the Outstanding Teaching Award for 2020.

Return to top of page.

Shuang-Ye Wu
Outstanding Scholarship

The 2020 faculty award for outstanding scholarship in the College of Arts and Sciences is awarded to Dr. Shuang-Ye Wu in the Department of Geology.

Dr. Wu holds a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. She came to UD’s Department of Geology in 2004 as a visiting assistant professor and joined the tenure-track faculty in 2007. She became an associate professor in 2013, and a professor in 2019. She is the first woman to achieve the rank of professor in the geology department’s 74-year history. Dr. Wu was appointed department chair in 2019.

Dr. Wu' s research in climate modelling has made her an acknowledged international expert in analyzing current changes in climate and also those of the past, which is an important tool when interpreting current and future scenarios. Her primary research addresses important areas such as the potential impacts of climate change in the hydrological cycle, which include changing precipitation patterns, extreme storms, sea-level rise, and inland and coastal flooding.

She collaborates with faculty at Nanjing University in China, which the Nature Index ranked at No. 6 among the top global institutions for Earth and environmental sciences. She also has attracted significant funding from the Natural Science Foundation of China.

Her grants and sponsored research total more than $1.8 million and include funding from the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, University of Dayton Research Institute, and Hanley Sustainability Institute.

Dr. Wu has published five book chapters and more than 40 articles in top-tier journals that include the International Journal of Climatology, Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres, Journal of Hydrology, Geophysical Research Letters and The Cryosphere. She has shared her expertise with the Dayton community through media appearances in the Dayton Daily News and on local television and radio outlets.

Dr. Wu’s work is recognized by leaders in her field. One of her research collaborators, Dr. Hou Shugui, distinguished professor at Nanjing University’s School of Geographic and Oceanic Sciences, praised Dr. Wu’s “immense scientific curiosity and astuteness, which enable her to work well across disciplines.” He also lauded Dr. Wu as a dedicated mentor of young scientists in both the U.S. and China.

At the University of Dayton, nearly 40 students have presented research co-written with Dr. Wu at the annual Brother Joseph W. Stander Symposium. Many of them also have presented their research at regional, national and international conferences.

For scholarly achievement that is not only significant and high-impact, but also timely for society facing climate change, the College is pleased to recognize Dr. Shuang-Ye Wu with the Outstanding Scholarship Award for 2020.

Return to top of page.

Kelly Vibber
Outstanding Service

The 2020 faculty award for outstanding service in the College of Arts and Sciences is awarded to Dr. Kelly Vibber in the Department of Communication.

Dr. Vibber holds a Ph.D. in public relations from Purdue University. She joined the University of Dayton faculty in 2014 as assistant professor of communication.

Dr. Vibber has contributed a remarkably high volume of quality service in just her first six years at the University. She has taken on departmental leadership roles, including study abroad coordinator and director of undergraduate studies, that have made a substantial and meaningful impact on students. She also has served on a number of important committees across the University that have benefitted UD, the College and the communication department.

“The work Dr. Vibber has accomplished and the impact it has made is both undeniable and unparalleled,” said Joe Valenzano, associate professor and Department of Communication chair, in his nomination letter for the award.

Upon arrival at UD, Dr. Vibber temporarily assumed the role of lead faculty for public relations, a concentration with nearly 200 students. She was tasked with being on a search committee for a tenure track hire in public relations and also became faculty advisor to UD’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter.

“Through her involvement and education to students, Dr. Vibber made PRSSA possible at UD,” said May graduate Kendra Zonca ’20. “She volunteered her time and expertise to help foster the interest of public relations in many students. I have been inspired by her knowledge and passion for the PR field.”

In fall 2016, Dr. Vibber became the department’s study abroad coordinator. She implemented a more open and transparent process that invited all full-time faculty to select preferred study abroad locations and suggest courses they could teach in those cities. Since summer 2017, eight faculty members have either taught or been assigned to teach abroad with the department, including three new faculty who had not previously taught abroad with UD. She also broke away from the department’s traditional three-city rotation and opened the door for new formats, adding program sites that include Sydney and Prague. Most department summer programs now enroll 20 to 30 students annually.

Perhaps her most consequential role within the department is serving as director of undergraduate studies and chair of the undergraduate curriculum committee. Under her leadership, the committee has accomplished significant goals and moved the department forward in positive ways. Their efforts have included conducting instructor teaching observations, reviewing departmental minor proposals, standardizing course learning objectives and developing undergraduate certificate programs. Currently, she represents the department as a member of the Human Rights Studies Advisory Committee and the Common Academic Plan Leadership Committee.

Dr. Vibber has served on several master’s thesis committees. She also has maintained a significant amount of service to her discipline, including serving as an article reviewer for three different journals, a submissions reviewer for two annual conferences, and creating social media content for the public relations division of the Association of Educators in Journalism and Mass Communication.

For a diverse and sustained range of quality service that impacts students, departmental faculty and the University at large, the College is pleased to recognize Dr. Kelly Vibber with the Outstanding Service Award for 2020.

Return to top of page.


Dan Birdsong
Outstanding Contribution, Non-Tenure Track Faculty

The 2020 faculty award for outstanding contributions by a full-time, non-tenure track faculty member in the College of Arts and Sciences is awarded to Dr. Dan Birdsong in the Department of Political Science.

Dr. Birdsong holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Cincinnati. He joined the University of Dayton faculty in 2010 as a lecturer of political science.

Dr. Birdsong has made important contributions to the University, College and his department across the areas of teaching, research and service, making a positive impact on students and advancing UD’s mission and goals.

As a teacher, he offers a broad range of popular courses, and has been a department leader in the development of SSC 200 courses and the delivery of the Common Academic Program. His Student Evaluation of Teaching (SET) scores are regularly above the department’s average, and the written comments from students reflect an organized, enthusiastic and innovative teacher.

Although lecturers’ teaching responsibilities can leave little time for research, Dr. Birdsong has still been quite active as a scholar. He presents his writing and research in both academic and popular outlets. He collaborated with fellow UD political science faculty member Dr. Chris Devine on a chapter, Fly-To Country: The Midwest as a Political Battleground, in the book, The Conservative Heartland: A Political History of the Postwar American Midwest, published in April 2020 by University of Kansas Press. He also has written editorials and opinion pieces for The Cincinnati Enquirer, Dayton Daily News, CNN’s Belief Blog and The Conversation.

In addition to active scholarship and excellence in teaching, Dr. Birdsong has also provided leadership in a number of important University initiatives. For the last three years, Dr. Birdsong has served as the experiential learning coordinator for both the Department of Political Science and the Human Rights Studies program. As Dayton2DC coordinator, he is solely responsible for connecting with alumni in Washington, D.C., and organizing an annual 4-day trip for 20-30 students from across the College. He also spent a significant amount of time in the nation’s capital during the summers of 2017 and 2018, working with 10-15 honors students interning in offices across the district through the DC Flyers program.

“Anyone can arrange a field trip,” said Dr. Ann Hudock ’90, executive vice president of Counterpart International, regarding the Dayton2DC program. “What Daniel and the team put together is an amazing set of exchanges that ignite passions in students, show them what’s possible, and make alums like me wish we were still at school to experience it all.”

In addition, Dr. Birdsong serves as a political analyst for numerous local, national and international media outlets. During the 2016 election alone, news articles quoting him as an expert reached more than 127 million readers, not including his
numerous TV interviews.

For his invaluable and impactful contributions across the areas of teaching, scholarship and service, the College is pleased to recognize Dr. Dan Birdsong with the Outstanding Contribution, Non-Tenure Track Faculty Award for 2020.

Return to top of page.

Professors Emeriti

We recognize the following faculty who were promoted to the rank of Professor Emeritus in 2020:

Vincent Branick
Professor Emeritus

Dr. Vincent Branick began his career at the University of Dayton in 1976, when he was appointed assistant to the director of the Marian Library. Before taking that position, Dr. Branick had already earned an M.A. in philosophy from the Catholic University of America (1964), a doctorate in philosophy (1971) from the University of Freiburg, and a doctorate in sacred scripture (1975) from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. Over the course of his time at the University of Dayton he added an M.B.A. (1983) to his already impressive list of academic accomplishments.

Dr. Branick started teaching in the Department of Religious Studies in 1977. He became an associate professor in the department the following year and joined the graduate faculty in 1981. He earned tenure in 1983 and promotion to full professor in 1990.

Dr. Branick is an internationally recognized expert on the Scriptures, particularly on the letters of St. Paul in the New Testament. He is the author of eight books, including Understanding the New Testament and Its Message (1998), which received a 3rd place award from the Catholic Press Association; The House Church in the Writings of Paul (1989; 2nd ed., 2012), which has been translated into Portuguese and Korean; and Understanding the Historical Books of the Old Testament (2011), also translated into Korean. He is the author of numerous articles, including the entry on “Galatians” in the revised version of the prestigious Jerome Biblical Commentary. Dr. Branick has also written dozens of book reviews and offered academic addresses locally, nationally, and internationally.

Over his nearly 45 years of teaching at the University of Dayton, Dr. Branick has offered the gamut of courses on the Scriptures at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. In addition to his course offerings, he has served on the examination and thesis committees of numerous M.A. and Ph.D. students in theology. In connection with his other roles at the University, he also taught business ethics for many years in the department and also offered courses on Greek and philosophy.

Dr. Branick has complemented his research and teaching with a wide range of forms of service. In addition to the many departmental committees on which he has served, he was an acting assistant dean in the College of Arts and Sciences from 1984-1986 and assistant to the vice president and treasurer from 1984-1992.

To all of these tasks, Dr. Branick brought his characteristic passion for and commitment to Marianist and Catholic education at the University of Dayton. After his retirement, he intends to continue his scholarly work, including a manuscript on the textual composition of the Torah. He is also learning Arabic in order to allow him better access to other scholarly sources for his work on the Hebrew Scriptures. Even in retirement, therefore, he plans to stay engaged with the scholarly work which has shaped his entire academic career and which he still wishes to bring forth for the benefit of the University, academy and church.

- Daniel Thompson, Department of Religious Studies chair

Return to top of page.

Kevin Church
Professor Emeritus

Dr. Kevin Church retired from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Dayton on May 15, 2020 after a 30-year career. He has been a essential member of the department faculty over those many years and has been a part of the growth of the department.

In his career he has taught thousands of students the subject of organic chemistry. He was an important part of the modernization of the course and the development of a modern organic program. He developed a course in medicinal chemistry as an advanced elective for chemistry and other majors.

Over his career, Dr. Church has published numerous research papers in the area of medicinal chemistry. He guided numerous undergraduate students and several graduate students in research projects and the completion of their thesis. He was instrumental in the chemistry department obtaining a modern NMR instrument, which is an essential tool for research in many areas of chemistry. He also maintained the instrument for more than five years and trained many students in its use.

Dr. Church was instrumental in developing the proposal for the reinstatement of the graduate program. He was also an important part of the development of the Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Bachelor of Science in Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry programs. These programs have become the most popular majors in the department.

Dr. Church has also been an academic advisor to hundreds of chemistry and premedical students. He has guided those students into successful careers and on to prestigious professional and graduate schools.

Dr. Church’s quiet manner and attention to detail will be missed by his students and colleagues alike. His retirement is a real loss to the department and the University of Dayton.

- David Johnson, Department of Chemistry chair

Return to top of page.

Linda Hartley
Professor Emerita

Dr. Linda Hartley, professor of music and associate dean in the School of Education and Health Sciences, leaves an extraordinary legacy of contributions to the University and to music education on our campus, in our community, and beyond.

Dr. Hartley earned her Bachelor of Music Education at Bowling Green State University, and a Master of Music and Ph.D. in Music Education at Kent State University. In 1991, she was appointed as the coordinator for music education at UD, and also served as a coordinator for athletic bands until 1999, directing the Flyer Pep Band and Pride of Dayton Marching Band, and teaching a wide range of music education courses. From 2002-2015 she was the coordinator for graduate music education, creating and directing the master’s degree program.

Dr. Hartley was recognized in 2000 with the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teacher Award, and in 2003 with the University of Dayton Outstanding Teaching Award. She has been a beloved and revered mentor to generations of students, many of whom are now leading music educators in our area and around the country.

In 2000, she established the New Horizons Band program for older adults learning or reviving skills as instrumentalists. In addition to providing music-making opportunities for community members, Dr. Hartley has made New Horizons a place for UD music education students to practice their conducting. She will continue to direct this program in retirement.

Dr. Hartley’s scholarly record includes publications in major music education journals and presentations at leading conferences. In addition to her work on music learning for older adults, she has written on gender issues facing women band directors, retention of students in school music programs and other aspects of music pedagogy. Her service to the profession, has included chairing the Ohio Music Education Association annual conference and editing the OMEA’s newsletter.

- Julia Randel, Department of Music chair

Return to top of page.

Teri Thompson
Professor Emerita

Teresa L. Thompson came to the University of Dayton in 1985 with an expertise in health communication and disability studies. She had previously been a faculty member at the University of Delaware. Teri taught a wide range of courses over the years, although her primary responsibilities have been in delivering the department’s gateway course, Communication Theories and Research, graduate methods courses, and in creating and delivering two different health communication courses and a course titled Dialogue, Diversity and Power.

Over the years Teri has cultivated a following of alumni whose lives she significantly impacted in a variety of positive ways. In fact, one of those students partially endowed a scholarship in her name. Teri’s impact has gone well beyond her students.

She was the founder and longtime editor of what has become the leading journal in the field of health communication, authored seven books, 30 peer-reviewed articles, and performed work for entities like the World Health Organization. She has advised numerous theses and reviewed for several dissertations over the years, mentoring several future doctoral students and faculty members. Teri also served the department as graduate director, as a member of the CAOP Leadership Committee and she has made numerous other contributions to the life of the profession and department.

Teri has had a penchant for late night work, and would often reply to emails in the late night and early morning hours. She was tirelessly dedicated to her students, relentlessly supportive of her colleagues and utterly dedicated to advancing the mission of the University. Teri was a convert to Catholicism, and embraces her faith as a foundational part of her life through a number of services and communal activities to help those in need. She is often the first person to lend a hand, even opening her home to help those in need. A consummate professional and colleague, she is in no small way a major factor in the development of the current Department of Communication. We wish her long days and pleasant nights as she spends time with her family, and in particular her grandson.

- Joseph Valenzano, Department of Communication chair

Return to top of page.


College of Arts and Sciences

O'Reilly Hall
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 0800