Nine LSUS professors receive endowed professorship appointments
Nine LSU Shreveport professors have received endowed professorship appointments for the 2023-24 academic year.
The LSUS Foundation manages endowments that support 47 professorships and five department chairs, allowing LSU Shreveport to attract and retain talented faculty members. These endowments are part of the foundation’s donor-funded $31 million portfolio that yielded more than $1.2 million in direct support for LSU Shreveport students and faculty this past year alone.
“The endowments recognize professors who are doing outstanding work and allow them to have professional development opportunities that otherwise would not be available to them. Private donors make this possible, and we owe them a debt of gratitude,” said LSUS Foundation Executive Director Laura Perdue.
In the past, professors have used funds generated by the endowments for diverse activities, including a study of water quality in the Red River Watershed; participation in professional conferences; equipment purchases to expand online learning access for students; and public lectures across several academic disciplines.
“We are delighted to add a new group of distinguished and hardworking faculty to the number of our endowed professors,” said LSU Shreveport Provost Dr. Helen Taylor. “The Louisiana Board of Regents and our generous donors have made it possible for these faculty to enhance and improve their programs and to travel to conferences to present their research and gain new knowledge from their peers across the world. They are ambassadors for LSUS, taking recognition of our name and our brand wherever they go.”
The new appointments are:
Dr. Kayla Shearer, Bruce & Steve Simon Endowed Professorship in Language & Literature
Dr. Shearer joined the LSUS faculty in 2022 as an instructor of English. She previously held several positions at the University of Texas in Austin while pursuing graduate degrees. She received a bachelor’s degree in English from Rice University. She earned master’s and doctoral degrees in English from the University of Texas. Her areas of concentration are medieval dream and vision literature; Middle English poetry; Renaissance drama and poetry; psychoanalysis and literature; new historicism; inclusive teaching and learning.
This professorship was endowed by brothers Bruce and Steve Simon to help the LSUS College of Liberal Arts attract and retain highly qualified faculty members. The Simons attended LSUS in its early days and have supported the university for more than 40 years.
Dr. Melissa Hawthorne, Capital One Endowed Professorship in Education
Dr. Hawthorne joined the LSUS faculty in 2015. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Education. Her primary interests involve student cognition and motivation and how these variables promote or hinder academic success, as well as the science of cognition and how it can be used to improve student outcomes. She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Texas A&M University-Texarkana. She earned master’s degrees in psychology and counseling and a doctorate in educational psychology from Texas A&M University-Commerce.
This professorship was endowed by Capital One Bank to help LSUS attract and retain highly qualified faculty in the College of Education.
Dr. Stuart Nielsen, LSU Shreveport Museum of Life Sciences Endowed Curatorship
Dr. Stuart Nielsen joined the LSUS faculty in the fall of 2021. Prior to that, he worked at the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida, where he was a postdoctoral researcher in the Division of Herpetology. He is an organismal evolutionary biologist interested in cataloging, describing, and conserving Earth’s biodiversity, especially reptiles and amphibians, as well as attempting to understand the underlying processes that are responsible for such biodiversity. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Brigham Young University, a master’s degree in biology from Villanova University and a doctorate in biology from the University of Mississippi.
A generous gift established the Museum of Life Sciences Endowed Curatorship in 2014. The Museum of Life Sciences, located on the LSUS campus, has an extensive collection of freshwater mullosks nd recently contributed to the body of knowledge at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. The Life Sciences Museum also has collections of bird, mammal, amphibian, reptile, insect, plant, crawfish, and spider species.
Dr. Chris Hale, Sybil T. and Frederick Patten Endowed Professorship for Excellence in Teaching in Liberal Arts
Chris Hale joined the LSUS faculty in 2007. He is a professor of Criminal Justice and program director at Louisiana State University Shreveport. He received his doctorate in criminal justice from Sam Houston State University. He earned his master’s degree in experimental psychology from Emporia State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Kansas State University. He is a former member of the United States Army Reserve. His areas of concentration include terrorism, cybercrime, and multiple murder. Before joining the LSUS faculty, Dr. Hale was the associate director of information technology for the Institute for the Study of Violent Groups, where he was the chief architect of a database capable of tracking thousands of global and domestic extremist groups. The database was one of five finalists chosen for the Mitretek Innovations Award in Homeland Security. Dr. Hale has presented numerous research papers at international, national, regional, state, and local conferences and has published in numerous professional publications. He has contributed to or co-authored several books and is a former instructor for the International Law Enforcement Academy in Roswell, New Mexico.
Sybil T. and J. Frederick Patten endowed this scholarship to recognize outstanding teaching in the College of Liberal Arts and allow a faculty member to enhance his or her teaching skills, explore new teaching techniques and share knowledge with other faculty members.
Dr. Qingsong Zhao, Wheless, Meadows, and Sartor Endowed Rising Star Professorship in Computer Science
Dr. Zhao joined the LSUS faculty in 2020 as an assistant professor of computer science. He earned a master’s degree in computer engineering from Shangdong University in China and a doctorate in computer software and theory from the Institute of Software at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He is a dedicated, enthusiastic information technology professional with more than 14 years of healthcare industry IT experience. He has been the principal investigator on several grant-funded research projects.
The Wheless, Meadows and Sartor Endowed Rising Star Professorship in Computer Science honors the late N.H. “Nick” Wheless Jr., Willis Meadows C. Lane Sartor, three Shreveport businessmen who were active in the region’s oil and gas industry. The men were dedicated philanthropists who supported arts and education in the community.
Dr. Michael Meeks, Elmer N. and Barbara Simon Endowed Professorship for Excellence in Teaching
Dr. Meeks is a serial entrepreneur from Silicon Valley, where he founded and managed over 30 successful new companies. He joined the LSUS faculty in 2012 and is an associate professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategic Management in LSUS’s College of Business. Dr. Meeks is the principal investigator of a large research project studying the North Louisiana Entrepreneurship Ecosystem. He has a B.S.E.E degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of the Pacific, and an MBA from the University of San Diego. He earned his doctorate at the University of Colorado in Boulder. His areas of expertise include entrepreneurship, strategic management, small business management, future thinking, design thinking, family business, personality, crisis management, entrepreneurial intentions, ambidexterity, firm lifecycle, entrepreneurship education, strategic management education, the future of higher education, entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems, entrepreneurial mindset, pitching, unconscious incompetence, innovation, creativity, leadership, wealth creation, management of technology, blockchain, the fourth industrial revolution, the gig economy, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtual and augmented reality, generational differences, and attention scattering.
This professorship was endowed by brothers Bruce and Steve Simon to honor their parents, the late Elmer N. and Barbara Simon. The endowment rewards outstanding faculty members. The Simons attended LSUS in its early days and have supported the university for more than 40 years.
Dr. Vonny Salim, LSUS Alumni Association Vincent J. Marsala Endowed Professorship in Teaching Excellence
Dr. Salim joined the LSUS faculty in 2018. She is an assistant professor of biology. She earned an associate degree in science from Green River Community College in Auburn, Washington; a bachelor of science degree in biotechnology/biochemistry from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland; and a doctor of philosophy in biochemistry from Brock University in Canada. Her research interests are in the biosynthesis, function, and application of plant-derived natural products for human health and the cellular machineries and dynamics of phytochemicals for further integration into human disease treatment and prevention, such as in cancer therapy. Her projects include leading students in an interdisciplinary approach to studying plant-based anti-cancer compounds, a study she’s conducting through a collaboration with colleagues from LSU Health Sciences Center-Shreveport.
The LSUS Alumni Association created this endowment to honor the late Dr. Vincent J. Marsala, who served on the LSUS faculty for 45 years. Dr. Marsala rose to become the LSUS chancellor from 1995 until his retirement in 2012.
Dr. Joyce Farrow, Wesson-Bridger Endowed Professorship in Teacher Education
Dr. Joyce Farrow is an assistant professor and the chair of the Department of Education in the College of Education at LSU Shreveport, where she teaches undergraduate courses in language arts, reading, and special education as well as graduate courses in reading. Dr. Farrow holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary and Special Education from the University of Missouri St. Louis, a Master of Education degree in K-12 Reading from University of Missouri St. Louis, a Master of Education in Administration and Supervision from Charleston Southern University, and a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on Urban Education and Literacy from the University of North Carolina Charlotte. Dr. Farrow has been an educator for the past 32 years and has taught elementary reading, elementary special education, and middle school reading to students in Missouri, South Carolina, and North Carolina and before moving to Louisiana and joining the faculty at LSU Shreveport in Fall of 2020. Dr. Farrow’s research interests include early childhood literacy, culturally relevant pedagogy and literacy education, assessment in teacher education, and the unique challenges of those who are twice exceptional, particularly those who are both gifted and have a learning disability.
Dr. Gale W. Bridger endowed this professorship in memory of her parents Corrie and George Wesson, and her mother-in-law, Nettie Jones Bridger. Mr. and Mrs. Wesson instilled in their two daughters a love of learning and a respect for the value of formal education. Mrs. Bridger was a longtime educator who taught Dr. Gale Bridger in the seventh grade.
The reappointments are:
Dr. Beverly Burden, Dr. Richard K. Speairs Endowed Professorship in Field Biology
Dr. Burden joined the LSUS faculty in 1994. She has been studying insects for 34 years. She is a 35-year member of the Entomological Society of America and Beta Beta Beta. She has made numerous presentations to both community and professional groups. She is the co-director and host of the popular radio show, “What’s Buggin You?” on Red River Radio. It is a live call-in show where she fields all questions on insects, spiders and other arthropods. She is well known in the area as the Bug Doc or the Bug Lady. Her research focuses on discovering naturally produced insecticides and bactericides that are produced in plants.
The late Dr. Richard K. Speairs, a founding faculty member at LSUS, endowed this professorship to attract and retain highly qualified faculty members for the LSUS College of Science. In addition to teaching at LSUS, Dr. Speairs was chair of the LSUS Biology Department until his retirement in 1987.
Dr. Cheryl White, Hubert Humphreys Endowed Professor of History
Dr. White joined the LSUS faculty in 1998. She is a professor of history. In addition to teaching, she is the academic coordinator for the Spring Street Museum in Shreveport. Her research interests include medieval and early modern Europe, the history of Christianity, local and regional history, historical folklore, the Shroud of Turin and religious relics. She has written or co-authored several books and is a popular speaker. Her research has helped build a case for sainthood for five Catholic priests who gave their lives tending to the sick and dying during the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1873 in Shreveport.
This endowment honors the late Hubert D. Humphreys, a founding faculty member at LSUS. In addition to teaching, he helped plan and implement the LSUS Archives and the LSUS Oral History Program. This professorship recognizes outstanding performance by a professor in the LSUS History and Social Sciences Department.