Biographies of Fellows

Kathleen S. Lowney, Fellow-in-Residence

Kathe earned her undergraduate double majors in Comparative Religions and Sociology (with honors) at the University of Washington in 1981. She took the summer off from college and went directly to a PhD program at Drew University, earning her M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees in Religion and Society. She came to Valdosta State in 1987, to join her husband, Frank Flaherty, who already was on the faculty.

New to teaching, she had some rough moments as she tried to develop her own teaching style. Teaching came easier though, than publishing did. Getting publishing was hard; it wasn't until she found a mentor during her 1992 NEH Summer Seminar on Social Problems: The Constructionist Stance that she learned some of the "tricks" about getting published. Since then, she has written two books, over thirty research articles and book chapters, and co-edited several syllabi collections with some of her VSU sociology colleagues for the American Sociological Association.

Since 1989, she has been active in scholarship of teaching and learning activities in sociology and in particular, in the Midwest Sociological Society and the American Sociological Association. In 2009, she applied to become editor of the American Sociological Association's sole pedagogical journal, Teaching Sociology, and she has been editor since January 2010. Her tenure as editor will end in December 2014. The journal receives almost two hundred manuscripts (original and revisions) a year.

In 2011 she received the VSU College of Arts and Sciences' Excellence in Teaching award and also became the winner of VSU's Excellence in Teaching Award. In 2012, she won the Felton Jenkins, Jr. Hall of Fame Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching in the University System of Georgia. In 2014, she won the American Sociological Association's Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award. This is the ASA's highest pedagogical award.

Starting a writing project is very difficult for her; while she has tried to write every day, that just doesn't fit her teaching schedule and her life, though every January 1, she makes a resolution to try it again! In 2013, the IDEA Center writing groups helped her to focus and commit to writing three times a week. This helped - she finished her 3rd book this past July! But once she can clear a block of time, find the right music, and can get into the flow of writing, something almost magical happens!

Li-Mei Chen, Technology and Education Fellow

Li-Mei received her Ph.D. from Ohio State University in second and foreign language education, with specialization of applied linguistics, minors in language testing and research methods. Before joining VSU, she taught English and a variety of college writing courses in several institutions in the United States and overseas.

She is a certified online course reviewer by Quality Matters, a leader in quality assurance for online education. Since she joined VSU, she has taught a variety of online courses. Even if she teaches in the physical classroom, she always incorporates different technologies into her classes to motivate and engage students. Due to a high demand for offering courses via distance learning technologies at VSU, she has developed numerous entirely online courses for her department's undergraduate programs and for the ESOL endorsement program She has also developed courses for her department's new onine M.A. program in English Studies.

Li-Mei's research interest, greatly influenced by her teaching, is focused on how to integrate technologies to enhance teaching and learning, with a focus on language education. She has published many research articles in refereed journals in this area and has shared her research results at different educational technology conferences. Moreover, she has been awarded many grants to support her professional development. One of them is a development grant for online course enhancement and development. She keeps updating her knowledge by continuously attending workshops and training programs to learn online course design and pedagogy. The workshops, along with training programs she has taken, have provided her with a solid foundation in understanding online educational issues and expanded her knowledge in teaching online courses.

Li-Mei has enthusiasm to help colleagues in using technologies to enhance their teaching. She has constantly shared her successful examples with colleagues at VSU. She demonstrates to them how to develop learning modules and deal with challenges when teaching online. She also keeps sharing her experiences with colleagues outside the VSU community when meeting them at professional venues. She has found sharing her experiences with colleagues, in turn, helps her further develop pedagogically relevant and responsible skills of harnessing the available tools to improve her own practice and help her students learn effectively.

Raymond Elson, Community Engagement Fellow

Prior to academic, Dr. Elson worked in public accounting and internal auditing with such organizations as Coopers and Lybrand (now PricewaterhouseCoopers), American International Group and AXA-Equitable, all in New York. His primary teaching areas are in managerial accounting, government and not-for-profit accounting, and auditing. His research interest includes non-profit accounting and reporting issues (especially in religious organizations), corporate governance issues, and internal controls. Dr. Elson has presented his research at various regional and national meetings and has published in a number of academic and practitioner journals, including the Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues, the Journal of Accounting, Ethics, and Public Policy, the Journal of Business Cases and ApplicationsThe Academy of Accounting and Financial Studies JournalThe CPA Journal, and The Academy of Business Disciplines Journal.

Dr. Elson received the 2006 Rea and Lillian Steele Outstanding Teaching Award and the 2010-2011 Lea and Lillian Steele Outstanding Service Award. Dr. Elson is a member of the Georgia Society of CPAs (Valdosta Chapter), the American Institute of CPAs, and the Institute of Internal Auditors.

Darrell Fike, Teaching Fellow

Darrell Fike is a writing specialist in the Department of English. A graduate of the Writing Program at Florida State university, Darrell teaches undergraduate writing classes and graduate pedagogy/theory classes. His own writing and publications include academic, creative, and journalism. In addition to his Ph.D. from Florida State, he has a master's in professional writing and a bachelor's degree in magazine journalism from the University of Memphis. He has served as a faculty member at VSU for fifteen years.

"It was my pleasure to participate in an IDEA Center teaching circle last year. I very much enjoyed sharing experiences and ideas with faculty across the campus. Like many of us, I spend most of my time wearing a rut in the hallway between my office and the classrooms in which I teach, so it was a refreshing change to meet in the charming Center house and engage in lively conversations with other teachers. Not only did I pick up some good ideas and new techniques, I was reminded that teaching can be inspirational and fun, and that one of the best sources of information about best practices is other teachers."

Ellen Lorraine Friedrich, Diversity and Social Equity Fellow

Although Ellen began her senior year at the University of Georgia as an undecided major—after majoring in math for one year and biology for another—she graduated magna cum laude with an Ars Bacheloris in Spanish. After teaching a number of different subjects including French and Spanish at Northside Junior High School in Warner Robins, GA, Ellen returned to UGA for an MAT in Romance Languages. A Fulbright exchange in France and two years teaching and directing programs in a language school in Lisbon, Portugal, interrupted her years of teaching in Charleston, SC, schools (a high school and a magnet school) and colleges (The Citadel and the College of Charleston). A return to graduate school for a Ph.D. in Romance Philology set her on her present course of university teaching and research, reinforced in 2003 by a Yale NEH Summer Seminar on the Old French Fabliaux and the Medieval Sense of the Comic.
Even though eventually privileged with an advanced education, Ellen went through a period of extreme difficulty in adolescence because of the absence due to illness of both of her parents. At the age of fourteen she learned to deal with food stamps before living in a foster home with her younger siblings and even less fortunate children. As a result, she became aware of just how precarious one’s present and future can be, and how one’s background can affect future choices.

She has taught classes in which students were all male, all female, all black, and all foreign which has given her an appreciation of differences—cultural, temperamental, in learning styles, etc., all contributing to her interest in integrating varied activities in the subjects she has taught—Arthurian Legends, English as a Foreign Language, Foreign Language Education, French, Honors, Latin, Perspectives, Portuguese, Spanish, and Women’s and Gender courses. Her interest in personality types in addition to learning styles, preferences, differences, and difficulties leads her to encourage her students to reflect upon and understand how best and most effectively they learn, and she was thrilled last year when a student brought her information on what he felt most affected his learning. As soon as VSU President McKinney arrived on campus, she wrote him regarding the importance of hiring someone to screen and test students for learning disabilities, and to work with them to ensure their success.

Her experiences studying, living, teaching, and performing other work abroad—including directing study abroad programs—led to her conviction that every student should have the opportunity to spend quality time abroad, and to that end, she established the Eneida Sanderson Pugh Study Abroad Scholarship which she works towards funding.

Her research interests, presentations, and publications usually involve questions of classical, medieval, and modern gender through five or more languages and cultures which means she struggles to carve out sequential blocks of six to ten or more hours of continuous concentration necessary to focus on her material and produce a few good paragraphs. Her work on film, music, and dance that she often uses in class often require a little less time. Related to her research interests she has sponsored many students’ presentations and served as Book Review Editor for Romance Literatures for Arthuriana, the journal of the International Arthurian Society, and on the Editorial Board of Medieval Perspectives, the journal of Southeastern Medieval Association. She was selected as the Teacher of Excellence in 2010 by the Southern Conference on Language Teaching on whose Advisory Board she has also served.

Larry Hilgert, Technology and Education Fellow

My early and present-day career choices were shaped by field experiences during my sophomore year of college.  On weekends I worked as a student assistant at Indiana University Medical School’s Institute for Psychiatric Research in a lab formerly used by B.F. Skinner. During the week I volunteered as a teacher’s aide at an Association for Retarded Citizens at a time when public education did not serve special needs children. In 1974 I earned a BA in psychology from Indiana University and one year later a master’s degree in pre-clinical psychology from Ball State University. The following year I was employed as temporary faculty at Indiana Central University (now University of Indianapolis).

From those early experiences grew an appreciation for the technologies associated with psychology and the importance of a field-based perspective in higher education. Technical and field-based applications continued to more formally evolve during my doctoral experiences in the school psychology program at Ball State University. Following graduation in 1983, I came to the Psychology & Counseling Department at Valdosta State for my first full-time faculty position. I completed state and national certification as a school psychologist and was awarded tenure at VSU.

In 1988, I earned licensure as a psychologist in Georgia, and the School Psychology Program at Valdosta State became Georgia’s first specialist degree program in school psychology to receive national recognition. One year later my doctorate in education from Ball State was changed to a doctorate of philosophy since I had completed a relatively rigorous research program and a relatively high-tech dissertation during doctoral training. My subsequent appointment as a Georgia teaching fellow as well as assisting with the development of the e-Core psychology course, podcasting and participation in e-learning Quality Matters, and affiliation with the iDocs group have enhanced my technical skills in and about the classroom. Contractual services through VSU to Head Start and Brooks County have brought a continuum of field-based experiences.

Technical emphasis soon became a major component of the school psychology program through the implementation of video conferencing using the Georgia State Medical and Academic System (GSAMS) for weekly practicum and internship classes. In 1998, VSU became the first Ed.S. school psychology program in the country  to submit e-portfolios on CD as part of an accreditation report (currently found as e-portfolios in LiveText). National approval in school psychology was also maintained until the program’s deactivation in 2013-14. Still involved in field-based instruction through clinical practicum, I hope to continue using video conferencing with Live Classroom and other forms of distance communication such as Second Life in an effort to reach rural areas that have challenges to access. I also plan to work with school systems in South Georgia and the Georgia Association of School Psychologists in providing continuing education in school safety. Interest in the curricular context for courses, technology, and field activities also continues with my recent appointment as an an assessment team member for NCATE/CAEP.

Peggy L. Moch, Research Fellow

I am a former inner city high school mathematics teacher from Orlando, Florida and a professor of mathematics education here at Valdosta State University (VSU) where I teach a variety of undergraduate and graduate mathematics education courses in face to face and online classes in the College of Arts and Sciences in the Mathematics and Computer Science Department. I graduated with a Ph.D. in 2002 from the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando, Florida where I was awarded the Order of Pegasus award, the highest award given to students.

While attending UCF I designed my doctoral curriculum such that a third of my studies were in mathematics, a third in statistics, and a third in curriculum and instruction. I tutored and assisted several doctoral students for statistical courses as well as helping others design, enter data, and analyze data for their dissertations. I have assisted with everything from simple t-test to one-way ANOVA, to repeated measures and single subject designs. Unlike some folks, believe it or not, I really enjoy running statistical analysis! :-) I have worked with several faculty members here at VSU and I am chairing two dissertation committees.

I am currently serving as an elected member of the Executive Council for the American Association for Teaching and Curriculum (AATC), elected President of the VSU chapter of the American Association for University Professors (AAUP), and I am serving on a national committee for School Science and Mathematics (SSMA). I am the immediate past International Vice President of Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education (KDP). My research interests are in pre-service teacher mathematics self-efficacy, mathematics anxiety, motivational theory, cross-curricular mathematics, and using technology in the classroom. I am currently co-authoring a new early childhood education mathematics content textbook for Kendall Hunt Publications as well as working on a variety of other papers for publication that are in various stages of completion.

In July 2013, I was asked to be VSU's representative on the Design Team for the new online pre-calculus course being developed for University System of Georgia institutions.