New Faculty, Batten Professors

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Virginia Wesleyan welcomes five faculty members to campus community, honors Batten Professors

September 21, 2011

Four new faculty members joined the Virginia Wesleyan College family as of fall semester 2011. They include two visiting assistant professors in mathematics, Dr. Audrey Malagon and Dr. Kristin Burney; an assistant professor in sociology and criminal justice, Dr. Thomas Brown; and an assistant professor in communication, Dr. Lisa Lyon Payne. Another new faculty member, Dr. Aubrey L. Westfall, came to VWC in the spring of this year. Dr. Westfall is an assistant professor of political science. The College also recently announced the selection of a new group of Batten Professors. Welcome and congratulations to our distinguished faculty.

altAssistant Professor of Criminal Justice and Sociology

B.A., University of California, Santa Cruz
Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University

Thomas Brown comes to Virginia Wesleyan from Northeast Lakeview College in Texas, where he was an assistant professor and program director for their Criminal Justice and Sociology, Social and Behavioral Sciences Department. Some of his current research interests include how recently established veterans courts fit into the American specialty courts ecosystem; the social correlates of fear of terrorism; and the historical relationship between the petrochemical industry and organized crime on the Texas Gulf Coast. Dr. Brown also enjoys playing jazz and blues on guitar and organ.

Why he chose Virginia Wesleyan: "During my first short visit here, the warm and welcoming campus culture and the high level of engagement among students and faculty were immediately apparent."

altVisiting Assistant Professor of Mathematics

B.S., Northwestern University
M.S., Ph.D., Virginia Commonwealth University

Originally from New Jersey, Kristin Burney has lived and studied around the country as well as in Stavanger, Norway. Her bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees are in biomedical engineering, but her diverse professional background includes biomedical research, materials research, teaching, tutoring, mentoring, and freelance editing. From 2000 to 2005, Burney worked as an engineering student trainee at NASA Langley, where she completed her dissertation in nanomaterials processing for aerospace and biotechnology. She has also coached track and gymnastics. She is married and has two children.

Why she chose Virginia Wesleyan: "I chose VWC because my experiences have led me toward a desire to help develop capable and responsible members of society who are prepared to achieve their goals. I believe that VWC's intimate campus will enable me to focus on just that."

altVisiting Assistant Professor of Mathematics

B.A., Agnes Scott College
Ph.D., Emory University

Audrey Malagon joins Virginia Wesleyan from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia where she was an assistant professor of mathematics. Her research interests include Lie algebras, quadratic forms and Galois cohomology. She was a founding officer of the Association for Women in Mathematics, Emory student chapter. Malagon lives in Virginia Beach with her husband, one-year-old daughter and two dogs and loves watching college football, cooking and reading.

Why she chose Virginia Wesleyan: "As a graduate of a liberal arts college, I am excited about the small classes and opportunity to get to know the students. I am passionate about helping students increase their confidence and skills in the area of mathematics and look forward to working with the students and faculty at VWC."

Assistant Professor of Communication

altB.A., College of William and Mary
M.S., University of Tennessee
Ph.D., University of Georgia

Lisa Lyon Payne is a native of Virginia Beach and a graduate of Norfolk Academy. Before moving back to the area in 2004, she was an assistant professor of communication at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. She was delighted to be offered the opportunity for a full-time position after having taught as an adjunct professor at Virginia Wesleyan College for the past six years. In addition to her teaching experience, Lyon Payne has worked as a public relations consultant, research analyst, editorial assistant and writer. Outside of her academic endeavors, she enjoys tennis, the beach and time with her husband and two sons.

Why she chose Virginia Wesleyan: "Teaching at Virginia Wesleyan really allows me the opportunity to collaborate with, engage and inspire students who are interested in the field of communication. I really enjoy the rapport I can have with individual students at a small liberal arts institution like VWC."

Assistant Professor of Political Science

B.A., Westmont College
M.A., Ph.D., University of Colorado

Aubrey Westfall completed her dissertation, entitled Breaking the Bonds of Blood: The Politics of Family Migration in Europe, in 2010. Her research interests include the politics of international migration, identity politics, and minority politics. Her regional specialization is Western Europe. Westfall is an avid runner and traveler. She enjoys reading novels and watching the television show "Modern Family." She loves good food and firmly believes that bacon makes everything better.

Why she chose Virginia Wesleyan: "After teaching at a large institution and seeing the way students are "processed," I wanted to interact with students in a more meaningful way. Teaching is the best way to make a difference in the world, and teaching at a liberal arts college is the best way to influence individual lives."

New Batten Professors Announced

Virginia Wesleyan Vice President for Academic Affairs Timothy O'Rourke recently announced the selection of a new group of Batten Professors. Batten Professorship is an award for faculty excellence in teaching and scholarship, community contributions, and passion for inspiring excellence in others. Faculty awarded the Batten Professorship carry the title for three years, during which time they have access to a special development fund. Chosen by the division chairs, the new Batten Professors are:

Dr. Soraya Bartol (Biology)
Dr. Craig Jackson (Psychology)
Dr. Malcolm Lively (Education)
Dr. Susan Wansink (German)

The new Batten Professors join the following holdover designees:

Dr. Stuart Minnis
Dr. Kathy Stolley
Dr. John Wang

Mr. Philip Guilfoyle
Dr. Elizabeth Malcolm
Ms. Sharon Payne
Ms. Denise Wilkinson
Dr. Cathal Woods

Photos by Janice Marshall-Pittman.