Faculty and Staff in the News

April 19, 2016

Dr. Elizabeth Cooper Assumes Nursing Dean Role

Dr. Elizabeth Cooper

Dr. Elizabeth Cooper

Elizabeth A. Cooper, D.N.P., R.N., who was named Director of the B.S.N. Programs in June 2015, has been appointed Dean of the School of Nursing and Director of the M.S.N. Programs.  She served previously as Assistant Professor of Nursing in the A.S.N. and M.S.N. Programs and was involved in the development of the B.S.N. and M.S.N. Programs. Dr. Cooper previously served as an Adjunct Instructor at Cumberland University and has held nursing positions at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and St. Thomas Hospital.  Prior to relocating to Nashville, she served in patient care and charge nurse positions at Baylor University Medical Center, Seton Medical Center, and Central Texas Medical Center in her native Texas. Dr. Cooper has also served in the United States Air Force and the United States Air National Guard, where she currently holds the rank of Major. Cooper earned undergraduate graduate degrees in Accounting and Nursing (A.A.S. and B.S.N.) from Dallas County Community College and Texas Woman’s University, respectively, and graduate degrees in Nursing (M.S.N. and D.N.P.) from Vanderbilt University.  She also holds United States Air Force Flight Nurse Certification and United States Air Force Professional Development Certification. Dr. Cooper will continue to serve as Interim Director of the B.S.N. Programs.

Welcome Back, Sister Thomas More

Sister Thomas More Stepnowski, O.P.

Sister Thomas More Stepnowski, O.P.

Sister Thomas More Stepnowski, O.P. returned to Aquinas in late October to serve as Provost and Vice President for Academics, having previously acted in a similar capacity before leaving to complete her doctorate. She received a B.A. in English from the University of Dallas, an M.Ed. in English from Belmont University, and completed her Ph.D. in Theology at the Maryvale Institute, Liverpool-Hope University with the dissertation “The Training of the Imagination in the Published Works of Conrad Pepler, O.P. and Gerald Vann, O.P.” She has presented and written widely on the topic of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Catholic Imagination.

When asked about what has changed the most since her return, Sister remarked about the regional outreach of the Center for Faith and Culture, the Center for Catholic Education’s talks to Catholic schools across the nation, and the Office of Catechetics’ Catechesis of the Good Shepherd training internationally.

She cites the Dominican aspect as what sets the College apart. She observed, “Aquinas offers unique opportunities that are rooted in the Dominican tradition. Freshmen all take College Learning in the Dominican Tradition which introduces them to the importance of a liberal education and includes attending Compline at the Motherhouse. In addition, students and faculty meet to discuss philosophic and theological topics in the Socratic Club and the Synaxis of St. John the Divine. The Dominican imprint can also be found during AquinasAbroad’s first weekend trip in Italy to the area which formed the young St. Thomas Aquinas, Rocca Secca and Montecassino, as well as visits to Santa Sabina, the mother church of the Dominicans.”

As for her new role at Aquinas, Sister said, “As the chief academic officer, I seek ways to support the faculty and deans in order to provide a vibrant academic setting for the students.  I hope to accomplish this  by strengthening processes and collaborating with other support units, such as the library, registrar, Student Learning Services.”

Other Faculty and Staff Activities

Sr Elizabeth Anne by Jeanne Marie Liggio

Sister Elizabeth Anne, O.P.

Since August, Sister Elizabeth Anne Allen, O.P., Director of the Center for Catholic Education, delivered numerous talks to Catholic teachers and principals at conferences and schools in Arkansas, Tennessee, South Dakota, Virginia, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, and New York. Sister, along with her colleagues Sister Matthew Marie, O.P.; Sister Mary Anne, O.P., Dean of the School of Education; Sister Martha Ann, O.P.; and Dr. Hope Link attended the World Congress on Catholic Education in Rome in November. Pope Francis addressed the attendees at the conclusion of the conference which was held in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Vatican II’s Gravissimum Educationis and the 25th anniversary of Pope Saint John Paul II’s Ex Corde Ecclesiae.

Richard Bulzacchelli, S.T.D., Associate Professor of Theology and Senior Fellow at the St. Paul Institute for Biblical Theology, wrote an article entitled “The ‘Ex Corde College’: From the Particular Experience of a Theologian at Aquinas College To General Principles for Application,” for the annual meeting of the Cardinal Newman Society college presidents.

Sister Matthew Marie Cummings, O.P., Professor of Education, authored forewords in two books: The Hounds of the Lord: Great Dominican Saints Every Catholic Should Know (Sophia Institute Press, 2015) by Kevin Vost, and The Timeless Dominic: A Commentary on the O Lumen (Cluny Media, 2015) by Father Richard Thomas Aquinas Murphy, O.P.

Elizabeth R. Donlon, Ed.D., adjunct in the School of Education, published an article entitled “Choose to Be Slow” on the Nourish Motherhood blog (nourishmotherhood.com). For her ENG 400/500: Children’s Literature, Speech, and Drama class, Dr. Donlon has launched a blog in 2014 for students to review works of both modern and classic children’s literature. Apart from including a general synopsis, the reviews explore how the books can awaken the child’s moral imagination. Visit the blog at donlonchildrenslit.wordpress.com.

Jesse Fortney CMYK

Jesse W. Fortney

Jesse W. Fortney, formerly Vice President for Enrollment Management, has been promoted to Vice President for Institutional Engagement. The new position oversees the Office of Admissions and the Office of Advancement. Jesse arrived at Aquinas in the summer of 2014 with his wife Marsha, son Bradyn (14) and Lainey (9).

Jason Gale

Jason Gale

Jason Gale, Director of the Catechist Formation Program, received a Master of Arts Degree through the Maryvale Institute (Birmingham, U.K.) in Religious Education and Catechesis. His thesis was on “The Pedagogical Principle of Fidelity to God and Fidelity to Man.” Jason, his wife Lisa, and four children moved from his home state of Texas  to Tennessee after Jason accepted his position in the summer of 2015.

Teri Hasenour Gordon, adjunct in the School of Business, addressed the Nashville Catholic Business Women’s League (NCBWL) in October on the topic “Wills, Trust, and Powers of Attorney: Basic Information Everyone Should Know.”

Cathy Hendon

Cathy Hendon

Cathy Hendon, Ed.D., Coordinator of Career Services, published her doctoral dissertation on the topic of “An Analysis of Faculty Advising Support at a Small, Private, Christian University in the Southeast.” Cathy assumed her full-time role in January 2016 after serving in a part-time role for the past two years.

Vincent T. Ryan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of History, had his article “The Sacred & the Profane: Understanding the Motives of the First Crusaders” published in the September-October 2015 issue of The St. Austin Review.

Benjamin L. Smith, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Philosophy, presented on “Defining the Common Good: the Beginning of Political Wisdom According to Thomas Aquinas” at the Patristic, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies Conference at Villanova University in Philadelphia in October. And in December, the Imaginative Conservative published Dr. Smith’s article on “In Defense of the Old Republic: Reclaiming the Common Good.”

Sister Thomas More Stepnowski, O.P., Provost and Vice President for Academics, recently had two articles published: “A Distinctive Way of Looking at Things” on Conrad Pepler, O.P. and Laudato Si in the March-April  issue of Faith Magazine in the United Kingdom, and another on “Desire and Wonder: Essential Elements in Catechesis” in the April issue of The Catechetical Review.