Faculty — School of Arts & Sciences — Aquinas College, Nashville

Arts & Sciences Faculty

For profiles of Arts & Sciences faculty members by discipline, please visit the pages of the respective majors:

Faculty

Sister John Thomas Armour, O.P. Director of Student Learning Services Lecturer in English (615) 297-7545 x532

M.S., University of Tennessee
M.A., Augustine Institute (candidate)
B.A., University of Dallas

Sister John Thomas Armour, O.P. is the Director of Student Learning Services and a Lecturer in English at Aquinas College in Nashville, TN. She received Bachelors degrees in English and Theology from the University of Dallas and a Masters degree in English Education from the University of Tennessee and is currently completing a Masters in Theology from the Augustine Institute. She has served in retreat ministry and taught in parish and summer catechetical programs, in Level I Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, and in middle and high school classrooms. Sister is excited to serve the students in both their spiritual and professional formation.

Sister Terese Auer, O.P., Ph.D. Lecturer in Philosophy

Ph.D., University of St. Thomas
M.A., Univeristy of St. Thomas
B.A., Silver Lake College of the Holy Family

Kari Byard Assistant to the Vice President for Academics Lecturer in Information Systems (615) 297-7545 x449

B.S., Bethel University

Reverend Mark A. Chrismer Lecturer in Theology

M.Div., Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, St. Louis
M.A., Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, St. Louis
B.A., Truman State University

Sister Mary Diana Dreger, O.P., M.D. Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies

M.D., Vanderbilt University
M.A., Holy Apostles College and Seminary
M.A., State University of New York at Stony Brook
B.S., State University of New York at Stony Brook

Sister Mary Diana Dreger, O.P., M.D. is a physician practicing internal medicine since 2007 currently with Saint Martin Medical Care, caring for the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia in Nashville, Tennessee. Prior to this she worked for 10 years caring for a predominantly uninsured immigrant population. She graduated from Vanderbilt Medical School in 2001 as a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society and completed residency in internal medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 2004. She is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt in the Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine and Public Health, and is board-certified with the American Board of Internal Medicine and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. She earned a B.S. in biology and M.A. in mathematics before entering the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia Congregation in 1989. Sister is a member of the Catholic Medical Association (CMA) and serves as a national CMA speaker on topics related to education, medicine, faith, and ethics. She completed the National Catholic Bioethics Center certification program with distinction in 2011, and her paper “Autonomy Trumps All” was published in 2012 by the NCBC Quarterly. She holds a Master of Arts in moral theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary. Sister is a current instructor in the Arts & Sciences Programs at Aquinas College and previously served on the Board of Directors.

Jason Gale Director of the Center for Evangelization & Catechesis Website and Digital Media CoordinatorLecturer in Theology (615) 297-7545 x469
Sister Thomas Aquinas Halbmaier, O.P. Lecturer in Philosophy

B.A., Thomas Aquinas College

Sister Thomas Aquinas is a member of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation of Nashville, TN. She has been teaching for over 30 years, primarily in the disciplines of history and philosophy. In addition to teaching as an adjunct instructor in philosophy at Aquinas College, she is currently at St. Cecilia Academy, teaching the Senior Religion course in moral and spiritual theology which she restructured and launched as a Socratic seminar ten years ago. Sister Thomas Aquinas has most recently been serving at our mission in Bracciano, Italy, where she taught philosophy and Church history in the former Aquinas study abroad program.

Sister Mary Edith Humphries, O.P.,, Ph.D. Vice President for Academics Assistant Professor of English (615) 297-7545 x438

Ph.D., The Catholic University of America
M.A., The Catholic University of America
M.S., The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
B.A., University of Dallas

Heather H. Kemp Lecturer in Spanish

M.Ed., Tennessee State University
B.A., North Carolina State University

Sister John Catherine Kennedy, O.P., Ph.D. Lecturer in History

Ph.D., The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
M.A., The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
B.A., The Catholic University of America

Sister John Catherine is a member of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia Congregation. Sister John Catherine is a student of American History, particularly of the nineteenth and early twentieth century U.S. Her doctoral dissertation treated the intersection of Catholicism, race, and education in early twentieth-century Nashville with the founding of Holy Family Parish and Immaculate Mother Academy. Her interests extend to medieval European history as well. Sister John Catherine has taught History, English, and Religion to high school students for years, and currently teaches at St. Cecilia Academy while serving as an Aquinas College adjunct.

Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, O.P., S.T.D. Associate Professor of Theology (615) 297-7545 x263

S.T.D., Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas – Rome
S.T.L., Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas – Rome
S.T.B., Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas – Rome
M.A., University of Dallas
B.A., University of Dallas

Sr. Jane Dominic Laurel is a member of the St. Cecilia Congregation of Dominican Sisters of Nashville, Tennessee. She has been active in her religious community’s teaching apostolate for over fifteen years and has assists with the theological formation of the newest members of her religious congregation. In addition to contributing articles to a number of journals and magazines, including the Vatican newspaper (L’Osservatore Romano), The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, The Linacre Quarterly, and the Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings, Sister has served as editor-in-chief of her Congregation’s book, Praying as a Family (also available in Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic versions). With EWTN, she directed a television series of the same title. Before coming to Aquinas, she served as the creator and founding Director of the University of Dallas Studies in Catholic Faith & Culture Program.

Sister Nicholas Marie Polkowska, O.P., Ph.D. Lecturer in Mathematics

Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
M.S., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
B.S., Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Vincent Ryan, Ph.D. Associate Professor of History Director of Student Affairs (615) 297-7545 x443

Ph.D., St. Louis University
M.A., St. Louis University
B.A., University of San Francisco

Dr. Ryan’s teaching and scholarly interests include the Crusades, European civilization, revolutionary movements and their aftermath, the Cold War, and economic history. He is the co-editor of Crusades: Medieval Worlds in Conflict (Ashgate, 2010) and has written a variety of essays and reviews pertaining to the history of the Crusades. At St. Louis University, Dr. Ryan studied under the renowned Crusades historian Dr. Thomas F. Madden.

William C. Smart, Ph.D. Associate Provost Director of Institutional ResearchAssociate Professor of Biological Sciences (615) 297-7545 x478

Ph.D., University of Tennessee – Memphis
B.A., University of Tennessee – Knoxville

Dr. Smart is the Associate Provost in the Office of Academic at Aquinas, having served in that position since 2013. In addition, Dr. Smart oversees the Arts & Sciences programs, participating in the development of several new academic majors. Current administrative responsibilities include oversight of matters related to accreditation and directing institutional effectiveness processes. Dr. Smart’s interests in molecular biology include transcriptional regulation, protein biochemistry, and environmental impacts on microorganisms, topics that coincide well for the courses he teaches, especially General Biology and Ecosystems.

 

Sister Jean Marie Warner, O.P. Lecturer in History and Philosophy (615) 297-7545 x373

M.Ed., University of Southern Mississippi
M.A., Catholic University of America
B.A., Notre Dame College

Sister Jean Marie Warner, O.P. is a Dominican Sister of Saint Cecilia Congregation in Nashville, Tennessee. Her research emphasis is in medieval history with a special concentration in medieval political theory. Other research interest areas include Aristotelian and Thomistic concepts of virtue, medieval intellectual history, Dominican history and topics in early modern and modern European history and African history. She also teaches philosophy of education with an emphasis on the Thomistic concept of teaching and learning.

Sister Anna Wray, O.P., Ph.D. Lecturer in Philosophy

Ph.D., The Catholic University of America
Ph.L., The Catholic University of America
Ph.B., The Catholic University of America

 

Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P., S.T.D. Assistant Professor of Theology (615) 297-7545 x402

S.T.D., The Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas – Rome
S.T.L., The Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas – Rome
S.T.B., The Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas – Rome
B.A., St. John’s College

Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P. is a Dominican Sister of Saint Cecilia from Nashville. Originally from Seoul, she grew up near Philadelphia. She received a Bachelor of Arts in the Great Books Program at St. John’s College in Annapolis and teacher certification from Aquinas College. After teaching in Catholic schools and studying in the Master of Arts Program at the Center for Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, she was sent to Rome to complete her graduate studies at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum). Her dissertation was on spiritual motherhood according to St. Catherine of Siena. Having received her Doctorate in Sacred Theology in 2013, she taught theology at Catholic Pacific College and St. Mark’s College in the Archdiocese of Vancouver before joining the Aquinas College faculty in the Fall of 2018. In addition to teaching theology, she loves to give talks on the spiritual life and lead retreats.

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