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 Terese Auer, O.P., Ph.D. Director, Student Learning Services Adjunct Lecturer in Philosophy

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

Sister Dominica Bickerton, O.P. Adjunct Instructor in Theology

M.A., Providence College
B.S., Boston University

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

B.S., Bethel University

Sister Mary Diana Dreger, O.P., M.D. Adjunct Assistant Professor in Interdisciplinary Studies and Theology

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.

Sister Elinor Gardner, O.P., Ph.D. Adjunct Associate Professor in Philosophy Arts & Sciences

Ph.D., Boston College
B.A., Saint Anselm College

Sister Elinor is a member of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia Congregation. She holds a Doctorate in Philosophy from Boston College. Her doctoral work was on the moral and political philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, with a dissertation titled, “St. Thomas Aquinas on Capital Punishment.” She has taught a broad range of undergraduate Philosophy courses at Aquinas College, as well as at The Catholic University of America and the University of Dallas. Her writing and research is focused on ethics and philosophical anthropology.

Sister Thomas Aquinas Halbmaier, O.P. Adjunct Instructor 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.

Katherine V. Haynes, Ph.D. Communications Writer Adjunct Professor in English

Ph.D., Middle Tennessee State University
M.T.S., Emory University
B.A., Mercer University

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 Adjunct Instructor in Spanish

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

Sister John Catherine Kennedy, O.P., Ph.D. Adjunct Assistant Professor 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 Mary Angelica Neenan, O.P.,, S.T.D. Adjunct Assistant Professor in Theology

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
B.A., Belmont College

Sister Nicholas Marie Polkowska, O.P., Ph.D. Adjunct Assistant Professor in Mathematics

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

Sister Mary Esther Potts, O.P. Librarian Adjunct Lecturer in Catechetics and English (615) 297-7545 x474

M.S., University of Tennessee, Knoxville
M.A., Middle Tennessee State University
M.A., St. Charles Borromeo Seminary
B.A., Aquinas College

Sister Mary Esther Potts, O.P. is a member of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation of Nashville, Tennessee and is the librarian at Aquinas College. She holds a Master of Science in Information Science from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. In addition, she has a Master of Arts in Systematic Theology from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, a Master of Arts in English from Middle Tennessee State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Aquinas College. She taught at both the elementary school and high school level and worked in the Vatican Secretariat of State before joining the faculty of Aquinas College as librarian.

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. Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness Associate 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 Mary Madeline Todd,, O.P., S.T.D. Lecturer, TheologyArts & Sciences

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
M.A., Franciscan University of Steubenville
M.A., The University of Memphis
B.S., Middle Tennessee State University

Sister Mary Madeline Todd, O.P. entered the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia in 1991. Sister Mary Madeline is a regular member of the Catholic Women’s Forum of the Ethics and Public Policy Center based in Washington, DC and an invited speaker for the International Seminar “Toward an Integral Feminine Theology” based in Rome. She writes on spiritual and moral theology, especially on the dignity of the human person in Christ. Her published writings include contributions to the books Promise and Challenge, Beautiful Mercy, and Pope Francis and the Event of Encounter. Her articles have also been published in L’Osservatore Romano, The Catechetical Review, and The National Catholic Register. She has spoken on both theological and literary topics nationally and internationally and also serves in retreat ministry, focusing on the healing and liberating truth and love experienced in encounters with Christ.

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.

Father Luke Wilgenbusch, S.T.L. Adjunct Instructor in Theology
Sister Anna Wray, O.P., Ph.D. Adjunct Assistant Professor 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. Adjunct 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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