Dr. Georgeen Polyak

Associate Professor

Public Health

Phone: (630) 829-6217  |  Send Dr. Polyak an Email  |  Office: Kindlon Hall 265

Georgeen Polyak is Chair of the Department of Public Health and Associate Professor at Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois.She teaches courses in health systems, health policy;and coordinates on campus student internships.Her primary research interest is in public health services and systems.She has published studies on the performance and funding of public health agencies.Prior to her teaching position, she was Director of Public Health for the Village of Oak Park, Illinois and worked at the Will County Health Department. She is a site reviewer for the Public Health Accreditation Board. She received her doctorate in Public Health Sciences from the University of Illinois at Chicago.


Dr. Jude-Marie Alexis Smalec

Assistant Professor

Public Health

Phone: (630) 829-2275  |  Send Dr. Alexis Smalec an Email  |  Office: Kindlon Hall 249

Jude-Marie Alexis Smalec joined the full-time MPH faculty at Benedictine University in 2014. She holds a Doctorate in Public Health (major in International Health, minors in Health Communication and Nutrition) from Tulane University School of Public Health &Tropical Medicine. Her Master's degree in Public Health (Nutrition major) was also obtained from Tulane University. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree and a post graduate Diploma in Community Health (Health Education major) from the University of the West Indies.

Dr. Alexis Smalec has more than 20 years of experience that includes work with Cornell, Benedictine, and Walden Universities, the University of the West Indies, Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, UNICEF, UNFPA, USAID, and l'agence Francophonie. Her international experience spanning several countries on various continents, has focused on a multitude of public health subjects including behavior change communication, health promotion, health and culture, intergenerational communication, HIV and AIDS, gender issues, sexuality and reproductive health. Dr. Alexis Smalec is a past International Fellow of the Kellogg Foundation and the Organization of American States. In her interaction with her online students, Dr. Alexis Smalec draws from her international public health experience to provide real world application of principles and concepts.

As an adjunct faculty member at Benedictine University from 2009-2014, Dr. Alexis Smalec taught the courses Social and Behavioral Aspects of Health, Media Technology and Health, and Cultural Context of Health Care, to students in the Master of Public Health and the dual MBA/MPH programs. She also mentored new faculty members and presented professional development webinars for staff. Dr. Alexis Smalec is an APA Style enthusiast. She completed and passed the very thorough course by the American Psychological Association, "APA Style: Mastering the Sixth Edition –An Online Course."

Dr. Alexis Smalec is very comfortable with online teaching technology, having taken time to study HTML and interactive educational software and media, at George Washington University. She is a member of several online professional groups that focus on technology in the academic environment. A Benedictine University nominee for the BestCollegesOnline.com 2013 Online College Professor of the Year contest, Dr. Alexis Smalec placed in the top 10 finalists in the competition. She delights in using new technologies and introducing them to students and colleagues.

Ms. Elizabeth Bormann


Public Health

Phone: (630) 829-6249  |  Send Ms. Bormann an Email  |  Office: Kindlon Hall 265

Elizabeth "Beth" Bormann received her Bachelor of Science degree in Community Health/Health Administration in 1994 and her Master of Public Health with a specialization in Health Promotion in 2003, both from Northern Illinois University (NIU). 
Her professional experience has included work in a hospital-based fitness center as an office coordinator, in a social service agency assisting developmentally disabled adults, and in a public health department in the epidemiology unit assisting with surveillance, program evaluation and report writing. 
Beth also has extensive experience in higher education. From 2005 - 2008, she was the Undergraduate Advisor/Practicum Coordinator for the Public Health Program at NIU where she advised junior and senior public health majors and oversaw the students while they completed their required public health internship. She also taught several different undergraduate courses in public health: epidemiology, environmental health, community health planning, and the organization of the public health and health care systems in the United States. 
From 2008 - 2011, Beth was the Director of Administrative Services for Lewis University's School for Professional and Continuing Education which houses the adult accelerated programs. She was responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the School, which included course scheduling, classroom assignments and course evaluation completion.

From 2007 - 2011, Beth taught part-time for the online MPH Program at Benedictine University. In September 2011, she became a full-time faculty member for the Master of Public Health program in the College of Education and Health Services at the Lisle campus of the University. Beth is very happy to be teaching her passion, public health, full-time again!

Beth is a member of the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE), the Illinois Chapter of the Society for Public Health Education (ISOPHE), the Illinois Public Health Association (IPHA) and two honor societies: the Alpha Eta Honor Society at NIU and Sigma Beta Delta at Benedictine University. She received the Students' Choice Award from Northern Illinois University's Student Association in May 2006. In April 2012, Beth received certification as a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) from the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing. This is a nationally recognized certification that demonstrates an individual's competency in the seven main areas of responsibility in health education. 

Beth is married with two children and enjoys reading, watching movies and relaxing with her dogs, two retired racing Greyhounds named Menlo and Lucy. She and her family currently reside in Downers Grove.


Dr. Susan Cheng

Department Chair and Assistant Professor

Public Health

Phone: (630) 829-6181  |  Send Dr. Cheng an Email  |  Office: Kindlon Hall 265

Dr. Susan Cheng joined the BenU MPH faculty full-time in 2013. Former to joining the faculty, she served as an adjunct faculty member for Trident International University in their MPH program. In addition, she served as a Principal Investigator, Project Manager, and Epidemiologist for the Emergency Preparedness Resources for Native Americans project in California from 2002-2013. She earned a MPH in Epidemiology from San Diego State University researching male endogenous hormones and bone mineral density, and a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of California, San Diego in the field of HIV research.

Dr. Cheng's primary research interests reside primarily in Maternal and Child Health and special populations. She is interested in the risk factors and health disparities among children with allergies and asthma, especially with respect to their microbiome. In addition, she is also interested in health outcomes for women and children during pregnancy and in early childhood, in the fields of gestational diabetes, post-partum depression, and infant mortality and birth outcomes. She has several publications in peer-reviewed journals, and has presented locally and nationally at a variety of public health conferences.

Dr. Cheng believes that research should be relevant, timely, and engage student participation and interest. She has organized and developed two MPH research symposia for the department in May and December 2014. She has also mentored a variety of student research projects on a range of topics from drug interaction and toxicity, to tobacco-free campus initiative, to HPV and cancer risks. She believes that a strong research portfolio should include opportunities for student participation and mentoring. She heads the quantitative courses for the MPH program.


Dr. David Milen

Assistant Professor

Public Health

Phone: (630) 829-2274  |  Send Dr. Milen an Email  |  Office: Kindlon Hall 249

 David Milen join Benedictine University in 2012. He was an adjunct faculty for 3- years, and is now recent addition as a full-time faculty member to the MPH program. His Doctorate is from Walden University in Community and Public Health, holds a Master's in Community and Public Health as well as Occupational Safety Management from both Walden University and Indiana State University. He also holds a Bachelor's degree from Northern Illinois University in Communications/Media Studies and has an English minor. Dr. David Milen's previous working experiences include being a firefighter /training officer for the Hammond Fire Department, and served as an ambulance captain wt for several years. Dr. Milen further pursued his career with Franciscan Alliance-Saint Margaret Health in Hammond, Indiana. He was the manager of safety and security, safety officer for two facilities, emergency preparedness and bioterrorism coordinator, and served as a member of the safety committee for the Alliance. He further worked alongside many hospitals within the Northwest Indiana Region to establish of the Northwest Indiana Patient Safety Coalition as a nonprofit organization where he served as executive director for 3 years. Dr. Milen was also the chairperson for the Bioterrorism Hospital Planning Committee within District One for the Northwest Indiana Region.Dr. Milen has spoken and published both nationally and internationally regarding public health emergencies, disaster and emergency planning, as well as behavioral health issues that are encountered during disasters. He has earned the distinction of the Timothy Galvin Award for outstanding community service and serving the community, and has also been awarded the Lake County Emergency Planning Committee's community service award for disaster and emergency planning. Dr. Milen has taught public health, public administration, health and safety, occupational safety management, as well as disaster and emergency preparedness courses globally.


Mrs. Joyce Cecchi

Preclinical Specialist

Public Health and Education

Phone: (630) 829-6215  |  Send Mrs. Cecchi an Email  |  Office: Kindlon Hall 249

I began my career at Benedictine University in December of 2001 with the College of Business with the MPH Program. After the 911 attack in New York Dr. Alan Gorr had the foresight to incorporate Disaster Management into the MPH Program.  Benedictine University was one of the first education institutions to have such a program.At that time I did not have a Bachelor’s degree but I became very interested in disaster management and sat in the first graduate disaster management class to see what it was all about.I began taking adult undergraduate classes so I could earn the certificate in Disaster Management.I earned the Citizen Emergency Response Term (CERT) certificate which heightened my interest in Disaster Management.I was presented “The Tradition of Hospitality Award” (March 2007) here at Benedictine.Also in 2007, my oldest son, Vince, and I walked together at commencement as the first mother/son to graduate from Benedictine University and was on my way to earn the Disaster Management certificate which I did in May 2009. I now have earned more than 20 FEMA certificates covering a vast majority of emergency preparedness related topics.My other son, Anthony, also graduated from Benedictine University.From the city of Naperville, I earned the Citizens’ Fire Academy certificate (2011), a hands-on program learning everything that firefighters do in an emergency.  I am a volunteer for the Emergency Operations Center for Naperville, IL. I am also the Planning Section Chief for the ERRT (Emergency Response and Recover Team) here at Benedictine University and have assisted and opened our emergency shelter during the flooding of April 2013.I can also open a shelter for animals. I earned an Exceptional Achievement Award from the HealthierU Program (May 2012) beating out several faculty and staff members of Benedictine University. I am now enrolled in the Police Academy here at Benedictine University.  Outside interests include shopping, HGTV, and, of course, helping our undergraduate and graduate students.

Ms. Egle Liutkus

Administrative Assistant

Nutrition and Public Health

Phone: 630-829-6596  |  Send Ms. Liutkus an Email  |  Office: Kindlon Hall 224

Egle joined the Nutrition Department as an Administrative Assistant in August 2012. She earned her B.S. in Management from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and is currently enrolled in the MSMOB (Management and Organizational Behavior) at Benedictine. Egle held administrative positions in the Chemistry and Physics Departments at UIC before working in the private sector for numerous years. She moved from employment to serving as a volunteer leader in organizations while a "stay at home mom" to her two children. Her son earned his Associate Degree from COD in the Fire Science Program in December 2014.  Her daughter will be attending St. Xavier University's School of Nursing program, where she earned a partial 4 year scholarship. Outside of work Egle enjoys digital scrapbooking and designing, photography, gardening, and cooking.

For Admissions Inquiries:

Alyssa Szynal
(630) 829-6399

For Graduate Admissions Information:

Graduate Admissions

For Graduate Tuition Information:

Current Graduate Tuition and Fees at Benedictine University

Department of Public Health
Benedictine University

Susan Cheng, Ph.D.
Department Chair

Joyce Cecchi
Administrative Assistant

Email: jcecchi@ben.edu
Phone: (630) 829-6215

Hours: 8:00 a.m. -  4:00 p.m.

By Mail:
Benedictine University
5700 College Road
Kindlon Hall, Room 258
Lisle, IL 60532

Fax: (630) 829-6281