Twelve new faculty members include three Nursing department additions

September 26, 2012

Lisle, Illinois~ A few years ago, the future of the Nursing program at Benedictine University was in doubt.

Today, Benedictine's Nursing department is healthy, thriving and – evidenced by the addition of three new faculty members – growing.

Alison Ridge, Margaret Richey and Sharon Ware are among 12 new instructors and professors at Benedictine University who were introduced by Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Donald Taylor, Ph.D. at the University's annual opening day meeting for staff and faculty.

"We are excited to have these outstanding new faculty members join our academic community," Taylor said. "We look forward to their outstanding contributions as we continue to grow Benedictine University."

Ridge, a resident of LaGrange Park, is an assistant professor and Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) program director in the Department of Nursing and Health. She earned a doctorate in Nursing Practice at Rush University College of Nursing. Prior to her appointment at Benedictine, she was a course developer and instructor in Faculty Practice and Community Outreach and an assistant professor in the Department of Community, Systems and Mental Health Nursing at Rush.

Richey, a resident of Dallas Center, Iowa, is an associate professor in the Department of Nursing and Health. She earned a Doctor of Education at the College of Saint Mary in Omaha, Neb. Richey has been an adjunct faculty member in the M.S.N. program at Benedictine and was an associate professor of Nursing at Mercy College of Health Sciences in Des Moines, Iowa.

Ware, a Raleigh, N.C. resident, is an associate professor in the Department of Nursing and Health. She earned a doctorate in Education at Oklahoma State University. Ware has been an associate professor in the Department of Nursing at North Carolina Central University in Durham, N.C., and has been an adjunct faculty member in the M.S.N. program at Benedictine since 2009.

An assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition, Naperville resident Karen Plawecki earned a Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Illinois-Champaign. She comes to Benedictine from the University of Illinois where she was the director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.

The College of Liberal Arts welcomed three new faculty members including Patrick Polasek, an assistant professor of Criminal Justice from Tinley Park. Polasek earned a Master of Arts in Sociology and a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from Loyola University of Chicago. He has been an instructor at the University of Oklahoma and Loyola University. Polasek joined the Department of Psychology and Sociology where he will teach in the Criminal Justice program.

A native of Tunisia, Ahlem Ben Fattoum is a Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant in Arabic. Ben Fattoum earned degrees in English from the Higher Institute of Human Sciences and the School of Human and Social Sciences in Tunis. She joined the Department of English Language and Literature at Benedictine.

Wilbert O. Watkins is an Instructor of Choral Music Education from Berwyn. Watkins earned a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from Southwestern Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in Music Education with Choral Music emphasis from Florida State University. Watkins, who previously taught at Northern Illinois and DePaul, is currently the music director at Pilgrim Congregational Church in Oak Park and the Sing to Live Community Chorus in Chicago. He will teach in the Music Education program and conduct the concert choir.

The College of Science welcomed five new faculty members including Pedro Del Corral, an assistant professor of Biological Sciences and director of the Master of Science in Clinical Exercise Physiology program. Del Corral earned a Exercise Physiology at the University of Tennessee and an M.D. at the Saint Eustatius School of Medicine in the Netherlands Antilles. Prior to joining Benedictine, the Bolingbrook resident was a visiting professor at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Lisle resident Robert McCarthy is an assistant professor of Biological Sciences who earned a Ph.D. in Hominid Paleobiology at George Washington University. He has held postdoctoral appointments at Washington University in St. Louis and Harvard University. Prior to joining Benedictine, McCarthy held academic appointments at the University of Albany and Florida Atlantic University.

An assistant professor of Biological Sciences, Aurora resident Jayashree Sarathy earned a Ph.D. in Physiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She held a postdoctoral appointment at the College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, and has been an adjunct faculty member at Benedictine since 1999. Sarathy has also taught as an adjunct faculty member at Waubonsee Community College and Aurora University.

Formerly a visiting assistant professor at Willamette University in Salem, Ore., Downers Grove resident Scott Meyer joins the University faculty as an assistant professor of Chemistry. Meyer earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Arizona where he also did postdoctoral research. His interests include the development of biosensors for the detection of disease-related targets.

North Aurora resident Lawrence (Larry) Pollack is an instructor in Computer Science. Pollack earned a Master of Science in Computer Science at DePaul University and is an expert in Web-application design and programming. He previously worked as an IT consultant and software engineer and taught at Aurora University.


Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls more than 5,000 students in 59 undergraduate and 23 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the seventh consecutive year in 2017. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission ( For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, or visit

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