Benedictine hires new faculty for Mesa branch campus

June 6, 2013

Lisle, Illinois ~ Benedictine University at Mesa announced today it has hired several new faculty members to lead its academic programs as it prepares for the University’s history-making, first-ever classes this fall.

Faculty will support initial degree offerings for a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Bachelor of Arts in Theology, Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Bachelor of Business Administration in Management and Organizational Behavior, in addition to a minor in Religious Studies.

Hired faculty include Assistant Professor of Fine Arts Michael Tole, Nutrition Instructor Traci Beierwaltes, Assistant Professor of Psychology Shannon Rauch, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Nutrition McKale Davis, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Julie Cowgill, Ph.D., and Assistant Professor of Theology Ramon Luzarraga, Ph.D.

Tole currently teaches drawing, computers in art and painting at the University of North Texas where he earned his Master of Fine Arts. He has earned numerous art awards and has exhibited in art galleries in multiple states. Beierwaltes, a registered dietitian, earned her Master of Science in Nutrition and Wellness from Benedictine where she teaches as an adjunct in the Department of Nutrition on the main campus in Lisle, Illinois.
Davis, a registered dietitian and research and teaching assistant at Oklahoma State University, is widely published in the nutritional sciences. Cowgill, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Justice Studies at Oklahoma City University, is widely published in the social sciences and is on the editorial boards for the Administrative Issues Review Journal and the International Journal on the Sociology of Culture, and is a board member of the Oklahoma County Community Sentencing Commission.

Rauch, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Providence College, has published one book and written many manuscripts on human behavior and psychology, and has received several teaching excellence awards. Luzarraga is a lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Dayton where he teaches traditional, online and blended learning classes.

The classes offered at Benedictine University at Mesa will be lecture-free – which is different than what most students have previously experienced. Faculty will champion a curriculum that is problem/issues-based and will focus on application, decision-making and problem-solving. Professors will be using innovative techniques in the classroom to challenge students to actively learn, utilize technology and apply acquired knowledge.
All classes will follow a learning lab approach. Like a science laboratory class, students will engage, experiment, discover, apply and evaluate. Every class will have a problem, issue or project to solve and the semester will be spent learning not only solutions, but will also explore what the most effective processes are to discover solutions.

Between flipped and lecture-free classes loaded with technological enhancements, today’s students have new options for identifying learning styles they can build upon to successfully earn their degrees and have better skills to compete in the global marketplace immediately upon graduation. This is something Benedictine believes is essential for teaching the next generation of college students.

Benedictine University at Mesa classes begin September 3 at Gillett Hall, located at 225 E. Main St. in downtown Mesa.
There is still time to apply for fall. For more information, please visit or call (602) 888-5500.


Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has a branch campus in Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls more than 5,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the eighth consecutive year in 2018. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission ( For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, or visit

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