faculty pic

Speak the truth with both heart and tongue.
-St. Benedict


Division of Arts & Letters

Debra Parker, M.A.
Division Chair | Writing Director
Assistant Professor
dparker@ben.edu | BR-205
Debra Parker is Chair of the Division of Arts & Letters at Benedictine University at Springfield where she also teaches life-writing, rhetoric and literature courses. She holds Master's Degrees in Linguistics and in Intercultural Communications and is currently working toward a Ph.D. in English Studies at Illinois State University. Parker also serves as a board member of the Association of Interdisciplinary Studies and editor of the Peer-Reviewed Syllabi web site. Her scholarship interests include interdisciplinary studies, rhetorical theory, authorship studies, life writing and autobiography.

Deb Antoine, M.A.
Lead Faculty Communication Arts
Assistant Professor
dantoine@ben.edu | L—10A
Deb Antoine joined the faculty at Benedictine University at Springfield in 2011 as an adjunct instructor in Communication Arts.  In 2013 she was brought on full time as Lead Faculty in Communication Arts.  She brings teaching experience from University of Illinois Springfield and Capital Area Career Center. Mrs. Antoine teaches Introduction to Communication, Senior Portfolio, Digital Video Production and Multimedia Production on a regular basis. In a former life she was a video producer for over 25 years.  Mrs. Antoine serves as the co-advisor of the student chapter of the Association of Women in Communication and the online student newspaper, Associate Editor on the Quiddity International Literary Magazine and as a member of the Virtual and Blended Learning Task Force. She has a Master Certificate in Online Learning from the Illinois Online Network.  

Billie Jarvis-Freeman, Ph. D.

Coordinator of First-Year Writing
Assistant Professor
bjarvis-freeman@ben.edu | B-209
Billie Jarvis-Freeman received her PhD in English Studies from Illinois State University in December of 2011, with a concentration in Teacher Education and Adolescent Literature. Her primary areas of research and scholarship are within these concentrations, as well as student engagement practices, folk tales, and the works of C.S. Lewis, Dorothy L. Sayers, and George MacDonald. Dr. Jarvis-Freeman will be serving as Coordinator of First-Year Writing for the Springfield campus for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Amy Lakin, M.A.
Associate Professor
alakin@ben.edu | B-205
Amy Lakin is a proud alumna of Springfield College in Illinois and began teaching part-time on campus in 1997.  In January of 2004, she was thrilled to accept a full-time position teaching writing and literature courses.  She served as Chair of the Division of Arts and Letters for six years and was also a contributing writer for Springfield Scene Magazine. She regularly teaches freshman composition courses and the Critical Reading course, as well as various literature classes like Gender and Literature, Studies in Drama, Postcolonial Literature and Theory, Nineteenth Century Literature and Modern Literature.  She's recently stepped outside the world of writing and literature and created a philosophy course simply titled "What is Truth?"    

David Logan, M.A.
Lead Faculty Writing & Publishing
Associate Professor
dlogan@ben.edu | D-225-A
David Logan is an Associate Professor of Literature, Creative Writing, Film Studies, and Speech, and he serves as Lead Writing & Publishing Faculty of the Division of Arts & Letters at Benedictine University at Springfield. Courses taught include Drama as Literature, Shakespeare, Literature and Film, Studies in Short Fiction, Creative Writing: Fiction, African American Literature, U.S. Multiethnic Literature, and more. He is the Prose Editor for Quiddity International Literary Journal, as well as a radio correspondent for Quiddity's companion public radio program. David's work has appeared in a number of publications, including a book of essays published by Simon & Schuster. Among his produced plays is Paint It Red, co-written with Judi O'Brien Anderson. This multimedia production of dramatic monologues in verse gives a narrative voice to the victims and perpetrators of the 1908 Springfield Race Riots. Other current scholarship interests include the following: Vachel Lindsay's role as America's first film theorist/critic (circa 1915); Shakespeare's linguistic/stage work in modern adaptation; the relationship between history and the arts; and theories in short fiction, including the short short story.

Lynette Shaw-Smith, M.A.
Associate Professor
lshaw-smith@ben.edu | L-17
Lynette Shaw-Smith has worked as a writer and an editor in education at the University of Missouri Press and in business at IBM and at an environmental engineering firm. In 1997, Mrs. Lynette started at what was then Springfield College.  She was hired to improve the lower level reading, grammar, and writing classes. When the English as a Second Language (ESL) program started here, she ran the program, hiring faculty, scheduling classes, and advising students. Also, she loves teaching Harry Potter, British Literature.  She has taught Drama, Greek, and Irish Literature and led student tours to Italy, France, England, Greece, and Ireland.  Due to her ESL experience and passion for international travel, Shaw-Smith serves as the advisor to the International Club.    

Marianne Stremsterfer, M.A.
Lead Faculty Art
Associate Professor
mstremsterfer@ben.edu | D-21
Marianne Stremsterfer's story begins as an alumni of Springfield College in Illinois, with an A.A. in Art, as well as an MAEd from Benedictine University. Her family has a long history associated with 1500 North 5th Street, with her mother, her aunt, her sister and four brothers, her husband and all three children as alumni too.  "Strem" has been teaching art since 1975, as an adjunct at Springfield College since 1990 and Lead Art Faculty at Benedictine since 2006. "Mrs. Stremsterfer, a strong advocate for lifelong learning, has led three educational trips to Europe and is planning on another to Eastern Europe in spring, 2015. Over 75 students, alumni and friends of the university have joined her in travel. In addition to her duties as Lead Art Faculty, she is the Faculty Development chairperson, the Director of the Center for Mission and Identity on the Springfield campus and leads the newly appointed task force. Mrs. Strem also is the co-advisor for the Fine Arts Club and is the curator for the Becker Library Art Gallery."        

Adjunct Instructors in the Arts & Letters – on campus  

James Warner, M.A. - Writting
Adjunct Faculty
Managing Editor, Quiddity International Literary Magazine and Public Radio Program
jwarner@ben.edu | BR-207
Twitter: @QuiddityLit or @whoismisterjim (personal)
Blog: Quidditylit.tumblr.com | Website:
Jim Warner is the Managing Editor of Quiddity International Literary Journal and Public Radio Program.  His poetry has appeared/is forthcoming in various journals including The North American Review, [PANK] Magazine, The Minnesota Review, and is the author of two poetry collections (Paper Kite Press). He writes the weekly column "Best Worst Year" for Sun Dog Lit.  Jim received his MFA from Wilkes University and served as the Assistant Director of Graduate Creative Writing Programs.

Adjunct Instructors in the Arts & Letters – from the community

Tamara “Tammie” Browning, M.A., B.A. | Communication Arts
Tamara “Tammie” Browning shared her passion for news writing and reporting with the Benedictine community when she became an adjunct faculty member in Fall 2013, teaching Newswriting-Reporting. She continued instructing students about the benefits of getting out in the community to garner stories as an instructor for Advanced Journalism Writing in Spring 2014. Tammie has been a staff writer for The State Journal-Register, the daily newspaper in Springfield, Illinois, for nearly 28 years and has freelance experience with various magazines and newspapers. When she’s not writing, Tammie trains for 5Ks and women’s biathlons. She also does mountain climbing with her husband and two grown sons.

Charles "Bob" Dixon, M.F.A. – Fine Art
After 3 ½ years in the United States Air Force, Bob returned to school and received his M.S. in 1974 and M.F.A. in 1975 from  Illinois State  University.  He began teaching at Sangamon State University in 1976 and retired Emeritus in 2005.  Bob's work has been published in books and periodicals, here and abroad, and his work shown throughout the U.S.  He has exhibited his work and lectured throughout China.  Invited to four International wood-burning conferences in China, Bob continues to work on wood-fired related ceramics and Shino glaze research.  He continues to do workshops and exhibit his work, as well as enjoy his position as adjunct faculty at Benedictine University at Springfield.  His work uses traditional construction and finishing methods to create a strong formal power in his work.

Jessica Hagemann, M.F.A. – Writing
Jess Hagemann joined the Benedictine community in 2013 as an adjunct faculty member in the Writing Program. She teaches developmental writing, critical reading, and WRIT 101/102. Jessica's primary research interests include social justice, contemporary cinema, the anti-novel, and the postcolonial art and literature of Aboriginal Australia and West India.

Jim Ruppert, B.A. - Communication Arts
Jim Ruppert earned his bachelors in journalism from Bradley University in 1975 and was away from the world of academics for nearly 40 years before dipping his toes in the water while teaching Sports Journalism for the spring 2014 semester. Ruppert began his career as a sportswriter in 1976 at The State Journal-Register and became sports editor in 1991. His professional experience runs the gamut, from high school cross country meets to Game 7 of the 1987 World Series. Ruppert also has worked part-time in radio for 20-plus years, serving as a talk show host and color analyst for basketball, football and baseball broadcasts on WFMB. 

Donn Stephens, M.A. - Music
After attending Springfield College in the late 1960s, Donn transferred to Illinois State University to earn a B.S. in Music Education.  Following his earning a Master of Divinity degree in 1980, he served as an ordained minister for 11 years.  Donn began teaching in the adult evening program at Springfield College in the spring of 2005, then teaching traditional daytime students after retiring from teaching in public school education in 2011. He has for many years been a writer, arranger, and performer of music, in addition to being vocal and music director with community theater. Several of his musical arrangements and original writings have been performed by school and community bands and choirs, as well as in community theater productions. His personally owned business, Tunes and Charts Music, is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. Donn has also appeared in a segment of an ABC Television series and is participating in the soon to be concluded filming of a major motion picture.

Pamela Woodson, Ph.D. – Communication Arts

Dr. Pamela Woodson has owned Pamela Speaks Training & Consulting for over 12 years. Her company's repertoire extends to vast areas of Business, Communication, Education, Mediation, Life-coaching and the Bible. With over 15 years of success as a teacher, trainer, writer, speaker, producer, storyteller and performer; she has earned degrees in the following areas:  Business Administration, Communication, Management, Organizational Behavior, Paralegal Studies, Public Relations and Doctorate degrees in Ministry and Theology. In addition, she is a licensed and certified NFHS/IHSA & NCAA Basketball official and produces and hosts a weekly television talk show.

Sam Davis, M.A. – Communication Arts
Ted Morrisey, M.A. – Research Writing | Creative Writing
Lori Pahde, M.A. - Writing
Sara Sonnenberg, M.A. – Writing
Carol Sponagle, M.A. – Writing | Speech
Emily Thompson, M.F.A. – Fine Arts