President's Monthly Column

August, 2015


We’re launching the new academic year this month, with College classes resuming on August 19.

As a college president, I think a lot about campus culture, mission, vision and the transformative power of higher education. I’ll also admit that a college really only requires two things: students willing to learn and faculty excited to teach. The process is one of interacting and sharing. But oh what a difference the depth of knowledge, the level of enthusiasm, and the commitment to students’ success can make in the quality of higher education.

That’s one of those things I find fascinating about the College of Coastal Georgia: faculty come here because they really want to share what they’ve learned in their respective fields and disciplines.

Things such as the sunshine, beaches, and beautiful golf courses may add to the attraction, but most are surprised how little time they spend in the sun, on the water or out of the rough – unless it’s part of their coaching responsibilities or for class research and field trips.

Dr. Robert Bleil, Assistant Professor of English and American Studies, Director of the Honors Program, and a graduate of the doctoral and Master of Arts degree programs at The Pennsylvania State University, provided me with an interesting statistic last spring: more than 70 members of the faculty were nominated by students for Professor of the Year. Keep in mind that the College employed 81 full-time and 88 part-time faculty members during spring 2015 – making 70 different faculty members nominated in writing by students impressed by their classroom experience a rather impressive number!

More than half of our faculty holds the highest degree or certification available within their discipline. And they have come, not only from all over the nation, but from all corners of the globe, to teach here.

I’d like to introduce you to twelve new full-time faculty members joining us this fall.

Dr. Lauren Boardman, Assistant Professor of Nursing - Dr. Boardman has served as a nursing educator at Columbus State Community College and Fortis College, Westerville, both in Ohio. Her professional clinical experience as a critical care float nurse at the Wexner Medical Center of Ohio State University included new graduate and student nurse training. While with the Ohio State University Medical Center, she worked in the Medical Intensive Care Unit and the Ross Heart Hospital. She earned her D.N.P. at Duquesne University School of Nursing in Pittsburgh, her M.S.N. at Otterbein University College of Nursing in Ohio, and her B.S.N. from Ohio State University.

Dr. Robert Clark, Assistant Professor of English - Prior to joining the Coastal Georgia faculty, Dr. Clark was a lecturer in literature for two years at the University of West Alabama, Livingston. His book, American Literary Minimalism, was published by The University of Alabama Press in 2014 and his current book-in-progress is titled American Fiction and the Twenty-First Century Global Financial Crisis. He received his Ph.D. and M.A. in English from the University of Georgia, his M.A. in secondary English Education from Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina, and his B.A. in English from Wheaton College, Illinois.

Dr. Wanda DeLeo, Professor of Accounting - Dr. DeLeo comes to Coastal Georgia from Washington, D.C., where she has spent the past 12 years at the Federal Housing Finance Agency and its predecessor, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight. She served as Agency Director for six years and as Chief Accountant prior to that. She has taught college-level accounting at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina; Christian Brothers University in Memphis; University of Houston; Georgia State and Kennesaw State University. Early in her career, she also worked as a national bank examiner and as an academic budget consultant. Dr. DeLeo grew up in Georgia and received her Ph.D. in accounting from Georgia State University, her M.S. in accounting from the University of Central Florida, and her B.A. in accounting from the University of Georgia.

Dr. Jessica Melilli-Hand, Assistant Professor of English - A Georgia native who spent much of her childhood visiting Jekyll Island, Dr. Melilli-Hand received her Ph.D. in English with a creative writing concentration focused primarily on poetry from Georgia State University this spring. She has served as a graduate instructor in composition, creative writing (poetry) and writing skills for seven years. She received her M.F.A. in creative writing (poetry) from Georgia State and dual B.A. degrees with honors in creative writing and psychology from Carnegie Mellon University. One of her poems, “Covenant”, has been set to music by composer Jeffrey Nytech and her work has appeared in Hunger Mountain (March 2015), PMS, Painted Bride Quarterly, Barrow Street, Reunion: The Dallas Review, The Oakland Review, The Cortland Review and others. She was the winner of the Agnes Scott Poetry Competition in 2008, 2011 and 2014 as well as hosting and competing in Atlanta slam poetry events.

James Holt, Lecturer of Mathematics - Holt is returning the College of Coastal Georgia, having served as an adjunct and full-time math instructor at the College, Camden Center, and at Ft. Stewart on an as-needed basis since 1992, including learning-support and lower division mathematics classes. He has also taught at Brunswick High School, McIntosh County Academy, Liberty County Alternative School in Hinesville, and Camden County High School. His work as a speech and debate coach led to his Georgia Speech and Debate Coaches Hall of Fame induction earlier this year. Holt earned his M.E.D. in school administration and his B.S.E.D. in secondary math from Georgia Southern University and his M.E.D. in secondary math from Armstrong State College.

Nevada LeCounte, Assistant Professor of Nursing - LeCounte, who served as a nursing instructor for the 2014-2015 academic year in the B.S.N. program and as a clinical instructional assistant in the A.S.N. program the year prior at the College, has joined the faculty as a full-time assistant professor. She has also worked as Staff R.N.II at Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah since 2011 with prior experience as Staff R.N. at Liberty Regional Medical Center in Hinesville. LeCounte received a M.S. in rural family nursing with a concentration in nursing education from the University of Central Missouri-Warrensburg and her B.S.N. from Georgia College and State University.

Lee McKinley, Associate Professor of Health Economics - McKinley has over 15 years of undergraduate teaching experience, classroom and online, as well as experience in designing curriculum programs and courses. Prior to joining the faculty of Coastal Georgia, she was Associate Professor of Business at Georgia Perimeter College, Covington campus, and served as interim director of Health Informatics. She received her post-baccalaureate certificate in health information administration from Georgia Regents University, her M.B.A. with a concentration in management science and information systems from the University of Georgia, and her B.B.A. from Delta State University, Cleveland, Mississippi.

Dr. Holly Nance, Assistant Professor of Biology - Prior to joining the faculty, Dr. Nance worked as an adjunct biology professor at Indian River State College, Ft. Pierce, Florida and as biology lecturer at Eastern Florida State College, Cocoa. She has taught genetics courses at the South Carolina DNA Learning Center at Clemson University and presented seminars to primary and secondary schools on marine conservation genetics. Dr. Nance was a postdoctoral researcher at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, designing and implementing a research project focused on Eastern oyster population genetics in the Gulf of Mexico. She is also an instructor working with students to develop summer independent research projects at Cornell University’s Shoals Marine Lab in Maine. Her graduate teaching experience includes University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and University of Texas at Austin. She earned her Ph.D. in biological sciences from Clemson and her M.S. in geological sciences and B.S. in biology from the University of Texas at Austin, Her Ph.D. research focused on the population genetics and demographic history of scalloped hammerhead sharks in the Eastern Pacific with her results being recently cited during the listing of the scalloped hammerhead shark as federally endangered.

Dr. J. Brian Pope, Professor of Psychology and Social Sciences Department Chair - Dr. Pope has served as the chair of the Psychology Department at Tusculum College in Greenville, Tennessee for the past 10 years and has 15 years of teaching experience which includes Andrew College in Cuthbert, Georgia. He earned his Ph.D. in biopsychology from the University of Georgia, his M.A. in general-experimental psychology from the College of William and Mary, and his B.A. in psychology from DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana.

Dr. Traesha Robertson, Assistant Professor of Biology - Prior to joining the faculty, Dr. Robertson served as adjunct faculty and herbarium technician at McLennan Community College, Waco, Texas (2011-2015). She was a postdoctoral teaching associate at Texas Tech University in Lubbock (2007-2013) as well as a teaching and research assistant (2000-2006) while completing her doctoral studies. She received her Ph.D. in biology from Texas Tech, her M.S. in biology from Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, and her B.S. from Angelo State University in Texas. She has 17 years of experience in plant taxonomy and morphology; 12 years of experience in studying climate patterns; and 11 years of college teaching experience. She is a member of the Ecological and Botanical Societies of America.

MaryAnne Sandburg, Assistant Professor of Nursing - Sandburg has more than 30 years of nursing experience: as a hospital staff nurse in New Jersey, Alaska, and Georgia; case manager for a visiting nurses association; and as a pediatric and school nurse. She is currently pursuing her Ed.D. in nursing education at the University of West Georgia after earning her M.S.N. from Western Governors University, B.S.N. with honors from University of Phoenix, and A.S.N. magna cum laude from Burlington County College in Pemberton, New Jersey. Her teaching experience includes serving as a senior lecturer in the B.S.N. program at the University of North Georgia and as a nursing lecturer and instructor at Georgia Highlands College.

Dr. Renren Zhao, Associate Professor of Mathematics - Dr. Zhao earned his Ph.D. and M.S. in mathematics with an emphasis in statistics from the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, and his bachelor of economics, international economics and trade from Chongqing University in China. As a graduate teaching assistant at Missouri, he won multiple awards for excellence in teaching, including nominations in 2011 and 2014 for WE LOVE YOUR CLASS by the Freshman Engineering Program.

Please join me in extending a warm Golden Isles welcome to them.

The President's column appears monthly in The Islander newspaper.


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