Luther announces grants of tenure and promotions


Luther College President Richard Torgerson and Dean of the College Kevin Kraus have announced promotions and grants of tenure for current faculty members.

At its February meeting, the Luther Board of Regents approved tenure for Eric Baack, assistant professor of biology; Sean Burke, assistant professor of religion; Allen Hightower, professor of music and director of choral activities; and Richard Mtisi, assistant professor of Africana studies and history. Professors Baack, Burke and Mtisi were promoted to associate professor.

President Torgerson announced promotion to full professor for Scott Carlson, biology; Jodi Enos-Berlage, biology; Kristy Gould, psychology; Jane Hawley, dance; Laurie Iudin-Nelson, Russian studies; Gereon Kopf, religion; Richard Merritt, art; Kate Narveson, English; David Njus, psychology; and Nicholas Preus, English. Elizabeth Steding, German, was promoted to associate professor.

Eric Baack

Eric Baack, biology, has taught at Luther since 2007. Baack holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Carleton College, a master's degree in education from Lewis and Clark College and a doctoral degree in population biology from the University of California, Davis.

He was recently a recipient of a $2,000 grant from the McElroy Foundation for his work with a multi-drug resistant bacteria and efflux pumps.  The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture also recognized his work with a multigenerational assessment of the fate and impact of crop gene introgression into wild sunflowers with a grant of $492,000.

In 2011, Baack gave a Paideia Texts and Issues lecture with Beth Lynch, titled, "Ecological Restoration: Maintaining Spaces for the Wild."

Sean Burke

Sean Burke, religion, has been on the faculty at Luther since 2007. He holds a bachelor of Judeo-Christian Heritage from Concordia College, a master's from Lutheran Theological Seminary and a doctoral degree in biblical studies from Graduate Theological Union.

Burke's research interests include Eunuchs, sex in the bible, queer theory and the interpretation of scripture. He is ordained in the Episcopal Diocese of California and serves as a priest-in-residence at St. James Episcopal Church in Independence, Iowa.

Allen Hightower

Allen Hightower, music, holds a bachelor's degree in music education from Sam Houston University, a Master of Music in choral conducting from the Eastman School of Music, a Master of Music in orchestral conducting from Baylor University and a doctoral degree in conducting from University of California-Los Angeles.

In addition to conducting, Hightower has taught classes in conducting, choral methods, choral literature and score reading. He has taught and directed at Luther since 2010, and is the conductor of Nordic Choir and director of choral activities.

Richard Mtisi

Richard Mtisi, Africana studies and history, has been a member of the Luther faculty since 2005. Mtisi holds a bachelor's degree in economic history and a master's in African economic history from the University of Zimbabwe. Mtisi is a doctoral candidate in the department of history at the University of Iowa.

He is fluent in Portuguese, Shona, Shangaan and Ndebele, which are spoken in Southern African countries. Mtisi's dissertation focuses on wildlife conservation and rural communities in southern Mozambique and southeastern Zimbabwe from the 1950s to 2004.

Scott Carlson

Scott Carlson, biology, has taught at Luther since 2000. Carlson holds the Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in physiology from the University of California-Davis and the doctoral degree in cellular and integrative physiology from the University of Minnesota.

The author of numerous published abstracts and articles, he is frequently invited to speak at seminars and conferences. Support for his research includes awards from the American Heart Association, the National Institute of Aging and the National Science Foundation.                        

Jodi Enos-Berlage

Jodi Enos-Berlage, biology, has been on the faculty at Luther since 2000. Enos-Berlage holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign and a doctoral degree in bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

She completed postdoctoral research as an associate at the University of Iowa and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Enos-Berlage is a published author and the winner of many distinguished awards. In 2012, Enos-Berlage was part of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute planning team that was awarded a $1.5 million grant for science education.

Kristy Gould

Kristy Gould, psychology, holds a bachelor's degree in biology from Dakota Wesleyan University and a doctoral degree in biology with an emphasis in animal behavior from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Gould has been a member of the Luther faculty since 2001.

She completed post-doctoral training in behavioral neuroscience and psychology at Cornell University under a National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Mental Health.

Jane Hawley

Jane Hawley, theatre/dance, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in theatre/dance from Luther and a Master of Fine Arts degree in performance and choreography from the University of Illinois. Hawley has been a member of the Luther faculty since 2000.

She is co-founder of Black Earth Collaborative Arts Company, a nonprofit organization that produces community performance works by professional artists of diverse art forms. Hawley was also featured in the "Lifetime Learning" section of the May 2009 edition of Dance Magazine.

Laurie Iudin-Nelson

Laurie Iudin-Nelson, modern languages, has been on the Luther faculty since 1992. Iudin-Nelson holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Russian studies from St. Olaf College, a Master of Arts degree in Russian studies from the University of Minnesota and a doctoral degree in Slavic languages and literatures from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

She is the founder and director of the Luther College Balalaika Ensemble. Iudin-Nelson was employed for 21 years at the Russian Village of Concordia Language Villages where she served as dean and directed programs of ethnic music for pre-college youth. 

Gereon Kopf

Gereon Kopf, religion, holds a doctoral degree in religious studies with an emphasis on Japanese Zen Buddhist philosophy from Temple University. A member of the Luther faculty since 1997, he served a postdoctoral fellowship from 2002-04 at the Nanzan Institute for Religion in Nagoya, Japan. He is co-chair of the AAR Zen Seminar and annual meeting program chair for panels of the Society Asian and Comparative Philosophy, co-president of the International Society of Buddhist Philosophy, and book review editor in the area of Japanese Buddhism for h-net.

His research work support includes awards from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science, the Japan Foundation, the North East Asian Council, the Iowa College Foundation, and the East Asian Studies Center at Temple University.

Richard Merritt

Richard Merritt, art, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Carleton College and a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting, video and intermedia/multi-media from the University of Iowa.

A member of the Luther faculty since 1998, he previously taught at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Author of many published articles, his current research interests include robotics, electronics and computer programming; art, mathematics memory, time and space from the Italian Renaissance to the present; glass.01 virtual reality engine; and African and Afro Atlantic martial arts performance.

Kate Narveson

Kate Narveson, English, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Washington University, a master's degree in Philosophy in Renaissance studies from the Wartburg Institute of the University of London, and a Master of Arts and doctoral degree in English from the University of Chicago. A member of the Luther faculty since 2000, she previously taught at Mt. St. Mary's College in Maryland.

The author of numerous published articles, she frequently presents research at conferences on Renaissance studies and recently published a book on the ordinary persons reading and writing culture that developed among non-clergy as a result of the Reformation campaign to create lay Scriptural literacy.

David Njus

David Njus, psychology, holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and English from Luther and a master's and doctoral degree in applied social psychology from Loyola University of Chicago. A member of the Luther faculty since 1995, Njus previously served as the program advisor in the department of psychology at Loyola University of Chicago.

His collaborative research with students has been conducted in a variety of research areas, including adolescent identity development and cognition; political orientation and cognition; and religious orientation and evolutionary psychology.

Nicholas Preus

Nicholas Preus, English, holds a bachelor's degree in English and Scandinavian studies from Luther, a master's in English Literature and a doctoral degree in nineteenth-century British literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

A member of the Luther faculty since 2000, Preus previously taught at Waldorf College. Preus is a published writer and the recipient of many awards.

Elizabeth Steding

Elizabeth Steding, German, holds a bachelor's degree in German from Alma College, a master's in German language and culture from the University of California-Santa Barbara, and a doctoral degree in German studies from Michigan State University.

Steding has been a member of the Luther College faculty since 2005, teaching both German and Paideia, and has extensive teaching experience at the high school and college level in Germany and the United States. Her research interests are East German literature, post-unification literature and contemporary German culture.