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Lydia Slattery
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Phone: 563-387-1417

Luther College announces grants of tenure and promotions

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

At its Feb. 8-10 meeting in Decorah, the Luther Board of Regents approved tenure for Rachel Brummel, environmental studies/political science; Stephanie Fretham, biology; Joseph Madrigal, art; Anna Peterson, history; Dawn Reding, biology; Jennaya Robison, music; Lindsey Row-Heyveld, English; Justin Sprung, psychology; Robert Vtris, theatre; Alexandra White, management; and Jill Wilson, education. All were promoted to associate professor.

Rachel Brummel

Rachel Brummel, environmental studies and political science, has taught at Luther since 2014. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Grinnell College. Brummel earned her doctoral degree in conservation biology, with a focus on environmental policy, from the University of Minnesota.

She teaches courses in environmental politics and policy, environmental justice and law, environment and community, rivers and society, global environmental politics and sustainability.

Brummel’s research explores how government policies respond to new and emerging environmental issues, particularly those that transcend political boundaries. She also collaborates with students to examine local and regional environmental issues, such as pollinator policy, flooding impacts on communities and community-based environmental decision making.

Stephanie Fretham

Stephanie Fretham has served in Luther’s biology department since 2013. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and psychology from Luther and a doctoral degree in neuroscience from the University of Minnesota. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

Fretham’s research interests focus on understanding common features of neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disease, specifically the body’s regulation of iron and insulin signaling pathway activity. She uses C. elegans, a small and very versatile nematode model system, to investigate the effect of metals on the nervous system and the interaction between genetic and environmental factors in the development of neurodegenerative disease. She teaches courses in human anatomy, experimental neuroscience and toxicology.

Joseph Madrigal

Joseph Madrigal began teaching in the art department in 2013. He holds a bachelor’s degree with concentrations in painting and ceramics from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a master’s degree in ceramics from Illinois State University.

His art practice and research are focused on material explorations broadly centered on clay and specifically around porcelain. His work is influenced by the complexity of memory and bodily experience through habitual, sensual and erotic connectivity. In his work, body, food and fabric often emerge as form, index, texture and image.

He teaches courses in sculpture, world pottery, ceramics and installation.

Anna Peterson

Anna Peterson has been a professor in the history department since 2013. She recently published a book, “Maternity Policy and the Making of the Norwegian Welfare State, 1880-1940” about the formation of maternity leave in Norway at the turn of the twentieth century. She was awarded the Nena Amundson professorship for 2018-2020 to conduct new research on the Norwegian-American-run Bethany Indian Mission School. Peterson currently teaches courses in modern European history, including Scandinavian immigration, Vikings in history, Russian history and Holocaust history.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in Scandinavian studies from Concordia College, a master’s degree in history from the University of North Dakota and a doctoral degree in history from Ohio State University.

Dawn Reding

Dawn Reding has served in the biology department since 2013, regularly teaching courses in principles of biology, genomics and vertebrate biology. Her research interests include using genetic tools to study the evolution, ecology and conservation of wildlife.

She primarily works with mammals, such as fox, deer, bobcats and bats, to address questions about population declines or expansions, subspecies designation, landscape barriers to animal movement and mating systems.

Reding holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from the University of Dubuque; a master’s degree in zoology with specialization in ecology, evolution and conservation biology from the University of Hawaii in Manoa, Honolulu; and a doctoral degree in ecology and evolutionary biology from Iowa State University.

Jennaya Robison

Jennaya Robison has taught in the Luther music department since 2013. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Luther with a concentration on voice performance and K-12 vocal music education, a Master of Music degree in conducting and voice performance from the University of New Mexico, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in choral conducting from the University of Arizona.

Her research interests focus on vocal health within a choral ensemble and gender equity/representation in the choral ensemble. Robison has presented lectures and interest sessions at national, regional and state conferences. She has been an invited conductor and clinician at festivals as well as various international, regional and state honor choirs. She will make her Carnegie Hall conducting debut in 2021. Her choral series is published with Pavane Music.

She regularly teaches courses in conducting and vocal pedagogy and serves as the conductor for Aurora, Collegiate Chorale and the Luther College Gospel Choir.

Lindsey Row-Heyveld

Lindsey Row-Heyveld joined the Luther English department in 2013. She teaches courses on Shakespeare, early modern English literature, medieval literature and film as well as teaching Paideia, Luther College’s first-year seminar.

Row-Heyveld is the author of “Dissembling Disability in Early Modern English Drama,” which examines why able-bodied characters fake disability in over 40 early modern English plays. Her book uncovers a previously unexamined theatrical tradition and explores the way counterfeit disability captivated the Renaissance stage. She has also published articles on disability in early modern English literature and culture in general, as well as research on disability-focused pedagogy.

Row-Heyveld holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Greenville College and master’s and doctoral degrees in English from the University of Iowa.

Justin Sprung

Since joining the Luther psychology department in 2013, Justin Sprung has taught courses in personality and individual differences, psychology of the workplace, applied psychology and research methods in psychology.

Sprung researches various workplace issues, from worker stress and well-being to personality and job attitudes. Within this research he is particularly interested in how employees balance their work lives with their family demands and leisure activities.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Northern Iowa and master’s and doctoral degrees in industrial-organizational psychology from Bowling Green State University.

Robert Vtris

Robert Vtris has taught in the theatre department at Luther since 2013. He teaches courses in acting, contemporary plays and directing.

His research interests include contemporary acting theory and pedagogy, Shakespeare in performance and adaptation, cognitive studies and theories of affect in relation to theatre arts, and post-colonial theory and dramatic literature.

Vtris holds a bachelor’s degree in theatre from Longwood University and master’s and doctoral degrees in theatre from the University of Oregon.

Alexandra White

Alexandra White joined the Luther economics, accounting and management faculty in 2013 after nearly 20 years of working for a wide range of organizations including Fortune 500 companies, start-ups and management consulting groups. She teaches courses on the principles of management, data analysis for business decision making, introduction to business and project management.

White’s research focuses on active learning pedagogy.

White holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in adult education, foundation and policy from Portland State University.

Jill Wilson

Since joining the Luther education department as a faculty member in 2014, Jill Wilson has taught courses in music education curriculum and strategies, elementary methods, middle school general music methods and clinical experiences in music education. She also serves as the conductor of Cantorei.

Wilson is currently president of the Iowa Choral Directors Association and co-chaired the Iowa Fine Arts Standards Adoption Committee. Current research interests include music teacher education program curricula, mentor programs, dispositions and music literacy pedagogy. Peer-reviewed journal publications appear in “Research Issues in Music Education,” “Gender Research in Music Education,” “Visions of Research in Music Education,” “Choral Journal” and “The Journal of Music Teacher Education.” Wilson authored a chapter in “Contemporary Research in Music Learning across the Lifespan,” published by Routledge. She is also a proud Modern Band Fellow thanks to Little Kids Rock.

Wilson holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College, a master’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa and a doctoral degree from Boston University, all in music education.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,005, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in 60 majors and preprofessional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college’s website:

Contact Information

Lydia Slattery
Media Relations Specialist

Phone: 563-387-1417