Summer 2014

Dr. Steven Stein (far left), assistant professor of liberal arts at the UIU Madison Center, completed his third summer of research, teaching and consulting in Nicaragua resulting in an online course in developmental psychology made possible by a grant through Upper Iowa University. There are now 100 teachers and social workers participating in the course.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADr. M. Graeme Armstrong, associate professor of education and chair of Upper Iowa’s masters of higher education administration program, crossed another item off his bucket list when he and his lifelong friends climbed to Base Camp at Mt. Everest. Read all about it and view breathtaking photos at

Dr. John Craddock, online faculty member, received the Laureate International Universities “Certificate in Online Instruction,” the result of 120 hours of professional development activity that covered topics like technology applications in the virtual classroom; blended and flipped instruction; and a variety of methods including “Deep Learning” and the AIM Learning Model. Craddock already holds the eCollege design and instruction certificate and the Sloan Consortium certificate in online learning.

Dr. Melinda Heinz, assistant professor of psychology, will serve as faculty sponsor of “Caregiving in the 21st Century: Exploring Dementia Caregivers Technology Use,” a study of caregivers in Iowa and how they utilize technology as support in their role of taking care of a loved one with dementia. The project will be conducted by Sandra Meder, a UIU senior double-majoring in psychology and human services from Waukon, Iowa. It was the recipient of a $2,000 R.J. McElroy Student/Faculty Research grant. Meder will present the results at a symposium next spring.

Dr. Melle Starsen, assistant professor of communication had a paper accepted for presentation at the “Visions of Identity: Global Film and Media” conference June 26-28 in London. The research is “Victim or exterminator: The female avenger archetype in blaxploitation films.” Dr. Starsen’s research focuses on 1970-75, a group of films emerged as a genre, specifically, “blaxploitation.” These films presented black characters in urban settings, dealing with crime, drugs, poverty and black identity. According to popular culture pundits, the genre quickly spiraled down into a mishmash of stereotypes with gratuitous sex and violence. Movie critics and researchers rebuked blaxploitation films as racist and degrading to black women. However, this empirical study determined that most of the films provide embedded archetypes that present consistent messages about eschewing exploitation of one’s own culture, people and communities and instead, supporting education, crime-reduction programs, and especially, female empowerment. The archetype of the female avenger is presented in films including “Coffy” (Hill & Billitteri, 1973) and “Foxy Brown” (Hills & Feitshans, 1974). In both films, the female avenger is severely wronged and physically harmed, but Foxy Brown not only brings down the drug cartel, she gets the black community to work together, along with the black nationalists and Coffy eliminates a corrupt politician and gets rid of the people who worked for him and the crime boss. The female avenger creates a code of trust and honor.

Several Upper Iowa educational centers presented Faculty Excellence Awards to faculty members during senior receptions. Recipients are determined by UIU students for their engagement in the classroom, as well as faculty members’ encouragement in challenging coursework. They include:

Dan Krcma has been teaching business and marketing courses at Wausau since 2008. He has a master’s of business administration in marketing.

Des Moines Center
Steve Martin joined the faculty for the 2008-2009 academic year, and has taught over 20 criminal justices courses, as well as supervised students in the senior project course. Martin served over 22 years with the Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, Police Department, the last 14 years as a patrol sergeant. In addition, he served as the department’s defensive tactics and use of force instructor. Prior to that he served as a deputy sheriff in Illinois. Martin holds an associate’s degree in law enforcement from Carl Sandburg College, Galesburg, IL (1982); a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Iowa Wesleyan College, Mt. Pleasant, IA (1998); and a master’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Central Missouri (2005). He is a graduate of the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy (1983), and served as an adjunct criminal justice instructor at Iowa Wesleyan College. He is also a professor of criminal justice at Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny, Iowa.

Samy El-Baroudi ’97, a faculty member teaching courses in business and teacher education, joined the Des Moines Center during the 2006-2007 academic year. He received a master’s of business administration from the University of Phoenix and bachelor’s degree from the UIU Des Moines Center. In addition to teaching at UIU, he is an economics instructor at East High School, Des Moines.

Vicki Smith has worked in many aspects of the social work field including youth crisis and adults in crisis, as well as foster care to family support. She currently teaches all social work training courses at the Racine Center and brings with her a wealth of real-world experience. It was said, “We appreciate all of her efforts to meet the many administrative requirements in such a program, while at the same time finding ways to be flexible enough to meet the individual needs of our students. In recognition of her contributions to the UIU community with acknowledgement of her patience and encouragement of our adult learners,”

Vivian Walker ’05, human services and psychology faculty member, received her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Upper Iowa’s Milwaukee Center. After earning a master’s degree, Walker returned to UIU as an instructor at the Milwaukee and Racine centers. It was stated, “Her passion for working with adult students was more evident than ever. She is a well-loved, well-respected instructor – an excellent role model for our Human Services and Psychology students – and someone we are proud to call our friend. She goes the extra mile to ensure her students understand the concepts at hand – changing her teaching style, actively engaging their participation and using humor to make her point. Her passion for teaching is apparent and her loyalty to her students is obvious.”

ashbacher-facultynotesCedar Rapids
Charles Ashbacher has been teaching mathematics and computer science at the college level for almost 30 years. He has also taught courses in community education and performed contract training for businesses. Ashbacher is the author of seven books; over 30 research papers and co-editor of the Journal of Recreational Mathematics. He is also a top 50 reviewer on Ashbacher recently completed the writing of his eighth book, a manual on using Maple to solve problems in linear algebra. He has taught computer and math courses at the Cedar Rapids Center since March 2009.

Baton Rouge
Robbyn Parks has taught for 13 years at Dallas Independent School District, Natchez-Adams Schools, Iberville Parish Schools and East Baton Rouge Schools, respectively, and now, at the UIU Baton Rouge Center. She is a graduate of Grambling State in Grambling, La.; and Southern University in Baton Rouge, La. She is pursuing a doctorate degree in developmental education and teaches English and public speaking courses for UIU.

Paul Stang, business law instructor at the Madison Center, has taught at Upper Iowa for over 15 years. In addition to teaching, Stang owns a small business that he started in 2005. His firm has eight employees that perform third-party administration work for over 1,000 retirement plans. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in economics and William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul. Stang’s philosophy is that every student in the class has something to teach the other students, and especially, the instructor. He says he tries to structure the class to facilitate that mutual learning process.

Richard L. Rimkus began teaching health services administration courses for Upper Iowa in 2011. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois in 1972 and executive MBA in 2003 from Northern Illinois University. Rimkus was honored because of his dedication to tutoring students and marketing UIU’s Rockford Center to the surrounding community. In addition, Rimkus volunteers his time assisting with APA workshops. He also teaches business and management at Rock Valley College.

Jay Meier has taught education courses at the Waterloo Center for three years. From 2010-13, he was a teacher eduation coordinator at the Waterloo Center. For the past year, he has been employed as a special education teacher in the Waterloo School District and has prior experience as a social studies teacher, principal and assistant principal. He holds a master’s in educational leadership from the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls.

Dr. Ayahn Zora has taught at the Waterloo Center for six years. He has a master’s degree in industrial engineering, which includes quantitative decisions subjects such as linear programming and inventory control as major dedicated courses. He also holds a doctoral degree in industrial technology. Zora has worked for Deere & Company as a staff engineer since 2004.

Kim Groninga has taught at the Waterloo Center for almost four years and teaches a variety of courses. She holds a master’s degree in English and has taught at the University of Northern Iowa for nine years. Groninga is the nonfiction editor of North American Review, the nation’s oldest literary magazine, and was keynote speaker at the 2011 Go Red for Women luncheon. She also spoke at the 2011 UNI scholarship banquet.

ComerNew Orleans
Dr. Jim Comer has taught for Upper Iowa since 1996. He retired as the state chaplain of the Louisiana National Guard as a colonel. Comer has served in the United Methodist Church since 1976 and is presently retired from active pastorate. Prior to that he worked as a newspaper editor and performed public relations for a political group. He earned a master of theology from New Orleans Theological Seminary and a doctor of ministry degree from McCormick Theological Seminary at the University of Chicago campus.

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