College Celebrates Accomplishments of 2023 Promoted Faculty

This year, 20 faculty members within the College of Arts & Letters have received promotions. The success of these individuals was celebrated during the 2023 Faculty and Staff Welcome Reception on Sept. 18 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center. 

The College has adopted an approach to promotion that empowers colleagues to Chart Their Pathway of Intellectual Leadership by identifying the stepping stones, milestones, and horizon goals that enable them to do the work that is most important to them. This team approach requires collaboration and dialogue at every step along the way. 

The following are the faculty members who received promotions in 2023.

Full Professor Promotions:

  • Kaveh Askari
  • Peter De Costa
  • Alison Dobbins
  • Aline Godfroid
  • Kristin Mahoney
  • Swarnavel Eswaran Pillai
  • Sean Pue
  • Trixie Smith
  • Sean Valles
  • Therèsa Winge

Associate Professor Promotions:

  • Johanna Schuster Craig
  • Dan Smith

Associate Professor-Fixed Term Promotions: 

  • Jonathan Choti
  • Sadam Issa

Senior Academic Specialist Promotions:

  • Alissa Cohen 
  • Tina M. Newhauser
  • Dan Reed

Continuing Academic Specialist Promotions:

  • Jeffrey Kuure
  • Angie Wendelberger
  • David Wendelberger


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Dr. Kaveh Askari

Kaveh Askari

Kaveh Askari was promoted to Professor in the Department of English where he serves as Director of the Film Studies Program. His areas of expertise include early cinema studies, postcolonial cinema, and the film histories of the Middle East and West Asia, with a particular focus on Iran.  
An internationally known intellectual leader in his field, his work is primarily archival and also includes significant contributions in film programming, curation, and preservation work. His contributions to the study of United States and Iranian cinema include two books. The most recent, published in 2022, is titled Relaying Cinema in Midcentury Iran: Material Cultures in Transit
Dr. Askari is a recognized mentor and steward of his department, the Film Studies Program, and to his profession. He is a dedicated and highly praised instructor, and during his tenure as Film Studies Program Director, enrollments have grown.  
In the broader profession, he is an integral member of the Executive Committee of Domitor, the film organization dedicated to preserving silent cinema. His expertise has led to service as Co-Chair of the Middle Eastern Caucus for the Society of Cinema and Media Studies and as an invited jury member of the Al Jazeera International Documentary Film Festival. 

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Dr. Peter De Costa

Peter De Costa

Peter De Costa was promoted to Professor of Second Language Studies in the Applied Linguistics Program in the Department of Linguistics, Languages, and Cultures where he is Director of the M.A. program in the Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). He also directs the Language Policy and Practice Lab and is jointly appointed in the College of Education Teacher Education Program.

Dr. De Costa is a nationally and internationally known and highly productive intellectual leader in the field of Teaching of English as a Second Language and works in the subfields of second language acquisition, multilingual education, and language teacher education in very innovative pedagogical areas using qualitative methods that include learner-anxiety, affect, ideology, identity, ethics, and World Englishes. In particular, his work deals with issues of linguistic racism and social justice.

He is a dedicated steward of his profession, including serving as editor of the TESOL Quarterly where he has expanded the range of articles and special issues published. He founded a highly successful mentoring program for the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) and currently serves as President-Elect of the AAAL. He will serve as President of that organization in the 2024-2025 academic year. 

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Dr. Alison Dobbins

Alison Dobbins

Alison Dobbins was promoted to Professor in the Department of Theatre. Her field of expertise is media design with a focus on the integration of dance, media, music, theatre, and computer science in performance. She has produced six interactive performance projects, including several that focus on community creation, as well as 12 different media design projects since tenure. This work has gained a national reputation and includes international performances and collaborations.  
Her textbook, Projection Design for Theatre and Live Performance, published in 2021, shares knowledge through its exploration of projection design and creation from a non-technical perspective that is accessible both to early career designers as well as more advanced professionals working with projection for the first time.  
An excellent instructor, Dr. Dobbins also is dedicated to sharing knowledge and expanding opportunities for her students. Her integration of teaching with her design and scholarly practice is impressive. Her efforts at shifting her courses online led her to receive an Open Education Resource Adoption Grant in 2021 to ensure greater accessibility to course materials. On a national level, she has served as Co-Commissioner of Programming for the Digital Media Commission of the United States Institute of Theatre Technology.  

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Dr. Aline Godfroid

Aline Godfroid

Aline Godfroid was promoted to Professor in the Applied Linguistics Program in the Department of Linguistics, Languages, and Cultures. Her expertise lies at the intersection of Second Language Acquisition and psycholinguistics in the areas of implicit and explicit knowledge and cognition using eye-tracking methodology, where she is breaking new ground and has a national and international reputation as an intellectual leader. 

Dr. Godfroid also is Co-Director of the MSU Eye-Tracking Lab, which is a national collaborative leader in this area. Her book, Eye tracking in Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism: A Research Synthesis and Methodological Guide, is the key publication on the subject and was a finalist for the 2021 American Association for Applied Linguistics First Book Award.  
Dedicated to mentorship and expanding the opportunities of others, she is much in demand as a dissertation advisor and secured three doctoral dissertation improvement grants from the National Science Foundation and Language Learning. Her Second Language Acquisition (SLA) for all? Initiative calls for Second Language Acquisition researchers to expand the knowledge reach of their research data sets to include underrepresented groups. She currently serves as Secretary to the European Second Language Association Executive Committee and is editor of the journal of Language Learning.

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Dr. Kristin Mahoney

Kristin Mahoney 

Kristin Mahoney was promoted to Professor in the Department of English and is a core faculty member of the Center for Gender in a Global Context. She has served as Associate Chair of Graduate Studies in English since 2020 and Director of Literary Studies. Her areas of expertise are late-Victorian and Modernist literature, New Decadence Studies, aestheticism, queer theory, gender and sexuality studies, and the writings of Oscar Wilde.  
Her scholarship has significantly broadened the understanding of late-Victorian era Decadent literature by bringing many little-known queer and feminist authors to the fore whose transnational writings on gender, sexuality, aesthetics, Irish nationalism, World War I establish a bridge to modernity and relevance to the present.  
She has published two monographs, including Queer Kinship after Wilde: Transnational Decadence and the Family in 2022, for which she received several external and internal travel grants to support archival research in the UK. The journal she recently created, titled Cusp: Late 19th-/Early 20th-Century Cultures, aims to promote interdisciplinarity scholarship on the visual arts, cinema and theatre, literature, periodical studies, and music.  
Dr. Mahoney served as President of the Executive Committee of the Modern Language Association LLC Victorian and Early-20th-Century English Forum from 2022-2023. 

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Dr. Swarnavel Eswaran Pillai

Swarnavel Eswaran Pillai 

Swarnavel Eswaran Pillai was promoted to Professor of Film Studies in the Department of English and is jointly appointed in the School of Journalism in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. He is an intellectual leader as both creator and scholar of South Asian cinema with a focus on screenwriting, directing, and the flourishing Tamil and South Asian film industries. He has made an astounding number of scholarly contributions, both in the form of feature and documentary films, as well as more traditional publications. For this work, he was honored with the Tamil Studio Lifetime Achievement Award/Editor Lenin Award in 2017.  
Dr. Pillal wrote, directed, and produced the feature film Kattumaram (2019), a rare LGBTQ contribution that was screened at 22 film festivals and highlighted as one of the “essential Indies” in a 2022 guide to new independent Indian cinema. He served as editor, videographer, director, and producer of the full-length documentary, Nagapattinam: Waves from the Deep (2018), on the long-term aftermath of the 2004 East Asian Tsunami on coastal fishing communities.   
A gifted instructor, his mentorship has expanded opportunities for his students, several of whom have gone on to win awards for their own creative work. He also is a dedicated steward of his department and his broader profession both in the United States and India. 

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Dr. Sean Pue

Sean Pue

Sean Pue was promoted to Professor in the Hindi/Urdu Program in the Department of Linguistics, Languages, and Cultures and is a core member of the Global Studies in the Arts & Humanities Program. He is a digital humanities scholar with a specialty in the poetry of South Asia.   
Dr. Pue has received multiple grants including an Andrew W. Mellon New Directions Fellowship used to cultivate the technical skills required for his project on the meaning of sound in the production of poetry in Modern South Asia. One product of this grant was his software “Graph Transliterator” that converts between alphabets and scripts. Most recently, he served as International Principal Investigator on a grant from the Indian Ministry of Education for the project “Digital Apprehensions of Poetics.”  
A top-ranked intellectual leader in the area of modern Urdu, he co-authored the book Dreaming of the Digital Divan: Computational Approaches to Poetry in Indian Languages (2022) and co-edited the collection Digital Humanities and Literary Cultures in India (2022). His work is especially significant given the digital divide and lack of studies in the Digital Humanities on non-Western languages and cultures. 
A dedicated scholar, Dr. Pue was instrumental in helping to establish a minor in Indian and South Asian Studies and he regularly shares knowledge through his undergraduate and graduate Digital Humanities seminars.  

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Dr. Trixie Smith

Trixie Smith

Trixie Smith was promoted to Professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Cultures and is the long-time Director of the MSU Writing Center as well as the Red Cedar Writing Project.  She is known nationally and internationally for her work on diversity issues and storytelling in writing center scholarship and administration, particularly in the areas of English writing, feminist and Queer Studies, cultural rhetorics, and embodied administration.
As Director of the MSU Writing Center, she recently received, in collaboration with the Capital Area District Library, a National Endowment for the Humanities/National Writing Project grant (2022-23). She also co-published the successful collection – Graduate Writing Across the Disciplines: Identifying, Teaching, and Supporting – which received an honorable mention from the International Writing Across the Curriculum Association for Book of the Year in 2020. 
A devoted educator who regularly expands opportunities and mentors many students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, Dr. Smith has chaired many dissertation committees. Further, her work with the Red Cedar Writing Project, a National Writing Project site, provides professional development for area teachers. Her collaboration with the Alliance for African Partnership is one example of her substantial international writing center work, including a current writing center consortium project with collaborators in Botswana and other dedicated African partners that will have transformative institutional and global impact.  

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Dr. Sean Valles

Sean Valles 

Sean Valles was promoted to Professor in the Department of Philosophy and currently serves as Director for the Center for Bioethics and Social Justice in the College of Human Medicine. An intellectual leader and leading national voice with expertise in population health science and interdisciplinary health science, his area of expertise addresses ethical questions in clinical practice, research, and health science, looking in particular at how social contexts combine to create patterns in inequitable health disparities.   
He has published the widely reviewed monograph, titled Philosophy of Population Health: Philosophy for a New Public Health Erathat was translated into Mandarin Chinese in 2022. The book is game-changing in its creation of a framework for talking about social justice and epidemiology. His most recent research on COVID-19 has made critical observations and contributions to understanding its impact on the field.  
Dr. Valles is dedicated to sharing knowledge and expanding the opportunities of his students. Through his many undergraduate- and graduate-level courses, he plays a vital role in mentoring and otherwise educating future health care professionals about ethics. He also is co-PI on Lyman Briggs College’s National Science Foundation funded SPRING Scholars program focused on scholarships for students from historically marginalized groups.

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Dr. Therèsa Winge

Therèsa Winge

Therèsa Winge was promoted to Professor of Apparel and Textile Design in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design. She is a creative artist and cultural studies scholar of apparel and textile design with a specialty in popular culture, subculture, and identity in the 20th and 21st centuries. Her work is devoted to understanding how marginalized groups employ fashion, dress, and style for self-expression and identity formation across popular cultural forms and within multiple subcultures.  
Her monograph, Costuming Cosplay: Dressing the Imagination, about the now global fan and cultural phenomenon that had its start in Japan at the end of the 20th century, is indicative of her intellectual leadership in that it is the first ethnographic, qualitative study of primarily animé and manga Cosplay and examines the meaning making practices of those on the margins in alternative spaces.  
Dr. Winge also is a successful garment designer, having exhibited works in multiple juried exhibitions, including with the International Textile and Apparel Design Association. She is dedicated to sharing knowledge and expanding the opportunities of her students. She was an early adopter of online instruction, integrating flipped classroom, experiential, and active learning techniques as well as inclusive pedagogical practices. She also co-founded and co-directed the Dress and Body Association (DBA) from 2020-2022 as well as twice cohosting its virtual conference. 


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Dr. Johanna Schuster-Craig

Johanna Schuster-Craig 

Johanna Schuster Craig was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor in the German Program in the Department of Linguistics, Languages, and Cultures where she focuses on discourses on xenophobia, racism, gender, and integration political discourse and policies in Germany and Austria. She also works on refugee, immigration, and integration studies there and in broader European and global contexts. She is also a core faculty member of the Global Studies in the Arts & Humanities Program
Dr. Schuster Craig has established herself as a nationally and internationally known intellectual leader through both traditional and public scholarship. For her work, she received a research renewal grant from the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Foundation as well as an MSU Creating Inclusive Excellence Grant with two other colleagues. 
She also is an effective, engaging, and inspiring and inclusive teacher who consciously integrates her research with her pedagogy. Since 2022, she has served as the German Program’s undergraduate director, helping to train TAs and coordinate the lower division language classes.

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Dr. Dan Smith

Dan Smith 

Dan Smith was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre. His expertise is neo-classical era French drama and, more broadly, dramaturgy, a highly interdisciplinary field that combines scholarship with artistic creation. His intellectual leadership in this area encompasses theatre translation, production dramaturgy for text-based and devised performance, literary management and new play development, editing, pedagogy, directing, and event curation.  
Dr. Smith has translated a number of plays that have been produced in multiple venues including internationally. An award-winning teacher, he received the Fintz Award for Teaching Excellence in the Arts and Humanities in 2022. His excellence and dedication to pedagogy also was recognized through an Adams Academy Fellowship and as a Faculty Fellow in the HUB. In his capacity as dramaturg, he has served as a mentor to students on many MSU shows. 
From 2019-2023, he served as Editor of the open access Theatre/Practice, an online journal of the Mid-America Theatre Conference where page views have increased greatly under his tutelage. 


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Dr. Jonathan Choti

Jonathan Choti

Jonathan Choti was promoted to Associate Professor-Fixed Term in the African Languages Program in the Department of Linguistics, Languages, and Cultures. He is a nationally and internationally recognized Swahili educator and African linguistics scholar. Most notable of his teaching accomplishments is his education abroad course, “Sustainability Community Development in Tanzania,” that was created with the Tanzania Partnership Program in International Studies and Programs.  
Beyond the classroom, Dr. Choti is also a highly accomplished intellectual leader through his stewardship and grant work. In winter 2022, he and a colleague received a prestigious Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship. He also is the recipient of a $10,000 Network for Global Engagement Grant from the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities that he used to implement a project on food security in northern Tanzania. In the broader profession, he is currently the Vice President of the African Language Teachers Association.

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Dr. Sadam Issa

Sadam Issa

Sadam Issa was promoted to Associate Professor-Fixed Term in the Arabic Program in the Department of Linguistics, Languages, and Cultures. A superb teacher-scholar, he is an intellectual leader in Arabic language and culture with expertise in cultural studies and Arabic language cartoons.  
He developed a successful summer education abroad in Jordan, which has become an important recruitment and retention opportunity for the program and is a valuable mentoring experience for students of Arabic.  
Dr. Issa also co-wrote the textbook, Elementary Arabic I and II, as an Open Education Resource. This new textbook has gained national attention and has been adopted by several other institutions. It was much needed in a field that had few textbook options. Together with his co-author Dr. Ayman Mohamed, Dr. Issa was recognized with the MSU Open Educational Resources Leadership Award in 2021 for this publication. 


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Alissa Cohen

Alissa Cohen 

Alissa Cohen was promoted to Senior Academic Specialist in the English Language Center. She is well known for her substantial intellectual contributions to the field of second language English instruction. Not only a dedicated educator, Cohen also engages in curriculum development, advising, and has increasingly taken on vital administrative leadership roles.  
Among her significant contributions to the MSU community is her pivotal role in the International Student Mentorship program, her involvement in the transition and enhancement of the International Teaching Assistant Program with the Graduate School, and her work with the Academic Culture and English Skills Summer Program for ITAs.  

Cohen has twice received Creating Inclusive Excellence Grants and has completed both an Adams Academy Fellowship and a Lilly Fellowship. She also has received multiple fellowships from the Center for Language Teaching Advancement (CeLTA) for her outreach work promoting linguistic and cultural understanding and appreciation at local public schools. 
Her commitment to academia does not end within the walls of the university. She also has trained numerous teachers on international platforms like the Fulbright Program and the Panama Bilingue Summer Teachers Program. 

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Tina M. Newhauser

Tina M. Newhauser

Tina Newhauser was promoted to Senior Academic Specialist in the Department of Theatre. She is a distinguished figure in the world of stage management and arts and cultural management. Her skills have been showcased on Broadway, highlighting her expertise in the theater realm.  

Central to her pedagogy is her belief in experiential learning. This philosophy led her to create the BFA in Stage Management program in 2017, providing students with unparalleled practical exposure. She also helped develop and launch the Arts and Cultural Management Program in 2015.

She recently co-authored a book with Alexis Black, titled Supporting Staged Intimacy: A Practical Guide for Theatre Creatives, Managers, and Crew, which evolved from a classroom collaboration.  
Her professional engagements as a stage manager and showcaller for high-profile corporate events on both national and international stages further highlight her versatility and expertise. These engagements include global brands such as Goldman Sachs, NASA, Reebok, and a variety of social media companies. 

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Dr. Dan Reed

Dan Reed

Dan Reed was promoted to Senior Academic Specialist in the English Language Center (ELC). His leadership as Testing Director has been pivotal to establishing the English Language Center as a globally recognized English testing center. This testing center, a blend of his hard work and vision, not only aids incoming MSU students but has expanded its reach to international institutions.  
Dr. Reed made a significant impact with his work in Greece where his efforts centered on adapting and utilizing the ELC’s English proficiency tests there. His proactive approach to setting up a Cultural Sensitivity Committee in Greece, focusing on the fair and culturally attuned assessment methods, has received praise and recognition.  
His substantial contributions include leading the ELC testing team’s development of an English proficiency test for MSU’s incoming international teaching assistants and refining the ELC’s placement test. His efforts played a crucial role in the ELC achieving a 10-year certification from the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation.  


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Jeffrey Kuure

Jeffrey Kuure

Jeffrey Kuure was promoted to Continuing Academic Specialist in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Cultures. Specializing in the Experience Architecture and Professional and Public Writing degree programs, he routinely instructs advanced upper-level courses integral to the Experience Architecture major. His innovative teaching approach, which blends theoretical knowledge with hands-on mentorship, has earned him significant accolades.  
With a distinctive blend of technical, technological, and digital knowledge combined with a humanistic approach, Kuure is widely acknowledged for his expertise. Beyond the classroom, his contributions in creative and technical research/administration are notable. He is credited with creating and maintaining the website for the journal Constellations and the student-run magazine The Current. Within the college, he’s recognized as an expert in coding and web development, and his commitment to departmental service is consistently evident. 

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Angie Wendelberger

Angie Wendelberger

Angie Wendelberger was promoted to Continuing Academic Specialist in the Department of Theatre where she stands out for her dedication, skill, and innovation. She is a notable figure in costume design and technology, having gained significant experience as a freelance costume artist/designer. She skillfully navigates a diverse workload that includes research, teaching, supervision, and outreach. 
In her role as Costume Technologist, she has led all department productions from concept to curtain call. Her hands-on approach has made a lasting impact on the department’s costume shop, providing students an opportunity to learn in a professional-grade institution. Her dedication to translating design theory into practice has fostered a thriving, inclusive space where students can experiment, learn, and grow. Her proficiency extends into the classroom, where she instills the principles of critical design thinking and hands-on construction in her students. From introductory technical theatre labs to advanced costume construction, her teaching methodology has resulted in tangible increases in student skill levels. 

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David Wendelberger

David Wendelberger

David Wendelberger was promoted to Continuing Academic Specialist in the Department of Theatre. He has dedicated years of exemplary service to the theatre community. As Musical Director in the Department of Theatre, he has collaborated on more than 20 productions since 2013. Additionally, he has filled multiple roles, transitioning from a full-time piano accompanist for musical theatre and dance courses to spearheading voice training labs and co-teaching numerous musical theatre courses.  
Beyond these roles, he has introduced and taught techniques in audio/video capturing and editing, guided students through self-discipline to create content and rehearse, and fulfilled innovative learning objectives that hadn’t been explored.

Serving as an accompanist and vocal coach, he dedicates countless hours to mentoring and guiding students preparing for auditions. Further solidifying his commitment, he has been instrumental in regional programs like Take It From the Top, New Musical Laboratory, and Summer Circle Theatre.