NNU News

Introducing Deans and New Faculty for the 2019-2020 Academic Year

August 26, 2019


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NNU is excited to introduce its new faculty to campus for the upcoming academic year. There are four returning faculty members who have been selected to serve in new roles as deans and nine new faculty members.


College of Arts & Humanities – Dr. Judy Marlett

Dr. Marlett is a Professor of Music who has been an NNU faculty member since 1996. Judy has served the NNU community in a variety of roles, including CAS Faculty Vice-Chair and most recently as the Chair of the Faculty.

College of Behavioral & Social Sciences – Dr. Lawanna Lancaster

Dr. Lancaster is a Professor of Social Work who has been an NNU faculty member since 2002. Lawanna has served in multiple roles during her time at NNU, including CAGS Faculty Vice-Chair and as Director of NNU’s MSW Program.

College of Education – Dr. LoriAnn Sanchez

Dr. Sanchez is an Associate Professor of Education who has been an NNU faculty member since 2012. LoriAnn has served as Chair of NNU’s Undergraduate Department of Education and as Director of NNU’s Adult & Professional Programs in Education.

College of Engineering, Mathematics & Science – Dr. Jamee Nixon

Dr. Nixon is an Associate Professor of Biology who has been an NNU faculty member since 2007. Jamee has served on a number of councils and committees during her time at NNU and has served this past year as Chair of the Assessment and Accreditation Committee.

Graduate & Professional Studies – Dr. Jay Akkerman

Dr. Akkerman has been a member of NNU's theology faculty since 2004 and currently serves as Director of NNU's Graduate School of Theology. Jay will be providing leadership for NNU's graduate and professional programs, and he will actively partner with the other academic Deans across campus in supporting, existing, and developing new programs campus-wide.

These five new Deans join returning Deans: Dr. Bill Russell, Dean of the College of Business; Dr. Leonie Sutherland, Dean of the College of Nursing; Dr. Brent Peterson, Dean of the College of Theology & Christian Ministries; and, Dr. Duane Slemmer, Dean of Academic Services.

New Faculty:

College of Arts & Humanities: History – Matt Millsap

Millsap is currently working on his Ph.D in United States History from Baylor University (expected ‘19). Most recently, he completed teaching a Capstone in Higher Education Program at Baylor University. In his free time, he enjoys watching college football, various outdoor activities and spending time with his wife and two kids.

College of Behavioral Sciences: Counselor Education – Bethany Townsend

Dr. Townsend earned her Ph.D in Counselor Education and Supervision from the University of Wyoming (‘19). Townsend has most recently worked as a Mental Health Counselor at the Kuna Counseling Center in Kuna, Idaho. She enjoys running, kayaking, yoga and singing.

College of Behavioral Sciences: Social Work – John Stennett

Stennett earned his M.S. in Social Work from Northwest Nazarene University (‘03). He most recently worked as the Territorial Social Services Secretary for The Salvation Army Western Territory in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. He enjoys bike riding, hiking, traveling and reading.

College of Behavioral Sciences: Social Work – Steffanie Altenbern

Altenbern earned her M.S. in Social Work from Metropolitan State College of Denver (‘12). She is joining NNU from Spring Arbor University where she was teaching. She enjoys yoga, gardening, spending time with family and trying new local restaurants.

College of Engineering, Math & Science: Engineering & Physics – Ben Pearson

Dr. Pearson earned his doctorate in Experimental High Energy Particle Physics from the University of Oklahoma (‘16). He has spent the last 2.5 years working on top-quark physics with the ATLAS Experiment at the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich, Germany. He enjoys hiking, reading, camping, singing and exploring.

College of Engineering, Math & Science: Math & Computer Science – Dr. Kevin McCarty

Dr. McCarty earned his Ph.D in Computer Science from the University of Idaho (‘14). McCarty has worked in various Information Technology/Developer capacities for the past 30 years, and is a former U.S. Army Officer. He enjoys writing and fencing in his free time.

College of Theology & Christian Ministry: Philosophy – Dr. Christina M. Smerick

Dr. Smerick earned her Ph.D in Philosophy from DePaul University (‘03). She is joining NNU from Greenville University where she worked as a Professor of Philosophy. She enjoys hiking, reading and knitting.

Every NNU faculty and staff member is dedicated to investing in the academic, spiritual and social growth of students, and campus is in great anticipation for the 2019-2020 academic year.