Overview of Thomas More University campus

2023 September – 2024 February Faculty/Staff Notes

St. Elizabeth College of Natural and Health Sciences

Shannon Galbraith-Kent, Ph.D., professor and chair, department of biological sciences, hosted a webinar on the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund for the Kentucky Academy of Science in fall 2023. Questions answered included: What is the state of conservation funding in Kentucky? What are our future prospects, and how can scientists and advocates help?

Chris Lorentz, Ph.D., professor, department of biological sciences, and fellow colleagues at the University of Cincinnati recently published a paper in the peer-reviewed journal, “Transactions of the American Fisheries Society.” The title of the article is River connectivity increases the diversity of fish communities in gravel pit lakes. CLICK HERE to find the article.  

Jyoti Saraswat, Ph.D., mathematics and physics, and John D. (Jack) Rudnick Jr., Ed.D., professor, business administration, co-authored the article, “Quality improvement tools frame blood platelet compliance transition: An evaluation case on processes and outcomes” that appeared in the peer-reviewed Journal of Multidisciplinary Research, Fall 2023.

Robert W. Plaster College of Business

Jeni Al Bahrani, professor of practice and director of the ZCEI, was nominated for the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky Awards. These awards honor women who exemplify notable achievement, outstanding service in their professions or to the Northern Kentucky community, and the qualities of personal integrity, perseverance and leadership.

John D. (Jack) Rudnick Jr., Ed.D., professor, business administration, was interviewed on EWTN Sacred Heart Radio for several interviews on the Sonrise Morning Show and Driving Home the Faith to discuss the social construct of “loneliness among the elderly” during the holiday season and throughout the year. He also presented a project on “digitalizing Thomas More University immunization health records” for Harvard Medical School’s Executive Education program in the Fall of 2023 where he earned a certificate on “Leading Digital Transformation in Healthcare.” Dr. Rudnick was also recognized as a peer-reviewer for journals published by the American College of Gastroenterology.

Malcolm Robinson, Ph.D., business administration & economics, was featured towards the end of 2023 in two pieces by WalletHub. The first featured Robinson’s advice on High-Yield Savings Accounts. To read this, CLICK HERE. The second was a feature on the Best Personal Loans, which can be found if you CLICK HERE. Robinson was also featured in as an expert by moneygeek.com in their 2023 study Stagflation in Economics. To learn more about what stagflation is and how it affects the economy, CLICK HERE. When 2024 rolled around moneygeek.com again asked Robinson for his expertise for their article Gross Domestic Product (GDP): Definition, Types and Alternatives. To read the article and Robinson’s advice, CLICK HERE. Robinson shared his pick for the Best Credit Repair Companies in an entry on creditdonkey.com. To read the article, CLICK HERE. Robinson was featured in WalletHub’s 2024 piece about Umbrella Insurance. Malcolm lends his expert opinion as to who can benefit from this type of policy and when it’s a good investment. To read his advice, CLICK HERE.

College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

Christy Mariani-Petroze, Ed.D., associate professor and chair of the School of Education, and John T. Spence, Ph.D., AICP, professor, political science, recently had their research on civics education recognized through publication in the peer-reviewed journal of the Kentucky Council for the Social Studies, Social Studies Teaching and Learning. Entitled, “Using a Simple Conceptual Framework for Informing Thoughtful Student Engagement with Democracy in High School Civics Classes,” the article aims to provide social studies teachers with a model for preparing their students for an analysis of democracy and citizenship based upon understanding the fundamental basis for our democratic institutions and processes, appreciating the important roles of citizenship, and having realistic expectations for political outcomes based upon compromise. Petroze and Spence plan to further their research by testing the effectiveness of this framework for teaching civics through focus group interviews with social studies high school teachers and analysis of student survey responses prior to, and after, being introduced to the proposed model. Collaboration between the two professors grew out of a joint presentation on the subject of civics education made at the Lilly Teaching Conference held at Miami University (OH) in November of 2022.  

Dr. Mariani-Petroze also had her research on professional learning communities published in the Journal of Catholic Education. Entitled, “The Positive Impacts of a Professional Learning Community Model on Student Achievement in Small Schools,” the article explores the impact of professional learning communities on student achievement in a small school setting. Petroze led the faculty in high quality, effective professional development using PLC objectives and norms to analyze NEWA MAP data. The faculty adapted instructional practices and implemented formative assessments to influence student growth in math and reading scores. The study results indicated that the PLC training that took place between the Fall and Winter MAP testing cycles positively impacted student growth results earning St. Theresa, a diocesan school in Covington, national Blue Ribbon status. For more on this research, CLICK HERE.

Hannah Keegan, adjunct professor, theology, was named as the inaugural director of the Center for Faith, Mission, & Catholic Education at the University. To read the release, CLICK HERE.

Kayla Steltenkamp, Ed.D., assistant professor, School of Education, was featured as a speaker at the Clinical Laboratory Educators Conference (CLEC) national conference on February 2024. Her presentation was titled “Unlocking the Power of Neurodiversity in the Higher Education Classroom: Debunking Myths and Boosting Learning for All!”. Hosted by The American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science, this annual gathering brings together faculty, administrators, directors, advisers, and other stakeholders in the field, providing a platform for content experts to present on a wide array of timely topics.

Phillip Webster, assistant professor and theatre director, was interviewed by LinkNKY about his hopes and goals for the theatre program. To read the article, CLICK HERE. Thanks to Webster’s initiative, a new Christmas play was commissioned specifically for Thomas More from Alex and Zach Rouse. The play, entitled “Christmas Carol Untold” debuted in the Thomas More Theatre Dec. 1-3. For a Q&A with Webster and the playwrights, CLICK HERE.


Joseph L. Chillo, LP.D., president, was named one of the region’s 300 most powerful business leaders for the fourth consecutive year in Cincinnati 300, a special publication of Cincinnati magazine. To read the article, CLICK HERE. President Chillo was also interviewed by the Cincinnati Business Courier in a follow up to Thomas More’s commitment to occupy space in the OneNKY Center currently under construction in Covington, Kentucky. For more information on that news, CLICK HERE.

Terry Connor ’92, vice president and director of athletics, was featured by LinkNKY in an article covering his extensive career at the University. To read the article, CLICK HERE.

Debby Shipp, director of Corporate Engagement and Co-op Education, presented at the Rotary Club of Florence in fall 2023, speaking to how the University connects with regional businesses. To read an article on this, CLICK HERE.