This year, the Department of Communications has added several new faculty and staff members throughout the past year, as well as shifting the positions of some existing faculty members.
Stephanie Leiter previously held the position of manager of online communication and community relations specialist at AU. Last winter, she transitioned into the role of director of content strategy and public relations. Leiter says that this change has “expanded [her thinking to] how all of the content the university produces affects each other,” and she is looking forward to using her organizational and planning skills to create a consistent voice and tone throughout this content.
Scott Gower has stepped out of his role as AU’s web editor and SEO analyst and into the role of our content analyst. He now focuses specifically on evaluation of AU’s website and social media traffic. Gower is excited about all aspects of his new position because he believes that “AU is a wonderful place, and using analytics to improve the way we communicate will give more students the opportunity to experience that.”
Rebecca Fuller Beeler served as an associate professor of communication and the department chair of communication and design until last December, when she became associate vice president of communications and marketing. This past June, she was named vice president of enrollment and marketing.
Beeler will be working with public relations, marketing, various events that AU hosts, admissions, Covenant Productions, 98.7 The Song and community engagement. Beeler believes her experience in PR and marketing uniquely qualifies her for this position, and she is “glad to use [her] skills to help AU.” She is looking forward to working with her “wonderful team of talented, motivated individuals.”
Last year, the School of Theology and the Department of Religious Studies were combined to create AU’s brand new School of Theology and Christian Ministry. Since then, several changes to the faculty have been made in order to ensure that students are being taught with expertise specific to each individual class.
Dr. Samantha Miller just completed her PhD at Marquette University and was teaching a few classes there as well. This school year, we welcome her as an assistant professor of the history of Christianity.
“The goal after finishing my doctorate was always to get a teaching position at the college level,” Miller explains, “and I understood my vocation to be to teach at a small, Christian, liberal arts school like the one I attended for my undergraduate work [Hope College].”
She is excited that AU has invited her to work here, and she is looking forward simply to being in class every day. “My students are bright, engaged, delightful people, and I love getting to know them and pass on some of the Church’s wisdom to them.” She is also looking forward to co-leading the Tri-S trip backpacking in Ireland.
Dr. Nathan Willowby earned his PhD from Marquette University and was the pastor of Crossroads Church of God. He also took some time to stay home and father his daughter while his wife worked as an ICU nurse. This fall, he is transitioning into the role of assistant professor of theology and ethics.
Willowby explaied, “I see this as my calling. As a Church of God ordained minister, I sought the proper educational qualifications to be able to teach and serve in a Church of God university.” He is thrilled that an opportunity opened up at AU. Willowby is looking forward to teaching students and walking with them as they consider big, sometimes daunting theological and ethical questions, like “who is God?” and “what is truly good?”
Jason Varner has spent the last few years in Scotland at the University of St. Andrews, working on a Master’s degree and PhD. This fall, he became one of our newest assistant professors of the history of Christianity in the School of Theology and Christian Ministry.
Varner attended AU as an undergraduate student, and has worked here previously as the RD of Dunn Hall and an admissions counselor. Because of this, Varner describes, “Anderson became home.”
Varner is looking forward to spending time with students. “I want to be the kind of person that students can count on. I want to invest in them inside and outside of the classroom, whether that’s going to their games or grabbing coffee and talking about life.”